At the worst possible time, in the middle of the holidays, The Shannon’s made a pretty life changing decision.
We cut up all of our credit cards.
But we did.
I work part-time in order to stay home most of the time with our daughter. Rich works full-time as a Supervisor at the Department of Welfare. We own a home in Northern New Jersey. We have a car payment, we have insane property taxes, and you caught the part where I said we lived in Northern New Jersey, right?
And we were in trouble.
Staying home full-time, though not a decision I regret AT ALL or EVER, left us financially in the red and we relied on credit cards to fill the gap. Until, the debt kept climbing, the shame kept growing, we were becoming less and less able to pay our bills or for groceries and less tolerant of each other as family.
I hate money. But it was becoming quickly apparent that if we didn’t deal with this surmounting situation, it would only get worse. Creditors are mean and won’t accept a coffee invite to discuss the situation. (Even if I make a mean coffee cake to sweeten the deal.) And so, we did what we never, ever had done before. We told people.
Money is such a taboo issue for most. Our American value is determined by the size of our paycheck. Whether or not you can pay your bills determines your worth. It’s embarrassing to decline dinner invites because there’s nothing in the bank. Even worse when your card is declined at the store. Over and over.
All of that is a lie. My worth lays in the fact that I am a daughter of the King, truly. My husband, a son. We took our identities back that one night in November when we let all the walls fall down and though it’s been so terribly hard, it has been so worth it.
We told our friends and family our situation, and asked them to pray for us as we try to hear God’s voice in the midst of this trial. But they did more than that. Financial analysts and business consultants who are friends of ours helped us call our credit card companies and negotiate better terms and payment plans. They wrote out budgets for us, organized the paperwork piled up in the abandoned corner of doom, held our hands and brought a bottle of wine while we laughed at the numbers. Friends and family brought groceries, babysat for free, and some even went so far as to help monetarily to climb out of where we were. And they’re still helping. It is enormously humbling and a constant reminder of the cross. Community is no joke, folks. This is what it looks like. When things get ugly, God’s people stand in the gap. We used to pride ourselves in being the ones to do that for others, now we realize what a deeper gospel message comes from being on the receiving end. We don’t deserve the help. but it keeps coming.
I began working again part-time to help. Rich took over-time whenever it was offered. We sold things- furniture, jewelry, baby clothes. We got rid of cable packages. We stopped going to eat. We’re fixing up our guest rooms to rent to increase our monthly income. And we have learned to look for the manna for the day, because that is all that has been promised us. And to continue to give freely- to feed, cloth and love the people God put in our lives. He will provide.
At exactly three months later, we are no where near the finish line. But we’ve not accrued one more cent of debt. We’ve (that’s a collective we) paid off 2,000 in two months, in fact. On one salary. In New Jersey. This week we established an emergency fund- with money in it!!!!! For the first time in over three years, we are watching together as the debt goes down, and not up. Even if it’s just a little at a time. We are moving forward.
We didn’t remotely do it alone. It would have been impossible without support. That’s why we’re coming clean. What is it that you need support for? Or in? It takes a village to be a good friend, a good daughter, a good sister, a good wife, a good teacher/doctor/lawyer/cupcake baker. We ALL need a little help. We need each other. But you have to admit it first.
Manna for the day!