Debt

20160213_114131 (2)

There’s a guy who’s owed me $50.00 for over a year. The original debt was much larger, but with steady reminders, he grudgingly paid it down until it hit the fifty-dollar mark, and I’m pretty sure that’s where it’ll stay. I won’t remind him anymore. I’ve run out of kind words to pair with little nudges, and I’m tired of this struggle.

For a while, it was about the money, but now that it’s dwindled to $50.00, he’s making a statement of entitlement and resentment, and if I hang on, I’ll have to continue using shame to wedge myself into his conscience–a small space that makes me claustrophobic. Not worth it. I will passively forgive this debt, but I feel a little sorry for myself. Indignant.

In graduate school, a whiny woman I didn’t like borrowed two stamps from me. She never paid me back. It is astounding that I remember this, since I cannot recall what I read a half-hour ago, nor what I need at the grocery store, nor whether I’ve taken my vitamins yet.

Forgiving is a complex endeavor. There’s a highly-activated receptacle in our brains for perceived injustice, debt, and harm, and a longing for justice if not revenge. I’m not entirely sure how to forgive sometimes. Since God ‘s a specialist, I decide to check in.

“Hey God,” I say. Nothing.

“Um, God, I have a question.” Nothing.

I squeeze my eyes shut in serious prayer. Suddenly, I’m in a graduate-level course on forgiveness.  I raise my hand from the back of the classroom, but the instructor has stepped out. I take my hand back down, glancing at my classmates. Whoa. I should have looked around earlier. There’s a guy with a bloody machete, a haggard woman lying face down on the floor, with four children underneath her. Two are dead, one with an arm shot off. I see the woman is actually dead too. There’s a man holding a picture of his wife. Three people are on fire. Five soldiers stand in the back, two have amputations. One has no eyes. They all have a vacant look, slumped shoulders, automatic weapons at their feet.

I manage to stifle a scream and slip out of the room, hoping to find a back door. Instead, I find God. She’s created a makeshift kitchen in the hallway and she’s cooking soup. Baking bread. Singing. She tosses me an apron. The man who owes me $50.00 is handing out apples. The woman who took my stamps is standing, confused and inadequate, near the end of a table filled with desserts.

“Help her,” God says. “She’s a little shaky today.”

I’m not thrilled with this idea, but I see few options. I muster up a small smile, pick up a mint brownie, and hand it to this pathetic woman. Her face transforms. Of course, it’s God. I should have known. She wolfs down the brownie, grabs my hands, and we swing dance while she yodels.

“Now, about those stamps,” she says, finally slowing down.

Yeah. About those stamps.

 

 

8 thoughts on “Debt

  1. I’ve heard it might be possible to live without keeping track of the balance sheet of exchanges – the give and the take. Stop keeping score. Stop worrying about the debts I calculate I owe and the debts I feel are owed to me. But, this has always eluded me and when I try to stop keeping score I tend to focus on it even more – you know, that old problem. So, best I have come up with thus far is to try to be fair in the accounting. And know some debts don’t get paid and accept that when that happens I am going to feel a bit off because of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I once saw a documentary about a cultural group somewhere in SE Asia. There was an old man who organized his whole village to move a stone the size of a small bus over the top of his father’s grave. Afterward, he was gaily dancing about because now he was in debt to everyone in the village; debt being the social glue that brings everyone into relationship of kindness and caring for others to whom one is indebted.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Add $50.00 to the $50 owing to you and send that $100 to a charity like the Salvation Army or Samaritan Purse, and never talk about it any more. That is forgiving the debt; you will flourish better this way. I red this line somewhere, “Forgive us of our debts as we forgive those who are indebted to us.”

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s