By Amy Hauptman

Debt Is Like Dirty Laundry

I – like most college graduates – will be “wearing my debt” for the next 5-20 years after graduation. 

Recently, Mission Network News Online reported that “the average college debt for the class of 2011 has reached $22,900—an 8% rise from last year.” While debt is a growing problem for this generation, my attitude towards debt has been apathetic. I think, “I’ll deal with that situation one day.” Since graduating, my personal debt is something I try to forget about. Putting it ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ became my default. On the other hand, my understanding of money can be as backwards as the Saturday Night Live skit “Don’t Buy Stuff.”   

But now, I have started wondering: why am I not angry about being in debt? Have I settled for living my life this way? Have I just succumbed to a culture of apathy? Can I even blame culture, systems or structures? Or is there something deeper? Does money have some kind of control over me? Or is there anyone to blame but myself?

A couple days ago, I read a passage from the book of Job and was moved by Job’s perspective. He receives news that his livestock, family, and servants have all been killed. Read what happens next:

“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:20-22

In this passage, Job’s perspective surprised me. Despite having just lost everything he held dear, he recognizes that he came into this world with nothing, and he will leave this world with nothing.  And everything in between birth and death is a gift from God.

Job’s response makes me wonder: How often do I look at my world around me and recognize that everything I have is a gift (like those leftovers in my fridge or my old-but-dependable car)? Or how often do I look around and think that I deserve more (like that all-you-can-eat-sushi buffet or a newer car)? And then it hit me: my debt is not the issue. Even though I have always been concerned about my immovable mountain of debt, the true mountain that needs moving is my heart and attitude about it.

God, forgive me for the ways I don’t recognize your many good gifts and choose to live in a state of apathy. Change my heart and attitude to be more like yours, so that I may enjoy the gifts that you give, and in turn give generously to others.


“Could you tear a $1 dollar bill in half?” Watch a short video about one of the best ways to break money’s power.

Are you ready to “Stop Buying Stuff You Cannot Afford”? Go to www.mint.com and make a budget!  Deciding how you spend your paycheck before your paycheck arrives is the best way to regain control over your spending and reduce your debt.

Trying to decide if graduate school is worth going into debt for? Read what mentors at The Well say.

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Comments

Thanks, Amy, for this great challenge. Looking at our stuff differently would have a huge impact on us. I'd love to be more grateful for what I have and less concerned by what I don't. Thanks! Steve

To Steve, thanks for commenting on the blog and I am honored that this post blessed you!

Amy, this is fantastic! You're learning from your pain and helping others too! Thanks for the links!

dear anonymous, Thanks for the encouragement! I hope you find the links helpful =)

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