Thursday, February 16, 2012

He's Good!

Four years ago I posted this sign on my prayer alter.

"Jesus, if you want me, I cost $108,208.53."*

I knew in my heart that Jesus wanted me to be a stay at home mother. I knew he wanted me to be prepared to home-school a future nun (my oldest daughter) up to the 12th grade. I knew he wanted me to be a hidden Carmelite devoted to prayer. And I knew, that as an adult convert, Jesus wanted my full attention to be on  reestablishing a strong family culture of Catholicism in my home.


I had these massive, massive student loans. The vast majority ($104,000) of my loans were from a Federal Program called Sallie Mae. These were my "nice loans." There are a lot of deferments and protections available in this program. Then I had my private loans. They were horrible! I'd already used up my "forebarance time". If I was sixty seconds late in a payment, they would call my house twice a day until I caught up. (Once they went so far as to scare me with "default" over a mistaken underpayment of $10!)

There were so many times as a young stay-at-home mother that I truly thought I was going to have to get a part time job at Target just to come up with the extra $250 a month to pay off my private student loans.

God bless my husband who kept trying to reason with me that taking a late night or weekend shift at Target while being pregnant and/or breastfeeding 3 new babies in four years was not a good idea.

Being of stubborn heart, I didn't listen to him!

I had to pay these loans back, right? It was my duty!

So then my husband tried another tactic. (My love is filled with wisdom of the Holy Spirit!) He kept telling me "We're okay this month. We might run into trouble next month and you might have to get a part-time job in the future. But as for right now, we're okay! We can pay your loan." And I'd reluctantly agree to drop the "help wanted" section of newspaper and go back to cooking meatloaf.

I wasn't sure how in heaven we were going to keep being okay with my lovely contribution of "giant debt/zero income". So I turned it over to prayer. Every time I got scared of our poor financial outlook, I'd kneel by my homemade sign and say "If you want me Jesus, you're going to have to pay it off. I cost  $108,208.53!"

It's so amazing. I never, ever saw a "grand plan", but step-by-step Jesus handed me the financial ability to pay off my student loans. Thanks to a new government plan the reduces your student loan payment based on income and family size, my gigantic $104,000 Sallie Mae loan will cost my family $40 a month for the next 20 years.  Afterwards, all the remaining debt is forgiven. What a blessing!

Today, without any tricks or special favors, I paid American Education Services $213.08. With that payment, I'm finished paying off the last of my "nasty" private student loans forever!

He's good that Jesus! He's good!

Loving Jesus, you want our hearts to rest in you. Help us smooth out whatever wrinkles keep us from embracing our vocation, including those evil student loans.Please give special peace to those future nuns, monks, and priests who worry about paying off their student loan debt before entering into your service.

* I wanted to add that the whole time I was in "panic debt mode" I wanted Jesus to just hand me $108,000 in ready cash so that I could pay off my student loans before committing to being a full-time, unpaid, stay-at-home mother. He didn't do that. Now I see some of that wisdom. I had to depend on my husband to come up with the money out of his, I mean, our paycheck. That inter-dependence was so healing for my marriage.
The extra burden that we had from our student loans (my hubby's is almost as awful as mine) forced us to be Carmelites that are poor in fact, as well as poor in spirit. If you haven't tried voluntary poverty for the Lord--it is super cool! There are so many countless spiritual benefits.
Finally, it's good to through the whole Suze Ormond over-planning thing out the window if you want to go on this Catholic adventure with our Lord. We're called to be prudent. Yet we're also called to step out in faith. I found that this balance often means, "I'm in the black for this month, but I have no idea how we're going to stay there one, three, or six months from now." But the Lord always provides! Either some unexpected money comes in or some threatened bill goes away.