Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. – Romans 13:8
I grew up in a Christian home. The idea of “debt of love” was something I knew about from a young age. I knew that no matter what I did in my life, no matter how good or how devout I was I could never pay back the debt of love Jesus gave me by dying for my sins. It’s an interesting concept to print on a child’s heart. That child will grow into an adult, and that adult will likely spend a good amount of time trying to understand the difference between gratitude and guilt.
As Americans, we have no problem piling on the debt in our lives. I would say we even wear it as a badge of honor. Caution is thrown to the wind many times a year as we buy homes, cars, and education, because ‘murica. We celebrate our freedom by choosing to indebt ourselves as well as our children and grandchildren.
So, what about our relationships? Does this attitude of “I’ll pay it back later, when I can afford it” translate to the way we approach relationships? Are we romantically writing checks our collective butts can’t cash?
In this age of status updates, instagram, and online dating we want our lives to look as ideal as possible. Even those of us who are “so over” social media are actively trying to show how our lives are so great we don’t have to tell the world about it….as proven by all the food pics. We buy in to our relationships early, we post our cute selfies with our new loves, and can’t wait to change our life events. We front load on our promises hoping to lock it all in. Just like that new car we are signing off on now knowing those payments are going to be a stretch down the line.
The day comes when we have fallen short in our relationship. We might hear “you never surprise me at work anymore” or “no, it’s fine, I’ll take a cab home from the airport, whatever”, and the debt starts to add up. More infractions, more debt, and our partner is certainly keeping a detailed tally. At some point your relationship will completely exceed your ability to pay it off and will be foreclosed on. In some cases you will loose much more than your partner in your life. (pre-nups! they’re for all of us)
The recovery time after a foreclosure can be difficult, you might need to meet with a counselor to understand where you failed and how to responsibly build your life back up. It’s a black mark on your record that only time and good behavior can erase. You do, however, do the work and get back to a healthy solvent place. You’re ready to invest again!
This time will be different! This time you’re going to do everything right, you’re going to plan, be thoughtful, and so so careful. You will think of little ways you can show them you care. You will make time and space. You will be the picture of thoughtfulness.
You will….till you don’t. It’s ok…even the 1% overspend. You know now that it doesn’t matter, that no matter what you do, you’ll never be able to pay back this debt. It’s kind of liberating when you think about it. So go! Go be free to recklessly love! Heck, Jesus did.