Debt Articles

Your God Loves Debtors

Written by Steve Rhode

So many people tell me about how ashamed they feel about their financial problems. They feel like losers, cheats or just bad people for not being able to honor their repayment promises.

It is truly unfortunate that people find themselves in money trouble with debt casting a huge black shadow over their life as far as they can see.

But the tragedy in debt is not that it happens, bad things happen in the lives of many due to no fault of their own. A plane crashes, a rock falls from the sky, a truck slides on ice and loses control. Accidents and unintended events will always happen and each day that we wake up could be our last. Those are all just facts.

In my humble opinion, if you believe in a higher power or God then it is not the fact that you found yourself in trouble that you would be judged on. If you make a mistake and place yourself, intentionally or unintentionally, in harm’s way with finances, the real thing to worry about is not to punish yourself for your past error but instead to learn from that mistake and not repeat it moving forward.

There is no sense wasting a perfectly good mistake. Learn from it.

Stop worrying about how people may judge you for your past mistakes. Instead, let’s focus on making your life from this day forward, better. Be grateful, be happy, be thankful for what you have and the curses that you don’t have. When you think your life is bad, trust me, it could always be worse.

Rather than leaving yourself in a financial bind for years to come by sacrificing your health and safety to make minimum payments, consider that it is also gracious to accept responsibility for your past mistakes, address them and move forward to create a safer future and to be a better steward of the money you are making and will make now and in the future.

See also  Debt & Religion: A Look at the Islamic View of Debt With Imam Asal

I have seen many situations where the most responsible action to take is to file bankruptcy instead of limping along to make marginal payments that will never satisfy the debt. In these situations, people, after making these payments, are unable to live in a safer area, can’t save for the unexpected, can’t afford medical care or properly feed themselves. Does that make them better, more moral, or more responsible people?

Don’t allow your creditors or debt collectors to judge you. Your debt is not a statement of who you are, it is only a part of the life that you live. Collectors give you attitude and cast dispersions on you as a tool to make you feel guilty to collect more money. Let judgment stand between you and your God instead.

Now I’ve got to be honest, some of the stories that I hear from people in debt leaving me shaking my head at times and wondering, “What were they thinking?” but even the stories of the worst financial mess have never left me thinking any less of that person as an individual. Debt happens and bad debt happens to good people. Debt is debt, it is not the sum of your life and it certainly does not define you. Your actions define you. Your kindness and gratitude define you.

But that’s just me and my point of view.

What do you think?

Originally published January 25, 2009.




About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

28 Comments

  • I frequently see people making the wrong decisions on how to best deal with their because of “guilt” instead of what is logically best and the best way to move forward. I realize this is a difficult time for you but if you don’t put yourself first, who will?

    If you have not read it yet this other article will be right on target for you.

    Thank you for the kind words.

  • Hi Steve….We are an older couple…67 and 71…and the past few years have been filled with hospitalizations, Dr’s appts., new drug prescriptions, & pacemaker checks. My husband was just 6 mos. from full retirement & also full Social Security benefits when his sudden health issues brought all this into our lives. Even with a Drs. statement for light duty after his “recovery,” he was not allowed to go back to his job. Since late Fall of 2004 we have barely been getting by, trying to keep the medical bills paid and covering the ever-increasing costs of daily life.

    Now I’m the lone caregiver for my 90 yr. mother who has Alzheimer’s. We are using 70% of
    our retirement to pay for Medicare supplements and still not staying ahead of the game. We have
    dipped into our savings for many of these expenses….and the credit card debt has increased ….
    house repairs, sewer line collapsing, frig. going out, even purchasing a used car with a convenience
    check because it was cheaper interest than the bank could offer.

    We have considered seeing an attorney about filing bankruptcy. Even typing the word
    brings guilt to me. My dad was a minister and we ALWAYS paid our debts!! And so have we….
    we will have 50 yrs. together next year. But we know at this rate of min. pay’ts., we will never
    see these debts paid off.

    Your comments about debt being just debt, not morality, were so helpful. I had not thought much
    about the interest we’ve paid them all these years. Some of these cards we’ve had for 15 to 20 yrs. So I think we will see an attorney to look into what we can to eliminate this debt or at least
    see if they might settle for a lesser amt. I want to be fair about this. We had a plan in place…a good plan. And if my husband had not wound up in ICU fighting for his life, I would not be writing this note…we would be debt-free. We have no other debt or we could not have even kept up with min. pay’ts! But I am watching now the interest rates climb on these cards….making it more & more impossible to ever get them paid.

    Thanks for your words of enlightenment and encouragement about ‘debt!’
    I feel like the load is manageable now….if the attorney will be as helpful as you have been.

    Thanks….and God bless you!
    J. & E.

  • Hi Steve….We are an older couple…67 and 71…and the past few years have been filled with hospitalizations, Dr’s appts., new drug prescriptions, & pacemaker checks. My husband was just 6 mos. from full retirement & also full Social Security benefits when his sudden health issues brought all this into our lives. Even with a Drs. statement for light duty after his “recovery,” he was not allowed to go back to his job. Since late Fall of 2004 we have barely been getting by, trying to keep the medical bills paid and covering the ever-increasing costs of daily life.

    Now I’m the lone caregiver for my 90 yr. mother who has Alzheimer’s. We are using 70% of
    our retirement to pay for Medicare supplements and still not staying ahead of the game. We have
    dipped into our savings for many of these expenses….and the credit card debt has increased ….
    house repairs, sewer line collapsing, frig. going out, even purchasing a used car with a convenience
    check because it was cheaper interest than the bank could offer.

    We have considered seeing an attorney about filing bankruptcy. Even typing the word
    brings guilt to me. My dad was a minister and we ALWAYS paid our debts!! And so have we….
    we will have 50 yrs. together next year. But we know at this rate of min. pay’ts., we will never
    see these debts paid off.

    Your comments about debt being just debt, not morality, were so helpful. I had not thought much
    about the interest we’ve paid them all these years. Some of these cards we’ve had for 15 to 20 yrs. So I think we will see an attorney to look into what we can to eliminate this debt or at least
    see if they might settle for a lesser amt. I want to be fair about this. We had a plan in place…a good plan. And if my husband had not wound up in ICU fighting for his life, I would not be writing this note…we would be debt-free. We have no other debt or we could not have even kept up with min. pay’ts! But I am watching now the interest rates climb on these cards….making it more & more impossible to ever get them paid.

    Thanks for your words of enlightenment and encouragement about ‘debt!’
    I feel like the load is manageable now….if the attorney will be as helpful as you have been.

    Thanks….and God bless you!
    J. & E.

  • You make a good point. And anyone can find themselves in massive debt, regardless of income level. The very poor and the middle class and even upper middle class can end up living “paycheck to paycheck” – some people just have nicer junk, is all.

    I had a friend who bought a $340,000 SeaRay Boat (the kind touted by financial “guru” Sooze Orman). When I asked him if he could afford it, he replied “the bank thinks so”.

    Ouch. Wrong answer. And of course, it was financed over 10 years or more, so he was “upside down” on the boat for most of the loan. And then the recession hit and his business suffered and it was hard to make the payments and….whoops! Bankrupt on $100,000 a year.

    The problem is we have an entire society that promotes consumerism and materialism over more spiritual values. The television is a powerful “teaching machine” that is being used to hammer in the ideas of buying and leasing new cars, taking out payday loans, renting to own furniture, and hundreds of other bad bargains from things as large as overpriced mini-mansions to things as trivial as delivery pizza. Bad bargains all, for anyone on any income level, particularly when paid for with a credit card.

    I read online that 70% of Americans claim to pay off their credit cards every month. Yet the credit card companies – who have access to the real data – tell us that 70% carry a balance. Clearly 40% of us are lying – to ourselves at least.

    There is no point in being “ashamed” in getting caught in the debt wringer, as nearly everyone in this country does it at one time in their lives. What we should be is not ashamed – but ANGRY that we allow companies to continually entice us and our neighbors – and increasingly our children – with these bad debt bargains.

    And unfortunately, they do not teach financial management in schools at all – even in college. No one, no where in my life, ever sat me down and said “here’s how to balance a check book” or “hey, credit cards will mess you up BADLY!” or “Be skeptical of loan offers in the mail” or “buying brand new cars is one sure way to squander a lot of money!”

    So never be ashamed of being in debt. You fell for the bait – welcome to the club! If you can learn from it and start over again and this time not make the same mistakes, then many good things may come of it.

    We all wish we could have “do overs” in life. Heck, I wish I could go back in time and buy Microsoft stock back in 1983 – or those winning lottery tickets, for that matter. But you can’t. The best you can do is pick up and move on.

    I got off the materialism bandwagon this year – sold most of what I owned and paid off nearly $60,000 in credit card debt (ouch!!!!) and you know what? I am a lot happier. I own less “things” – things that I thought I would “never sell” – but I am finding that I am happier without them. Less house, less car, less subscription services, less consumption. More time for contemplative thinking and enjoying what is really important. And yes, it has meant a much improved relationship.

    If you are in debt and it is “killing you” then find a way out and move on with life. There is life after “things” – a much better life!

  • You make a good point. And anyone can find themselves in massive debt, regardless of income level. The very poor and the middle class and even upper middle class can end up living “paycheck to paycheck” – some people just have nicer junk, is all.

    I had a friend who bought a $340,000 SeaRay Boat (the kind touted by financial “guru” Sooze Orman). When I asked him if he could afford it, he replied “the bank thinks so”.

    Ouch. Wrong answer. And of course, it was financed over 10 years or more, so he was “upside down” on the boat for most of the loan. And then the recession hit and his business suffered and it was hard to make the payments and….whoops! Bankrupt on $100,000 a year.

    The problem is we have an entire society that promotes consumerism and materialism over more spiritual values. The television is a powerful “teaching machine” that is being used to hammer in the ideas of buying and leasing new cars, taking out payday loans, renting to own furniture, and hundreds of other bad bargains from things as large as overpriced mini-mansions to things as trivial as delivery pizza. Bad bargains all, for anyone on any income level, particularly when paid for with a credit card.

    I read online that 70% of Americans claim to pay off their credit cards every month. Yet the credit card companies – who have access to the real data – tell us that 70% carry a balance. Clearly 40% of us are lying – to ourselves at least.

    There is no point in being “ashamed” in getting caught in the debt wringer, as nearly everyone in this country does it at one time in their lives. What we should be is not ashamed – but ANGRY that we allow companies to continually entice us and our neighbors – and increasingly our children – with these bad debt bargains.

    And unfortunately, they do not teach financial management in schools at all – even in college. No one, no where in my life, ever sat me down and said “here’s how to balance a check book” or “hey, credit cards will mess you up BADLY!” or “Be skeptical of loan offers in the mail” or “buying brand new cars is one sure way to squander a lot of money!”

    So never be ashamed of being in debt. You fell for the bait – welcome to the club! If you can learn from it and start over again and this time not make the same mistakes, then many good things may come of it.

    We all wish we could have “do overs” in life. Heck, I wish I could go back in time and buy Microsoft stock back in 1983 – or those winning lottery tickets, for that matter. But you can’t. The best you can do is pick up and move on.

    I got off the materialism bandwagon this year – sold most of what I owned and paid off nearly $60,000 in credit card debt (ouch!!!!) and you know what? I am a lot happier. I own less “things” – things that I thought I would “never sell” – but I am finding that I am happier without them. Less house, less car, less subscription services, less consumption. More time for contemplative thinking and enjoying what is really important. And yes, it has meant a much improved relationship.

    If you are in debt and it is “killing you” then find a way out and move on with life. There is life after “things” – a much better life!

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