Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Story of My Life

I heard myself say it recently when my husband and I were having yet another late-night talk about our financial challenges. My husband mentioned (in strictly practical terms and NOT trying to condemn me) another one of MY debts we weren't able to pay and I said, "Well, that's the story of my life."

My husband, thankfully, doesn't let me get away with much of that nonsense.

"No, it's not." He said.

I replayed what had just happened in my head.

It all started when I was 18. I got a gym membership with a three-year contract.

We moved to Arizona and the closest gym was 19 miles away from our house, 1 mile within the limitation of the contract that kept me obligated to continue paying, despite the fact that I never intended to drive 19 miles to go the gym. I wasn't working at the time and couldn't afford the payments so I defaulted on it. It would be many years later before I paid it off and only after a substantial ding to my credit.

I did learn a good lesson. I don't sign many contracts anymore. And I always advise people to be careful about gym memberships.

But that wasn't the last time.

There was our first son's birth, which we planned to be a home birth but ended up being an emergency hospital transfer.

We got to not only pay the midwives for not delivering our baby but we also got to pay enormous hospital and doctor bills, too. Why didn't anyone suggest that we get insurance, "just in case?"

Then a few years ago, I signed up for a credit card service so I could run credit cards for my home-based business. Unbeknownst to me, it also had a three-year commitment attached to it. I only used the services for about nine of the 36 months I was under contract for, but I paid the bill every month, along with other monthly processing and credit card company fees. It's no wonder I never made a profit.

Since then, there have been other minor financial hiccups and more less-than-successful home-based business ventures. More money failures, as I saw it.

The last straw was falling victim to a teeth whitening scheme that I should have seen for what it was.

I wasted many hours and about $20 to set that one right but it could have been worse. If you see an ad about "A stay-at-home mom discovers the secret to whiter teeth!" I implore you to read the fine print. Please.

That brings us up to the present when my husband mentioned my student loans.

Siiiigghhhhh. Here we go again. Just another reminder of the pattern of financial failures that have defined my adult life. And to poor husband (Mr. Perfect Credit, always-pays-his-bills-on-time, ACCOUNTANT husband) knew what he was getting himself into when my dad said, "You can marry her but you have to take over payments" married me, anyway. Bless him.

"No, it's not," my husband said that night.

Wow. To think that "The story of my life" is defined by one financial mistake after another and all the guilt, regret and self-loathing that goes with it.

When I thought about it, it went deeper than that list of "Tab's Top Five Big Money Blunders." Every time I wished I hadn't bought that lipgloss because we ended up short on grocery money that week...every time I let lettuce go bad in the fridge...every time I accidentally broke a plate or a glass...every time I gave something away to Goodwill that was a "can't live without it" purchase at the time...I felt the condemnation. I could hear the lie being whispered in my ear: "It's just like you to waste money like that. You've never been good with money and you never will be. It's just who are are."

And that became the story of my life.

But no more.

My husband said, "The story of your life is redemption. It's blessing. It's God working in and through you. THAT is the story of your life."

So I made up my mind that night. I would only use the "That's the story of my life" phrase in a positive context.

So now I try to use the phrase any time I can.

"Your team pulled off another wonderful event!"
"That's the story of my life!"

"Look at that beautiful baby! And after you had that terrible miscarriage, too."
"That's the story of my life!"

"That post you wrote really spoke to me."
"That's the story of my life!"

And when I hear the whispers, as I inevitably will...I just remind him (the father of lies) that "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NKJ)

Everyone makes money mistakes. Everyone fails to read the fine print sometimes. Everyone screws up every now and then...or even multiple times before breakfast. But that doesn't define who we are.

Or whose we are. We are "Children of God" (Romans 8:16). We are loved, forgiven, righteous and highly favored.

And THAT is the story of my life.

1 comment:

Catharine said...

Halleluiah & Amen!! What a fantastic post and one I thoroughly identify with. Isn’t it funny how easy it is to allow ourselves to become defined by the negatives in our lives? We take our blunders and blow them into an all-encompassing disaster-zone and say “Yep. That’s me. Always runnin’ up the down escalator.” And you’re right – it IS about reminding ourselves who we belong to and that our lives are lives redeemed because of the love of the Almighty God and Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf!

Thanks for more great words, Tab!!