Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Confessions: Maxed Out

I believe in transparency. I think it's good for the soul - daring, risky, honest, and exhilarating. I'm a huge proponent. And I tend to be a pretty private person, but I've learned over the years to consciously make myself be more transparent. And I applaud it in others.

Of course, there are time, places, and subject matters that should be kept more discreet.... We all know the people who are seemingly blissfully (and painfully for us) unaware of this. But I think everyone should have at least one person (maybe a counselor!!!) with whom they can be thoroughly honest and real.

The biggest benefit that comes from transparency is finding out you're not alone! This benefits both you and the people you're sharing with. For some reason a lot of us believe the lie that you're the only one who _____________. We think our friends would never make as stupid of decisions as we've made, but reality is that stupid decisions are incredibly common and there are probably a lot more people out there who can relate to you than you would imagine.

So, all that to say, my confession of the day is: I'm in debt! Wahoo! And I don't mean school loan debt. Please. And yes. I'm in that too. But that's not what concerns me.
No more impulse shopping...
Once upon a time, my father (and mother) told me repeatedly and passionately to not ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever get into credit card debt. I, being in my early twenties, and very wise indeed assured them that I wouldn't. And I didn't....for a while.

Then I went to grad school and decided I needed to work on my credit score (what on earth?!). I was trying to be a responsible adult. So, I took out a credit card with my bank and started using it instead of my debit card. The idea was that I would put on my credit card was I was going to put on my debit card anyway and then every month I would just pay off my credit card. That worked....for a while.
Going to have to be more selective in my concert attendance...
I don't actually remember if I got into debt while I was in grad school. I don't think I did and if I did, it wasn't much, and I knew I could get out of it quickly, once I got a "real" job. (I was still convinced I was going to be an adult soon at that point).

Then I moved to Portland, Oregon. Where I was unemployed for a period of time, where I worked as a hostess in a restaurant for a period of time, and where I ultimately gave up the dream of becoming an adult anytime in the near future. I went into survival mode. I also struggled with depression. My mindset was screw credit card debt! I've got MUCH bigger problems to deal with. I would say this is where I really racked up my debt. Although it's hard to pinpoint exactly - it was so sneaky!
None of this...
Then I moved back home to Houston. I was MUCH happier and so relieved to be back with my friends and family. I lived at home initially and had big plans to pay off my debt and perhaps, just maybe, be a responsible adult.

Enter the desire to be a cool adult. I was loving my life in Houston and I decided a few months in that I needed to live in a cool part of Houston (duh). So, I moved to the Heights. Never mind that my debt wasn't paid off. This was necessary in my mind. Sometimes I want to slap my past self.
The majority of my overspending went to eating out, let's be honest. 
Here's something that I already knew, but has become even more clear to me these past few years in Houston: I lack self control. I cannot say no. I don't want to be left out. Go out to dinner? Yes. Order another round of drinks? Yes. A weekend in Austin? Yes. A trip to LA? YES. Books I don't have time to read from Amazon? Yes. A fancy haircut? Yes.

And I regret nothing. I have a wonderful group of friends and I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I've done with them since moving back to Houston. However, my credit card debt has tripled since I moved to Houston. Yes, tripled. It makes me so sad and embarrassed and frustrated to admit that.
And delicious, delicious drinks. Alcohol is so expensive. :(
Plain and simple, I have been living beyond my means. And I've rationalized it by exclaiming "What am I supposed to do? Just STAY HOME while everyone goes out???". Probably.

And then my pastor said something very simple at church recently that struck me hard. He said that being in debt was a sign of idolatry. There's something I value more than being a good steward of what God has given me. There's something I think I NEED that God hasn't supplied. Something I'm procuring for myself, by my own means, because what God has given me isn't enough. I believe that if I live within the means of what God has supplied, I will suffer. I don't trust Him. 

And it's true. I'm afraid if I say no to a dinner date with a friend or a weekend out of town, that I'll be forgotten. I'll lose my friends. I'll be left out. I'm so afraid of that, that I say yes, yes, yes to appease my fears and dig myself deeper and deeper into a pit. A pit that has ultimately and ironically (I think), resulted in my having to say "no" to my friends now because I am literally out of money, my credit card is maxed, and I won't take out another.

This is a very difficult issue for me. I must make changes in my life. I must exercise self control (a Fruit of the Spirit!). I must trust God in this and all things. I honestly don't know if I can. Well, I know I can't out of my own strength, but I do not even feel confident that I will choose to rely on God in this. I am scared and kind of sad and know that things must change. But I'm also hopeful and in a sense, ready. I pray this next year of my life will be one of learning new habits that will both honor God and give me a better quality of life.

So, there's my confession. I feel better.

No comments: