71: Lifeline of Hope

71: Lifeline of Hope

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

Lifeline of Hope

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.

~Emily Kimbrough

The smell of fresh-cut grass tickled my nose as I watched my husband walk toward me. He clutched a letter in his fist. I turned off the weed whacker.

“They’re sending someone out here to get our stuff,” he said.

“Who? What stuff?”

“Because of those taxes they think we owe them, they’re putting a lien on our assets.”

“What assets?” I asked. “What can they take that would be worth the trip out here?”

I took the letter and glanced at the official state seal. A long, difficult battle to exonerate ourselves was proving to be futile. Due to a glitch in their system, a state we lived in for a short time was trying to collect taxes that were already paid.

Pink apple blossoms flitted around us, the joyful swirling a stark contrast to the moment. We should have been happy; the bankruptcy we filed seven years prior was finally off our credit reports. But instead we found ourselves in a pit of debt with no options other than once again going bankrupt, and we desperately wanted to avoid that. This letter sounded like a shovel crunching the soil. We were being buried alive.

The sound of the phone ringing drifted across the yard. I ignored it. It would just be another creditor and I knew too well what they would say. Another threat of a lawsuit. Another threat of garnishment. I didn’t have the energy to deal with them.

“I’m going for a drive,” my husband said and walked away, the gate banging behind him. I watched through a blur of tears. The pressure was affecting our marriage, our children, everything.

The stress was overwhelming. But greater weight came from the shame and regret we felt from once again finding ourselves in this situation. We had made poor decisions with credit after we had resolved not to. We didn’t want to shirk our responsibility, but we couldn’t see any other way out.

A few days later during Bible study, I asked the ladies to pray for us. I wanted God to meet our needs and to give us wisdom to handle this mess.

After study, two dear friends approached me. Each of them stuck a small piece of paper in my hand. I started to look, but they stopped me.

“Just take it home. We want to help.”

“Oh, I can’t,” I said. I was embarrassed to be in a place where I needed money from someone else. One look from them was all I needed to know that I had no choice. I hugged them and prayed blessings for them.

In my car I unfolded the checks. Both women were seniors. One spent her days caring for her quadriplegic husband and the other lived on a phone company pension. This was far more than they could afford. I wept all the way home.

My husband sat with a pile of bills in front of him when I opened the door.

“Look,” I said, holding out the checks. My husband took them as he looked at my face.

He looked at the checks and inhaled sharply. “Why did they give us this?”

I thought his pride must be wounded since mine had been.

“I just asked them to pray for us and then they gave me these.”

He looked at them for a while. “This will pay our electric. They can’t cut us off now.”

I took a breath and whispered a prayer of thanks. They had given us something far more valuable than cash; they gave us hope.

We were able to climb out of the pit, with God’s help, and we are stronger for the journey. But it was the hope offered by two generous friends that strengthened us to lift our heads and begin the climb.

~Kay Day

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