I’m a well-educated millennial. It didn’t take two masters degrees for me to learn how to balance a budget, but now that I have them, it seems that for the foreseeable future I will have a line item reading “Student Loan Repayment.” In my first years after school, I wasn’t really thinking about the long-term consequences of having them, but I was forced to when I tried to do the most adulty of adult things last year.
Adonis and I tried to buy a modest townhome and our debt to income ratio, because of my extensive education and my chosen underpaid profession, resulted in a denial of the home loan. Man, I cried and I CRIED. I felt – and still feel, to some extent, like a failure – despite everything I’ve achieved and how hard I’ve worked, my financial profile somehow makes me unworthy of this official step. I feel like I’ve ruined my life and I had the greatest of intentions in pursuing my education. While I am quite sure I’m not the only person in this situation, it is difficult for me not to feel self-pity.
I have had several months to reflect on my impassioned reaction. It is interesting to me that I was so profoundly disappointed to not acquire something that I have been historically quite dispassionate about. I often say that I ran out of commitment juice when I got married – no. more. long. term. THINGS. EVER. When I think of homeownership, it honestly seems like a drag – the landlady has more responsibility than the tenant. The ONLY perks are 1) a fixed cost in monthly payment (hahaha that commitment is okay I guess) and 2) building equity. So why was I so upset?
Welp. The most reasonable explanation is that no amount of education can stop the ungodly reflex of lamenting that “everyone else is doing it.” Honestly, the worst part of that is if everyone else is doing AND not everyone else is as educated as I am, maaaaan I have really made some poor (rimshot!) choices. I am half-joking when I tell people that my mind is my mortgage, but for now, that seems to be true. Truer still when the literal meaning of mortgage – DEATH PLEDGE – is examined. I suppose no one would come to foreclose upon my mind and repossess my degrees, but it most certainly feels like it is going to be with me forever.
Paul wasn’t lying to Timothy.
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:10 (NASB)
I have no wish to wander. Yes, I have an obligation to pay this debt, but that is no reason for me to pierce myself and pine for something that clearly God did not want me to have in that moment. Perhaps my name may never be on a title, but the most important title I will always hold is child of God. The debt I must focus upon is the one I have to God for making a meaningful life possible.
Pray for me.