On February 10, I did my taxes.
So what, you may be saying. Everyone but politicians and the super-rich pays taxes. Nothing’s certain except death and taxes, etc. And you wouldn’t be wrong. But for me, this year, getting the tax return means paying off the last bit of debt off to my parents. It means freedom from a trap I’ve been ensnared in since I signed up for a credit card in college (the bribe from the credit card company was a $25 phone card). It means I’m finally free from that initial debt; from my parents bailing me out of that initial debt; from getting into horrible credit card debt a second time with TWO cards (I mean, 0% interest for 6 months, amirite?); from going over-cost on college and having to pay my parents back (my only college loan, praise God); from payments on multiple cars; and even from a running tally with a friend (we’ll have each other pick up event tickets or food and clear out the tally every few months). I stopped using my credit card in 2012, and I’ve actually been free from the corporate debt for a year now—since last year’s taxes, in fact—but with this year’s taxes, I am fully free of personal debts as well. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t even owe anyone a Coke.
And it feels good.
I wrote this sonnet over a decade ago, when I was making an $18,000/year stipend and was leaning on my credit cards to be able to do virtually anything (like, say, eat). The urgency is long gone, praise God, but even so, and especially now, it remains true that it’s all God’s to begin with. I’m just the steward.
Originally written July 28, 2007
Remind me once again, Lord, how you own
The cattle grazing on a thousand hills—
The birds, the fish, the cedars, Yours alone—
Remind me of this when I pay my bills.
Remind me once again, Lord, how I own
A thousand books, guitar, a mandolin,
Computer, T.V., car with half-paid loan;
Remind me when my debts come due again.
For everything I’ll ever own is Yours
And Yours alone—a poor steward am I!
I buy such things that I cannot afford,
Then, when my debt increases, I ask why.
I should be bankrupt with all these bills due.
Only because You’re faithful, I pull through.
(Side note: the header image for today’s sonnet comes from the background of this DuckTales fan art and was graciously provided by my good friend Jonny Jimison. Clearly, now that I’m debt-free I’ll be swimming in cash Scrooge McDuck-style in no time.)