I have been very proud to present the exclusive online presentation of "Communications in the 21st Century" by Rev. Dr. Trey Kuhne, LMFT. My sincere thanks again to Dr. Kuhne for such an outstanding, insightful series. Here is Part Six:
As you no doubt have been hearing in the news lately, more and more families across America are foreclosing on their homes due in part to adjustable rate mortgages ballooning payments beyond affordability or becoming upside down in a mortgage, in essence where the house is worth less than the remaining mortgage. The financial crisis of the banking industry is really a financial crisis of consumer debt and greed. We spend more than we can afford to pay. We have been consumers and not stewards. And that consumerism has gotten the best of us.
In January 2010, you may have heard of a new company that was started called YouWalkAway.Com. This company actually helps home owners to strategically default on their home mortgage, literally walking away from their contract; to walk away without emotion, without guilt, and with full knowledge of the consequences of doing so. As a generation, we have tried to maintain a level of prosperity/materialism we saw our parents achieve on one income that we now cannot afford even on two incomes.
I would like to propose a potential response to the average family who finds themselves in a financial crisis. Besides becoming educated about money, debt, and stewardship through Dave Ramsey or Crown Financial Ministries, I believe there is another strategy that can be incorporated that could yield positive results: Being willing to bend and flex; being willing to change. Being willing to let go.
Families struggling with financial debt can bend and flex by being willing (and even humble) to drop down a few class levels – drop expensive memberships, drop expensive cars, drop the perks (the kids cell phones, cable tv, the boat, the lake house, etc), and maybe even drop the home. Though many reading this could never, ever think about shifting from their point of stability and security – I believe that being willing to bend and flex is one of the greatest characteristics of being a Believer today. Isn’t it rather odd that the only time we really ever think about downsizing or reducing our debt is when we retire. Why can’t we be willing to downsize our lifestyles now, as a way to secure our family and better manage what God has entrusted to us?
I am willing to guess that everyone reading this knows of someone who has gone from riches to rags in the last few years. Multi-millionaires have literally become wiped out. Middle-class families have lost everything. And when money is wiped out, we bend and flex and go back to the basics. Husbands and wives go back to work, even taking seemingly menial jobs to keep the family afloat. We bend and flex. We rise to the occasion of what is needed to provide the basic needs of the family, and in the process we find that some of the basics of life are what give us meaning and purpose. Children in expensive colleges have had to transfer to a less expensive community college or have had to get a job to help secure their education. Families have gotten out of their high monthly car payments and into cheaper fully paid for cars. But that is what it takes to bend and flex amidst the challenges and difficulties of our world. As Dave Ramsey says on his radio show, “The paid off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice.”
I believe there will be more bending and flexing to come. Some families are learning some very difficult lessons about stewardship and management of the resources God has placed in their lives. And as we bend and flex, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).
Bending and Flexing with you,
Dr. Trey Kuhne is a pastoral counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist with Pathways Pastoral Counseling located at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, 400 Dupre Drive, Spartanburg, SC 29307. He specializes in working with individuals, couples and families. Call (864) 542-3019 for an appointment. He may be reach via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.