Her eyes told the story. She glanced around her modest dining room, her hands rested on a lace tablecloth, no centerpiece in place. The walls had not gilt or gold, just rich smiles of family. And then the camera panned back to her face, time-etched with painful worries as she looked into a steaming cup. In answer to a question, she said, “I stay because it’s right. I stay because I gave my word.”
This woman, and a few others like her, represented a documentary on people who are struggling to stay in homes valued at half or less of what they were appraised for, only a couple of years ago. My heart ached when I saw how many houses in their neighborhoods stood abandoned, vandalized, stripped of copper, aluminum, vinyl, light fixtures, and yes, even the kitchen sink. Vacant homes have destroyed the value of those still occupied. And I asked myself, “How did this happen?” The question was rhetorical.
Back when I worked at conservative, Peoples Bank, the financing market boomed. At the end of the day, we often placed stacks of unfinished files into the vault at night, because the demand for re-fi and new home loans was so high. But internally, we knew huge problems loomed on the economic horizon.
Pressures to keep up with the banking Jones’s caused great distress when we said no to customers who obviously didn’t qualify, only to find out they were approved by an institution they saw on TV. And yet, we knew we’d done the right thing. Though temptation continued, we stuck to the moral compass of ethical business. And that bank is blessed today as a result.
But what about the people who fell prey to the wiles of easy money, who signed on the dotted line and borrowed 125% of their home’s appraised value? (And those values were estimated at much greater amounts back then). What happens to people still struggling to pay a mortgage on property they’ve been told is worth 50% or less of what they owe? Aren’t they justified to pick up and leave it all behind? To let society pick up the bill?
I shout no! When we sign a contract, any contract, it is a covenant, and I believe God when He says we will be blessed if we keep our word. He doesn’t promise, however, that there won’t be hard times. The blessing is often wrapped in a process, a learning curve that feels so long we fear we’ll never come out of it. But the fact is, with tenacious faith, we do.
God promises to make a way where there seems to be no way, but He doesn’t promise quick answers, or that the way will look like you assume. The face of the precious woman who resolved to make her payments on a home worth half of what she owes, made me grateful. Not for my own comforts, although I appreciate them very much, but I am grateful for her example. I believe the process of her blessing will offer her great rewards in the end. I don’t pretend to know how God will use her circumstances, her story, but I trust He will take care of her.
And I thank Him for reminding me of a great lesson. Don’t speak without thinking, and don’t sign unless you’re willing to keep the covenant. Our word matters. There is energy and power in what we say and sign. We can change the world for good or for evil by meaning what we tell others. The world needs more heroes like the woman who stays in that modest home, because she has the courage to keep her word.
What would you do if you were in her position?
Anita FreshFaith @ Work
Numbers 30:2 (NIV)
When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri.