Friday, February 26, 2010

The shame of debt

I wanted to write about the shame of debt. Especially in the middle-class to upper-class suburb we live in. People are valued by their earning power. I have seen it too many times where someone loses a job or some tragedy hits and they lose their friends a well. in reading The boxcar kid's blog, she talked about how her 'friends' and 'community' she had ended up being a club that she lost membership to because of becoming homeless. It is so true. Going from one socioeconomic status to another means you lose the 'club' you were in.

I experienced this working at a church full of wealthier families. My wife and I probably were one of three people in the church who made the least. We had trouble relating to people. We could not go where they went, do what they did, or be a part of what they were a part of. I remember someone trying to help us find an apartment to rent. they kept suggesting places that were double or triple our budget for it. I recognize I could have done a better job informing people and being honest, but it was taboo to talk about money. We did (and still do) have some great friendships from there, but there were many we just could not relate to.

We should not be valued based on our net worth. It is unhealthy, and not at all the way God intended. Sure, Bill gates and I can't exactly go out on a friday night and split the bill, but there should be a general understanding and awareness of our lives.

But we see poverty and debt as ethical or moral issues. Even sin. When sometimes, its bad luck or a few bad decisions. But greed and hoarding are not always seen as moral issues. That dude with the huge house, extravagant vacations, and sweet cars can be seen as benevolent, when in actuality, he may be giving away a lesser percentage than me. We have to look into people's lives and join them in community through the ups and downs. That is part of why our friendships have drastically changed the past 4 years. I learned what a true friend is. The only problem I have now, is part of my depression/anxiety/issues is a real inability to make, develop, and keep friends. So when I value friendships and community the most, I struggle the most to pick up the phone and sit down at coffee with a friend. It frightens me. It is weird, I know.

So, delve into community with people, do not judge people at face value. And always seek to help in a way that is helpful. Sometimes, we feel like we are helping (more for ourselves than someone else) when in reality, we are not. Get to know people so you can ride the ups and downs of life without judgment.


  1. That's great advice. It seems in any relationship, you are more rewarded by slowing down, sitting down, and investing some time into it.

    Good luck on your journey. I'm headed to the gym myself!

    P.S. - Are you on Twitter?

  2. Funny you should mention it. I had been planning too- and now do @broketofree

    Good luck with the gym! I feel like the first 10 pounds are the hardest- edging closer...

  3. You are so right. I think that people have difficulty discussing money, it's a taboo concept. So when some people are struggling, they feel as thought they have no one to turn to. They may even end up ousted from the "club" because they can't keep up with the "Joneses". This kind of mentality really needs to be stopped. It shouldn't matter if your friends make more or less, as long as you enjoy their company.

    Good luck to you!