I recognized the voice between the sobs as that of Cathy’s. She was a young vibrant woman, in love with her husband, her family and her Lord. I always have time for Cathy. Today was no exception.
“Of course,” I replied.
Cathy began pouring out her heart. She had received devastating news from her doctor. She was trying to process information that made no sense to her. Cathy had made all the right choices as a single woman. This just couldn’t be happening.
Then her confusion turned to anger,bitterness, unforgiveness and finally rage. as she remembered, her husband had made other choices. He had chosen to be a rebel, a prodigal of sorts. It had to be his choices for which she was suffering!
At the same time, I also heard her torment as she battled between her heart and her head. Cathy knew the “right thing” to do. As a Christian, she had it all down. Cathy was supposed to forgive, but, emotionally, she just wasn’t there. She went back and forth directing her anger at the Lord and then at her husband. She wondered out loud, what good was it to have to obey the Lord, only to be suffering because of the sinful actions of her husband?
I understood this question and Cathy’s emotions all too well. My own marriage to the father of my kids, had been filled with moments of similar pain where I asked the very same question.
What good was it to follow God’s principles only to suffer because of another person’s sin?
Being financially responsible was very important to me. As a single person, I was careful to manage my money so as not to create new debt. My college loan was sufficient debt unto itself! I worked hard, managing my small income. I planned for most of my purchases. When I did have to make a purchase using credit, I was careful to not charge more than I could pay off when the bill came in the mail.
When I met the man who was to become my husband, I was in pretty good shape financially.
It did not take long for me to realize, my fiancé and I did not share this value. In fact, at one of our marriage counseling appointments, when asked what potential problems we saw, my response was: “He likes to spend money. I like to save it.”
All couples have struggles. Our different approaches to finances wasn’t a deal breaker. It did however, become a source of constant conflict. For my husband, living on credit was simply “the American way”. For me, it was digging a pit. My husband would spend when he wanted on whatever he wanted with the attitude that on tax return day, we would pay off our debt. Then we would start the process over again.
For many years we lived in this cycle. However, over the years, as our debt grew larger it took more cash then our tax return to pay it off. Yet, I still managed to pay down and pay off our credit cards time and time again.
That is until it finally caught up with us.
In the mid 80’s we moved from Texas to Arlington, Virginia for a new, more secure job. The cost of living was almost double. It was quite the financial shock. My husband’s salary didn’t even cover our basic living expenses! There was only one choice. I had to return to work outside our home, simply to make ends meet.
There was, it turned out, a catch. With two incomes, we could qualify for MORE DEBT.
Frustrated with what my husband thought was my tight grip on our family finances, my husband took a turn at managing our money. Unbeknownst to me, he applied for multiple credit cards. Not only credit cards, but, one day I came home to find we had purchased a new car. SURPRISE!
As time went on, I learned about the credit cards. He explained the plan he had mapped out. He borrowed money from one credit card to pay off another. He was, as the expression goes, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Sadly, he never got to the place where there was a zero balance on any credit card.
The many arguments followed. A lot of them, at the dinner table. No matter how much I hammered away at the illogic of my husband’s schemes, no matter how many times I warned him, he was determined to do it his way. After all, living on credit is the American way of life.
Then one evening as we were arguing, I clearly heard the Lord speak to my heart,
“Be quiet. Let it go. Leave it to Me.”
And so I did.
One night at dinner, my husband announced that the creditors have been calling. Our bills were over due. The new car he bought was going to be repossessed. He went on to tell me that we were going to have to file for bankruptcy. He had already made the appointment with a lawyer. I needed to take the time off from work for the meeting.
I was devastated. I couldn’t believe my ears. Heartbroken, standing at the kitchen sink, I just cried. This was not at all what I imagined would happen. Did God really say, “Leave it to Me?”
I was so angry, sobbing, I said to the Lord, “Why do I have to file for bankruptcy? Why do I have to suffer for my husband’s choices? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
His answer was simple, “My Son suffered for your sins which He did not commit.” And with that I knew, I had to lay down my life, my reputation, my pride and anger for the sake of the Lord, my husband and our family. With this understanding and a grateful heart, I I felt comforted.
With the comfort He gave me, I was also able to comfort my young friend. (2Cor. 1:4)