Just a little over 20 years ago a judgement was handed down as part of my divorce. At the time the amount decreed my responsibility seemed insurmountable, given the fact I was a single mom, working in a minimum wage job. The monthly pay arrangements that my lawyer was able to negotiate were ridiculous low, for which I was grateful, yet the amount of time it would take to pay off the debt, was overwhelming. This debt would be with me for a long time. Think home mortgage long. Adding to this burden was the feeling of injustice, given the facts. As you may know, in my first marriage I lived through a tidal wave of abuse and was forced to go along with things that went deeply against my moral compass and my spiritual beliefs. I truly felt at the time that I had no choice but to go along with whatever crooked scheme my ex had concocted and now as a result, there were debts and transgressions in my name. Debts which I was now saddled with repaying, transgressions that were mine to try and repair.
Right about the time this judgement was given, a new face entered the picture. Yes, the love of my life. I remember the night when shortly after I realized we were heading down the path of seriousness, I felt it was time for full disclosure. I was SCARED TO DEATH to tell him about this giant financial burden I carried, because I knew if we did marry, which indeed it seemed was the direction we were heading, it was a burden that would also impact him. To be honest, he was taken back-- quite a lot, if the expression on his face meant anything-- but he has always had a gracious, forgiving and compassionate nature and so with the best understanding he could muster he said we'd face this together. Ah, bless this man. BLESS this man!!
(aside note: at the risk of mushiness, I just have to give GIANT KUDO's to the man God has seen fit to bless me with. He is indeed the peanut butter to my jelly. The blue in my sky... the... well, you get the picture...)
SO. As I was saying.... 20 years ago a judgement was handed down and every month for the last 20 years I have dutifully made a payment. Some times I was able to increase the monthly set amount, some months it was a struggle to come up with the minimum. For 20 years this judgement, which has always been about more than just the money, has been a part of my life. I would write the check and send that payment off knowing the debt was being chinked away, a little at a time, and I would try to not think about the whys and the therefore's but it was always, always present. Hidden in the shadows maybe, but there none the less.
I made peace with it to a certain degree over time, as God was restoring all the broken places in my heart, mind and soul. First, I had to face my part in all of it. I was a rebellious teen who ran away from home, dated the boy my parents forbid me to, lied and finagled my way to be with him. I had to admit that no one forced me to marry him. I may have felt I had no choice in many things in my life during the marriage but I did have to own up and take responsibility for my actions. I had to forgive myself for the wrongs I did, whether it was of my own volition or something forced upon me. And I had to forgive my ex for the things he put me through. Those things were instrumental in healing and achieving a certain sense of freedom.
We live in a society where debt is common place. We take out loans and mortgages and have credit cards for all the things we want NOW but can't afford. What's one more bill to pay? But this was a bill that was attached to a bitter, shameful past. If I am honest, each month, when I allowed myself to think about what that payment represented, the old hurts would rise up and I would once again have to wrestle with forgiveness and letting go.
But, as I was saying, a HUGE burden was lifted yesterday. I opened my mailbox and found the official document proclaiming my debt PAID IN FULL, the judgement satisfied. I pressed that letter to my chest and let the tears flow. Tears of sorrow for the past, tears of rejoicing for the present and tears of hope for the future. Like I said, I am sure I will be experiencing feelings of lightness for some time to come.
Can I just take another moment to say that this feeling is but a small drop in the bucket compared to the enormous feelings of joy knowing my sins have been forgiven. That Christ PAID THE DEBT IN FULL, when He died for me. That He satisfied the judgement against me once and for all. I am FREE. In Jesus Christ, I am FREE.