A Personal Story of Debt Forgiveness
I have had a long history with debt. From childhood to adulthood, I can look back and see my trajectory. I can see how debt was my self-imposed burden and how I found recovery. I know now that I have forgiven debt and have been forgiven. I know the folly of keeping score.
When I was a boy, I lost the keys to the front door of our house. My dad stepped in and got the locks replaced for the key that I lost. Then he said that I was going to pay something like $90 back with labor. I didn’t have a job, or any sources of income because I was 10 or 11, I can’t remember. So I would just report to him for something to do and he would assess the work and assign a value to the work. When the work was done, He’d subtract that amount from the balance. I was grounded until that debt was paid off.
He kept a ledger of my debt and payments on the door of a closet by the front door of our house. The days rolled by. The days became weeks and months and the ledger grew long. It seemed to me like I would never get this debt paid off. And then one day, he forgave the remainder of my debt and told me that I was free to go. I was forgiven for my debt. My sin. Later in life, I would return the favor to the universe.
I don’t remember what the balance was when my dad forgave my debt. It seemed to me that he finally grew tired of the effort required to keep track of the debt. Maybe he even had empathy for me, knowing that I didn’t have any other way to earn money, especially if I was grounded. When he forgave my debt, I found relief and release.
I made a point to be more vigilant about my house key. That lesson would be the only time that I have ever lost my keys. I developed habits that ensured that I knew where my keys were at all times. I don’t leave my keys anywhere that I might lose them from. I guess I’m a little bit compulsive about my keys, but I like to know where they are.
Much later in life, I got a job at a retirement home. I got a credit card. I bought some stuff. I got a few more credit cards and bought more stuff. And I was in debt again. Creditors were calling me. I got into program and started paying off my debts. I got married. I moved. A lot had changed, but I still paid off my debt. Back then the total amount was about $6k and I had it paid off in a few years once I got stable again.
I’m in my second house now. We bought it new and we needed landscaping. So my wife and I looked around. We found a landscaper. He seemed to offer nice pricing for the work. We hired him. We gave him a down payment. He dug a ditch and asked for more money. Then we gave him all of the money because, “I need to buy more materials”, and he was gone with $6500. I didn’t know it at the time, but his brother had died. He was going through something and we just happened to be there.
I went to the authorities. They tried to track him down, but he was slippery, that landscaper. We hadn’t done our research until after the landscaper took off with our money. We learned that he’d been arrested for numerous crimes like assault. I didn’t need that in my life, so I let it go.
I still had money to finish the job, so I hired another contractor, only this time, I made sure he had a business license and some referrals. I saw pictures of his work. I called the referrals he provided and he checked out. In a few weeks, the landscaping we needed was done, but we were still out of that $6500.
My wife tracked him down on Facebook. She found that the errant landscaper had bought a nice new red truck. We noticed that the pictures carefully omitted the license plate on the truck. The GPS data on the photos were removed by Facebook, so we had no way to track it down.
A year goes by. We see the truck again on Facebook, only now the truck is on blocks with no tires. The landscaper, down even harder than before, was selling the parts off of the truck for the money. I had given up before, but by this point, I forgave him.
Time passed and then I began to notice that the money kept coming back. We had savings and that savings would go down to almost nothing every winter. In the spring, we’d get a tax refund and a bonus. It was like the flooding of the Nile every year and the money kept coming back. It was almost like the universe acknowledged my forgiveness of the debt and sent more money to me. So I stopped keeping score and I really started to save money. With each year, we’re accumulating more because money attracts money. You know, like gravity.
I’m a lot more scrupulous when it comes to contract work for my home, but I’m realistic. I know that a contract is only as good as the parties who sign it. I know that problems come up. I know that it’s up to me to assess the risk of any purchase or offer of work for hire. I also know that money is fungible. It can be replaced. People cannot.
I don’t know what became of that guy who walked off with my money, but I have forgiven him. Because I forgave him, I’m better today. I just paid off a 401k loan that I used to pay off a car loan. I’ve paid off a few other debts, too. I have a medical debt I want to pay off this year. And last year, we had a series of earthquakes that damaged a wall on the boundary of my property last year. I had the money to pay for repairs to the wall, too.
Money comes and money goes. With each big bill that I had to pay, I kept seeing the money come back to replace what I had spent. I really can’t explain it. I see the money go out and it comes back. I’m finding money in places I didn’t know were there.
I’ve made the credit cards my servants now. I pay the balance once a week so that the balance doesn’t get too big. I never pay interest any more. When I use the cards, I get a discount or a rebate, or both. That doesn’t seem like much with each purchase, but they add up to something we can use later.
I’m not rich, and I’m not poor. I’ve just noticed that life is not so hard once I forgave someone for their debts. In that regard, my life is kind of surreal. It just keeps coming back. Of course, I’m working a day job, but I had always been working a day job. I just changed my attitude about money. And yes, the stimulus checks do help and I did spend some of that money. I know that the money was sent to us to spend, to keep the economy going. When I pay off my debts, I increase my purchasing power, too. And that means I can add a little bit more to the economy. The money I spend today will save a job tomorrow.
I forgave that landscaper for his debt to me. I didn’t do that for him. I did that for myself. By my forgiveness, I saved myself the trouble of tracking him down, time spent in court, and the worry that he might entertain some sort of reprisal. I began to realize that his debt to me was really a debt to the universe. I began to see that his debt to me was a greater burden for him than it was to me. I let go of my part of that burden with forgiveness.