My fiancé and I were walking in the early evening to the grocery store near the seminary where we lived. I had been worrying about this moment for days—really, for weeks and months. Our wedding day was four months away and I had yet to tell him about the extent of my personal debts. And I knew I had to tell him even though I was terrified and deeply ashamed about my disastrous finances.
As we held hands walking across the street, I took a deep breath and prayed for courage.
“Love, I need to tell you that I have a lot debt,” and the words began to pour out. “I owe back taxes, thousands still on an old student loan, and I owe my parents thousands of dollars.”
I began to cry as he walked alongside me in silence.
“Okaay,” he finally responded. “We’re still getting married.”
As we entered the store, we physically separated as I needed to be away from him as the feelings of shame washed over me. I also felt vulnerable standing in the harsh light of the store—I could see him and he could see me—and I felt exposed, wanting to hide. I could not, at that moment, see how courageous I was in finally telling my fiancé my deep, shameful secret.
We purchased our groceries, walked home, each of absorbed in our own thoughts. Finally, he said to me, “Either you have the best timing or the worst timing, telling me this as we walked in the dark to the store.”
I said, “I didn’t want to see your face when I told you.”
“Well, I’m glad you did and we will work though this,” he said.
Within a few weeks after telling my truth I received a check for a significant amount of money, my apartment rent was reduced, and we received many financial gifts for our wedding. Shortly after our wedding I began a job that enabled me to pay my back taxes and student loan. Most importantly, my parents forgave my debts, for their own reasons that they never shared with me. Nearly twenty-two years later, the only debt we carry is our mortgage.
Of course, this is not to imply that telling the truth will solve all of our problems but bringing secrets out of the poisonous muck into God’s healing light and love begins the healing. I believe, our problems begin to resolve as our healing deepens.
As I look back now, I see that telling my truth began to set me free from the shame and bondage of my debts.