For several years now, I have felt compelled to simplify my life. Not just in activities, but in mental clutter, physical clutter, spiritual clutter, and emotional clutter. Even electronic clutter.
The more I strip away, the more I feel compelled to go deeper. Yes, there is a human component to this draw to becoming less attached to the "stuff" in my life, but it is more than that. It is a call to become free from the worldly so that my family and I can focus on where He is bringing us.
My husband and I have spent the last several years paying off a huge amount of debt. HUGE. And truthfully, we do not have much to show for that debt. Yes, we live in a comfortable home, have two cars that run most of the time, and have all of our necessities and many of our wants, but, we do not live luxuriously nor do we have a fortune stashed away for our children's college tuition or our retirement.
So what did we "gain" by racking up tons of debt? I truly don't know. Some was medical debt. Honestly, I just don't know what the rest of it was. What it has cost us, however, to carry this debt I do know. It has robbed us many nights of restful sleep. Time with our children. Time with our friends. Opportunities to help others. The ability to help our children with school expenses. My husband has worked 6-7 days a week for the last 12+ years. While I am thankful that he comes home to us every night, and understanding that many people have husbands that travel to far off locations for weeks at a time to provide for their families, I still desire that he could be here on the weekends, doing what dads do with their children.
We have learned valuable lessons that both my husband and I will never forget and we hope our children will also learn from. First and foremost. Consider any debt that you might take on VERY SERIOUSLY. Think of the loss of freedom that debt will shackle you to and if it really is worth it. Some debt is. Most is not. Think about how much the debt will actually cost rather than thinking the you can afford the monthly payment. Debt seems not so terrible when you only see it as a monthly payment you can afford, but the reality of debt is the number of monthly payments you will make and the years of your life that you can never get back paying it off. Hear me on this...DEBT IS A PRISON. I do not make that statement lightly. I make it as a woman who has lived it. And recognizing that I have not had to live in extreme poverty, I have experience extreme despair and hopelessness from our situation. I would go so far as to say that there is NO DEBT that is worth the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll that it will take on someone, but sometimes, as in the case of medical debt, there is not much choice. (It should be noted that all of our medical debt was accrued when we had "good" insurance. Today we now participate in a Sharing Program that has allowed us to help others with their medical needs.
Thankfully, we are quite nearly debt-free. Our goal now is to quickly pay off the remaining amount that we do owe while building our savings. We use a combination of ideas from Dave Ramsey and others as well as a budgeting software that has truly worked for us the past 8 months, You Need A Budget.
I am beginning a new project for 2014. It will be a year long process of learning about how to value people and my relationship with them over the shiny new things that I only think will make me happy. It will be about learning to live with less so that we can live life more fully, more peacefully. It will be about finding and recognizing Jesus in my midst and having the ability to let go of my worldly possessions so that they can help others rather than offer me a false sense of success. I will strive to become someone of significant, intentional living rather than a collector of stuff. I will strive to become more humble and more quiet allowing God to take the rightful place at the center of my life.
I look forward to sharing my family's journey with you. I will try to share the good, the difficult, and the not so good.