Have we met? Allow me to introduce myself. I am a fraidy cat. I am the daughter of Abraham. Metaphorically speaking. Nope. I didn't get his faith-based DNA. I got his fear-based DNA. When you read his kudo's in Hebrews, don't mistake me for his relative. When you read about all the times he caved into fear during his lifetime, there I am as big as a billboard and in technicolor that would make Steven Spielberg envious. Given Abraham's historic reputation, maybe there is hope for me?
Once you know me, you know that my reaction to our sudden and undeserved eviction from the little house in the garden-hood was uncharacteristic for me. I have to admit: I was 'purdy' impressed with me for laughing in the face of life within an hour of the 'get outta ma house' phone call. We sat the boys down and had a matter-of-fact chat. Even got an ice cream on the way home to soften the blow that was coming. They smelled trouble a mile away just by the looks on our faces. I told 'em what I had told God, “He's got to have a solution to this situation because we sure don't.”
By the next morning, my friend had goaded me into calling the Realtor. I waited on a call back just kicking myself for wasting the woman's time. The phone rang within 45”, and she greeted me with quite a punch line. “Well Miss Missy, what makes you think you can't buy a house?”
ROLL. MY. EYES. Here we go again. Another person to whom I can tell my sad tale for the privilege of hearing the sniff of disdain and the well rehearsed quick exit line kept on file for financial lepers like us. But, I put my best game face on knowing she couldn't see me sweat over the phone and took one for the team. I laid out in less than 3” what has taken you kind folks weeks to read. If that wasn't enough to finish her off, I ended with, “Our Chapter 13 was just discharged by the court 12 days ago. We have $3,OOO in savings in hopes of replacing one of our cars. We've just been too scared to go to a dealer knowing they will laugh us off the lot.”
My mind flashed back to our other life. The before time when mortgage loan officers and car salesman would get one look at our credit score and literally jump over each other to get us to do business with them. You know...back in the days when we were somebody. I'd seen the last of that life. I was so sick and tired of telling our sick and tired story that I was ready to scream. Only seconds had elapsed while life replayed.
“Did you say your Chapter 13 is discharged?”
“Do you have the letter?”
“Would you give me your socials?”
“Uh...uh...ok?” I stuttered and stammered my way through 2 sets of 9 digit numbers.
“Sit right there. Don't move. I'll call you back in 5 minutes.”
Try as I might, I couldn't head off the avalanche. Sobs erupted without enough advance knowledge for me to stop them. “Please, Lady, PLEASE. Don't do this to me. All we have is what we have. If you don't handle rentals, I'm sorry I bothered you. We need to get out of here as quick as we can. I need to be looking for a rental house. Can you help me do that? If you can't, I don't need you to help me do anything else. We have no family we can turn to for some sort of 'gift letter' and a wad of cash to put us back in a house of our own. Lady, Lady. Don't do whatever you are going to do. Just help me find a rental. No pets. No smokers. Hardwoods if you can find them. Please?' By this time, I was crying so hard she could barely understand my tirade.
She waited for me to quiet a bit. “Listen, Darling....why don't you let me decide what you can do or can't do when it comes to real estate. Just let me make a call.”
I hung up the phone trying not to slam it and rolled over on the sofa sobbing huge gasping sobs. Presently, the phone rang again. I sat up and managed to answer it with a shaky, “Hello?”
“Ok, Miss Missy. Did you know your credit score at this moment is almost as high as it was before you went thru bankruptcy?”
“Did you know that your credit rating is higher than mine has EVER been in my LIFE?”
“Did you know that I rarely work with anyone whose credit rating has EVER been this high even if they've never, ever been CLOSE to filing any kind of bankruptcy?”
Well, you can imagine that my level of hysteria at this point was high enough to get me committed at the same psych hospital where I had once worked. I was again sobbing uncontrollably.
“Are you going anywhere today?” Was she kidding? I was incapable of walking a straight line to the bathroom for tissue at that moment I was so undone. Did she really think I was going to inflict my hysterical self on the general public? All I needed was a hysteria induced DUI charge to make my life complete.
“Good...sit right there. I talked to someone before I called you back. A mortgage loan officer is going to call you within the hour. She is going to take your mortgage loan app over the phone. I think we can get you pre-qualified for a mortgage before close of business tomorrow. Do NOT buy a car till we have you in a house. It'll drop your score a couple hundred points for a couple of months. Wait till we close. Then, go car shopping.”
“But...but...but..we have $3,000 in savings for a CAR not a house...and that isn't even close to being a down payment. I told you, we can't pull a gift letter and a tens of thousands of dollars out of some long lost dead relative's account. Just find me a rental house, PLEASE? No pets. No smokers. Hardwoods if you can find it.”
“Don't go anywhere. My friend will be calling you within 40 minutes. I'll talk to you again after she does.”
There have been a lot of my days in my life when I felt as tho' I had been thrust into some LSD driven adaptation of the Twilight Zone. This day was one of them. I called Jeff at work. My near hysteria led him to believe something horrible had happened. Was someone dead? He rushed home for lunch to get the 411 in person. While he was there, the mortgage loan officer called. Jeff jotted down a list of documents she'd need. When we finished the call, we sat and looked at each other in stunned silence.
For frame of reference, I call your attention to the time frame in our recent American history. It was July of 2008. In a few weeks our roaring American economy would undergo its biggest challenge since the Great Depression of 1929 Ignorance is bliss as long as you are ignorant.
I hate cliffhangers. I know you hate me for leaving you on the edge of a cliff night after night. I wish I could start writing and just keep going till I'm done. Writing my way back to God ought to be that simple. It's not. The long story short is that tonight I am sitting in the house we bought for less than $3,000 out of our pockets. So, you will no doubt wonder about what a weenie I am. With a God who did a miracle of Old Testament proportions for my family, how in the world have I ended up having to write my way back to him?
If you had asked me during those short weeks would I ever be writing this story for this reason, I would have checked your breathalyzer. I was the girl whose good God had a good plan. I had spent a lot of oxygen telling anyone who would listen that he was faithful. One day, I fell. When I did, I eventually stood on my own two feet again. My heart never got up off that muddy, rocky hill.
Fear is relative. Stress is relative. Deprivation is relative. Life is relative. Some of my visitors will bounce over to my fraidy cat world, take a look, roll their eyes and say, “Sheezzz! Can she GET anymore self absorbed? This place is too neurotic for me,” and bounce away never to return. Others of you....hmm...today you wondered. Am I invisible? Does anyone see me? Why am I here? Do I matter? Does anybody see me disappearing before their eyes? Welcome home.
As much as I wrestle with my faith, I'm not sure faith really counts unless you've had to fight for it. I'm no longer impressed by blasé, robotic-like, automaton faith expounded upon by trite cliche's so common here in the buckle of the Bible belt. God bless you if you got the life that allowed you that kind of faith. Your life must be amazing. It must be wonderful to be you. Me, I'm having to fight for mine. If you know the feeling, come back tomorrow. Ok? Maybe even be brave enough to bring a friend?
Isaiah 43 1b-3a (NIV)
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)