Admit problem to beat debt

Back in 2008 when we began our journey of paying off $127,000 in debt, I would have told you I had all sorts of problems.

Money problems (particularly not having enough).

Paying attention problems.

Organizational problems.

Maybe even a spending problem.

The two problems I wouldn’t have admitted to or perhaps even recognized in my own life were my contentment or patience problems.

I’m a fairly happy person. I’ve always known that I was blessed — great parents, a loving husband, a warm bed to sleep in at night, little girls who some days drive me crazy but always fill my heart with more love than I ever thought possible. I knew that good things come to those who wait, that hard work and time yield a great reward. Even still, my eyes were blinded to my own dissatisfaction with what I had been given.

As we went through the early motions of setting up a budget, streamlining our spending, visualizing victory over debt, keeping records, learning about coupons, and more I really didn’t connect the problems of my soul and my problems with money. Maybe it was an instance of “fake it until you make it” or speaking words before they have true meaning. I knew I wanted to be free from debt. What I didn’t know was that I needed to be freed from so much more.

If you want to kick debt in the teeth, you have to realize that you have much, not little.

It’s an odd shift. But let’s try it together right now. Look up from the paper for a minute. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

Back? What did you see? Did you see all you had? Or everything that you don’t have? Did you see four solid walls? A soft place to sit? People you love? Beautiful art? Pieces of technology? Did you look out a window and see a home safe from dangers?

Maybe you glimpsed cabinets filled with food or even a sink filled with dirty dishes attached to a faucet filled with clean water. Maybe you saw a small child scoot across the floor or a pile of laundry. Maybe your favorite things or a project in need of completion caught your eye.

My guess is that you saw a lot, not a little.

Debt? Most of the time, it’s not really a problem. It’s a symptom.

Debt can be a symptom of not getting what we want immediately when we want it, a symptom of seeing our world through a lens of poverty instead of one of wealth. We focus on all that we do not have.

We toss very good gifts aside in pursuit of something New! Improved! Bigger! Better! Prettier! Trendier! More! We look up from the paper and all we see is what we do not have. We cast down our blessings and trade them in for promises of something that will never be enough.

Can I share a little secret of the universe revealed to me through four years of sacrifice and introspection when it comes to spending? You can never have enough. You can never save enough. You can never be enough. You can never own enough … not until you realize enough is enough.

My problems of patience and contentment wrecked our finances. Honestly, I have absolutely nothing to show for it. There’s no walk-in closet filled with designer names. There are no expensive furnishings or photos of luxury vacations.

It’s kind of sad that most of what we wanted via the $16,500 in credit card debt was so temporary — a meal out on the town, a bargain deal, extra grocery items that we didn’t need. All because we didn’t realize the wealth already in our possession.

Kicking debt in the teeth requires you to inventory all you have with fresh eyes. How can it be used? What will you do with your great wealth? Are you missing a miracle because you see all you don’t have instead of all that you’ve been given?

Pause and look up. Take an accurate account of what you already have. Those, my friends, are very good gifts. Change your lens and then begin the battle of slaying your debt.