Hey tired, worn out friend, living paycheck to paycheck, just trying to make it to the end of the month. I see you! I have BEEN you!
I've paid off over $50,000 in debt as a single mom on a teacher's salary and I haven't lost my mind! Being Shaped for Strength is about more than just physical fitness, it's about being fit with your finances, too!
And yes, it is a lot of work.
But yes, becoming debt free (on purpose) can be done.
It's taken a long time in my life to find financial balance, and living debt free on purpose is something I make a conscious effort to keep working on every month.
I've enjoyed seasons of prosperity, and I've also experienced losing everything I had. I had a husband who left his family after seventeen years, I've been diagnosed with cancer, ballooned up to an unhealthy weight which caused numerous other health issues, and found myself overwhelmed and over my head in debt.
If you're like most Americans who live paycheck to paycheck and wonder why there is so much more month at the end of your money, I'd say you're pretty "normal". I just got to a point where I said it was enough. I'd had enough and if broke was normal, I didn't want to be "normal" anymore.
Financial balance? Debt free? Ha! I was far from it!
I had to literally start over with two children, only a few dollars in the bank, and a giant mountain of debt.
I needed help.
So I looked at What the Bible Had to Say About it
There are SO MANY biblical references to money in scripture (some say over 2000!), which leads me to believe we need a lot of guidance in this area!
Here are a few verses that have helped me through some very trying times, and have guided a lot of my decision-making along the way to gaining more financial peace in my life.
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
We are supposed to love the Lord with all our heart and all our soul and all our strength (Deuteronomy 6:5), and depend on Him for the small things, the big stuff, and everything in between. But honestly, can we really do that if we are desiring our "stuff" just as much - or more!?
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Being in debt we are always a slave - to our stuff, to the people we owe, and to the negative energy and stress that comes with not being in control. Becoming debt free brings more control, more freedom, and more peace (see also Galatians 5:1 and Ephesians 3:12).
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Often falsely quoted as 'money is evil', this verse instructs us to avoid not actual money, but the love of money. In other words, when you start idolizing the obsessions you think you need, continual coveting begins to steal your contentment. Yes, we should aim high and want success, but when it leads us to turning to the things of the world for our satisfaction all we end up doing most of the time is racking up a huge credit card bill as we try to keep up (see also 1 Timothy 6:10, 1 John 2:15 and 2 Timothy 3:2).
If you are a big spender and have no real savings, or if you are carrying debt in your life, pause and think about it for a quick sec. I want you to just think how it might feel if you didn't have a payment in the world.
How many people could you bless if you weren't being a "slave to your lender"? Think of how generous you could be if you weren't giving all of your money AWAY to somebody else - like a bank or a car company!
If you are tired of living in fear of the mailman with this month's bills, please know that you don't have to be "normal". You can dump YOUR debt and get fit with your finances, too!
You are worth more!
When I hit my rock bottom, I took a good look in the mirror and realized I was worth more that the life I had been living - a life full of worry, stress, missed opportunities, and bondage to my creditors. I was worth more! And definitely, so were my children!
Proverbs 22:6 says to "Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." and Proverbs 13:22, "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children".
Both of these verses remind me that much of my kids' future is riding on my decisions today. I can live for short term gain (serving the wrong master) or I can realize that if I was going to leave my kids in a better place than I was, something had to change.
I also wanted them to see a strong mother who could teach them God's way of handling her money and her life.
The result? A lot of soul-searching, successes, and start-overs.
Then more success, some more starting over, and eventually NO MORE DEBT!
Don't wait for your rock bottom to be debt free
I hate to hear of any of my friends struggling with debt, especially when they do view it as their "normal". I offer an alternative viewpoint - that there is always hope for a better situation. Small changes now, as hard as they seem, grow into big changes later.
I encourage you to take a step forward, however so small, and live in faith that a more balanced, debt free life where abundance is possible can become the NEW normal for you!