I am so happy to share this post with you, written by our very own Pastor Laura (you may remember her from this past post). She writes about something rarely talked about in church,

and something that I’m sure most of us have experienced at least once in our lifetime. Read and be inspired as she shares vulnerably about her own experience with debt and how she was able to beat the beast, all the while trusting in God and allowing Him to transform her through the situation.

debt. what kind of reaction do you experience when you see this little four-letter word? whether you’re single, married, or a parent, issues regarding finances are one of the leading causes of stress in anyone’s life. according to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian owes just over $22,000 in consumer debt (not including mortgages). debt has become too familiar for many of us and has an eerie way of enveloping a person to the point of drowning.

my husband and i are familiar with this kind of debt. a few months before our wedding, i was struggling to start my own business and he was suddenly laid off. we both brought debt into our marriage and only saw it multiply as we struggled to live as newlyweds on a combined income of about $20,000 that first year. it was supposed to be a happy time but we were crippled by a lack of finances coupled with debt that grew every day. it was the beast that threatened to consume and defeat us. but we knew GOD had a better design for our lives and we also knew that we needed to submit to HIS way. a big shift happened when we stopped seeing ourselves as owners and possessors of things and began seeing ourselves as managers of whatever finances GOD entrusted to us. for the first three years of marriage, we lived incredibly simple lives (e.g. living in a basement suite with very little going out, no shopping beyond necessities, and no traveling) and made getting out of debt our priority. we also made tithing a priority and trusted that as we were faithful with little, HE would one day call us faithful with much.

i’m not going to sugar-coat this season: it was hard. it was hard to watch friends buy beautiful homes filled with beautiful possessions and feel like we couldn’t invite anyone over. it was hard to look at other people’s vacation pictures on facebook and feel satisfied with our stay-cations watching netflix while eating home-cooked meals. it was hard feeling like we couldn’t plan for the future while the past had a choke-hold on our present lives. but it was a necessary season for us as we began our lives together, finding our identity and worth not in our finances but rather in JESUS. it was good to be emptied so we could be filled with HIS goodness. it was great to be stretched and give as we were called, exercising and growing our faith muscles to know that HE is the great provider.

and HE did provide. within three years we were out of debt and on our way to saving for a down-payment and putting money away every month for retirement and our children’s educations. so how did we get from overwhelming debt to being able to save for the future?

first, if you do find yourself in a season of debt, do not be ashamed. past mistakes do not define who you are. second, make a practical plan to get out of debt. if you’re inexperienced in this area, reach out for help. we have some amazing financial stewards at church who would love to share their wisdom and you can also seek professional help from non-profit credit counseling societies. lastly, examine your heart. how did you get into debt in the first place? student loans for an education that you’re not using? credit card debt for an unchecked spending habit? do you view tithing as a gift to GOD rather than as the biblically correct view of giving GOD what is HIS? make sure that you deal with heart issues regarding finances, especially if they are generational. if finances is an overwhelming topic, take a breath and remember John Wesley’s motto: earn all that you can; save all that you can; give all that you can. GOD’s design is for you to be a generous and cheerful giver.

my husband and i sometimes reminisce about our humble beginnings and thank GOD that he set us free. these brief walks down memory lanes are also sobering heart-checks whenever we fail to submit our finances to JESUS. the weight of responsibility is even greater now that we have children, knowing we must instill in them healthy financial worldviews that will set them up for success in their own futures.

do you struggle with finances? do you have a testimony to share regarding finances? either way, i would love to hear – please email me at laura.pak@newjoychurch.com.