28 year old otherwise healthy white male presents to his primary care provider at the behest of his wife. She’s worried about his lack of sleep and sex drive, irritability, weight gain, and fatigue. His father and other relatives abuse alcohol and he’s been hanging out with them more. This change in behavior worsened after they had their third child – an unplanned pregnancy. His love of fatherhood is dampened by financial burdens. A couple of years ago they received a large tax return and decided to use it as a down payment for a time share. The declining real estate market led to increased monthly fees and difficulty selling the property. His wife would go back to work but daycare costs more than she could make. They’re becoming masters at moving money around, sometimes using credit to pay off credit. He can’t see a way out and just wants something to numb the pain.
Unfortunately, they’re not alone.
The amount of debt carried by American households has more than tripled since the 1980s. While I was growing up, so was the percentage of households that carried >$10,000 credit card debt. It grew exponentially from 3% to 27% during 1989 to 2006 (1,2). Our health, however, has gone in the opposite direction. The more debt one has in relation to assets, the worse one views their overall health. Increased diastolic blood pressure, stress and depression occur regardless of prior socioeconomic status, psychological or physical health (1). We’re turning to other comforts like food and substances. We’re avoiding meaningful human interaction and physical activity. We are at the end of ourselves.
We read the fine print. Deterioration of our well being is not listed.
Because of His unmerited favor, His grace, we can be healed and whole. As an ever present help, He meets us where we are. He freely gives.
A new starting point.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 NKJV
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. Matthew 5:3 MSG
That’s the place of true freedom. It only requires acceptance and forgiveness of others and ourselves. My biggest struggle is setting my mind toward the right type of acceptance.
I’ve come across two: acceptance with freedom and acceptance with apathy.
Acceptance with apathy is committing living “suicide.” It forces us to resent. Told hold on to past hurts. To put up walls. To focus on ourselves. To forsake. To separate.
Acceptance with freedom allows us to fully engage despite difficulties. For this guy it could be debt counseling services, talk therapy, exercise, diet and even medications. To live in expectancy of the goodness of God despite past mistakes. He needs to know that sometimes, when things get bad, it’s an opportunity for us to accept our freedom from things that look like they are tying us down. For:
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 NKJV
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. Matthew 5:5 MSG
Be well, Beloved!
Sweet, Elizabeth et al. “The High Price of Debt: Household Financial Debt and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Health.” Social science & medicine (1982) 91 (2013): 94–100. PMC. Web. 23 Jan. 2018.
Garcia J. Borrowing to Make Ends Meet: The Rapid Growth of Credit Card Debt in America. New York: Demos; 2007