Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Broken but not Destroyed and... Learning

Today my eyes are opened to a harsh reality. Today my view on the world has changed. Today my desperation for a world wide spiritual awakening screams out to all who will listen.

While Serenity was in the hospital my eyes were opened to the abundant suffering of the ill or forgotten. Now my eyes have been opened to the cause of all that suffering. The world has grown cold. It's conscience has been seared. It's heart blackened. In the middle of an economic hardship, everyone should be drawing closer together... working with one another toward a greater good. Yet... more and more souls have become devious, self loving, stepping on who ever gets in their way just to earn the all mighty dollar. People have become inhumane, heartless, immoral.

"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:1-7

As most of you know, toward the beginning of the year, Tommy's place of employment drastically reduced his hours. They had two large lay offs. So at the time we were just thankful that God's favor protected his job. But at the same time, the loss of income sent us into a temporary financial whirlwind. We had to make a priority list of bills needing payment. We had a medical bill that in comparison to food and shelter, was just not high on our list. Tom and I both called on this bill to make payment arrangements. They wanted twice as much a month as what we could afford and REFUSED to accept anything less. The lady actually told me that even if I sent a payment in that amount, they would not credit it as a full payment and would still refer our account to collection. She was completely unsympathetic to our situation. Basically she told us we would have to make payment arrangements with the collection agency. Although at the time I was FURIOUS (I had never heard of someone refusing a payment before) I went ahead and sent in what I could afford. A couple of months later I no longer could afford half the payment. A couple of months after that we received our first letter in the mail from the collection agency saying.. it was now referring us to a lawyer for... refusal to negotiate payment. "WHAT?" I never received any notices from the collection agency... not sure if they made a mistake and never sent them or if somehow there was a mix up on our end or on the post office end. Either way, we had missed our opportunity. We immediately called them and they told us there was nothing they could do. It was in the lawyer's hands now. So we called the law office and we're told.. the only way to stop it from going to court was "Payment in full" Well.. that was just out of the question.

That night we called a debt consolidation place. We gave them all of our information. In return they told us they would contact all of our creditors. We were tied to them for an entire month. All the while thinking they are negotiating everything. The day after are first payment goes through, we get a call. "Sorry to inform you that our company is not licensed to work within your state. We're sorry for the inconvenience but it may be four to six weeks before we can refund your check." YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING! Immediately I start praying and call our bank, it turns out the transaction was still pending. I put a stop on the check with 15 minutes to spare. Praise God! Our money was returned! However, the fact still remains that for an entire month we thought these people were negotiating with our creditors. Yet.. they had done NOTHING! The very next day we receive a summons to court.

Meanwhile I'm just beyond words. "Lord why is this happening? You know that I always try my best to cover my debt. This wasn't even something that was frivolously spent. It was a medical bill.. a necessity at the time. " Not to mention the series of unfortunate circumstances. It was clearly an attack of the enemy. I mean... who has this kind of thing happen to them. But... just wait it only gets worse.

Tom takes off a day of work (which obviously was something we did not need) and we head to court with all five of our children. As we walk in the door, we have no clue where to go. We have never done this kind of thing before. I sit down with the kids and Tom goes off to ask someone for directions. He returns with a very unhappy face. "Man.. see that guy over there in the white shirt and all the piercings?" "Yeah." "He's not very nice at all. Actually he's down right mean!" "Oh.. really?" End of conversation.

Several minutes later we are corralled into the courtroom with an entire herd of people. There isn't even standing room left. All being sued by the same hospital. One by one our names are called. We go before the judge and one by one he depicts some legal jargon then tells us to go wait in the lobby. After another long wait with five kids, we're led into another room to discuss payment arrangements with a legal assistant. Now remember, we had already called the law office before our court date pleading for a payment arrangement, but we were told they would only accept payment in full. Now after dragging us to court suddenly we can payment arrangements, plus court cost, plus interest. Does that make sense? We didn't think so either.

As we enter the room our heart sinks... There sits... yes you guessed it.. the mean little man. For the first couple of minutes he seems nice enough. Tom even mentions his turn of behavior. "Hey man, thanks! You're nicer than you were the first time I saw you." "Yeah.. well. I was just really stressed out." He asks us a couple more questions, punches some numbers into his calculator than blurts out... "Let's see can you do..." then proceeds to announce a number three times as high as what the hospital was asking. Our immediate simultaneous reaction... like a hit in the gut... "UUUH... NO!"

The guy screams out at the top of his lungs... "THAT'S IT! GET OUT! WE'RE DONE HERE!" Tommy and I just look at just other in astonishment. "What?" Again at the top of his lungs. I can see the vein bulging in his neck with ever word... "I SAID... WE'RE DONE HERE! YOU'RE NOT GOING TO RAISE YOUR VOICE AT ME. YOU CAN LEAVE! GET OUT!" My husband says.. "Hey man... we didn't raise our raise. You're the one yelling." Meanwhile I glace over at my children lined up quietly against the wall and reply.. "We're not going anywhere! You're are not going to treat us like dirt." I thought the vein might burst in his neck... "DO YOU WANT ME TO GO GET THE LAWYER AND JUDGE INVOLVED." I very sternly reply.. "YES I DO. I WANT TO TALK TO SOMEONE WITH A HEART, BECAUSE YOU ARE HEARTLESS!"

The little guy storms out of the room. A few minutes later, he returns alone and declares.. "YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO GET OUT OF THOSE CHAIRS BECAUSE I NEED THEM." Tom pulls at my arm. "Come on let's just go." I look at him shaking from the adrenaline pumping through my body... "No.. it's the principle of the matter now." I turn toward the man.. "I pray you're NEVER treated this way." He gets right up in my face and again starts screaming... "YOU BLEW UP AT ME FIRST! NOW GET OUT BEFORE I GO GET THE JUDGE." I can feel tears streaming down my face as the man continues to yell. "I SAID... GET OUT BEFORE I GO GET THE JUDGE." I look directly into his eyes and a chill runs down my spine. This is not just some caulky young man. I was in the middle of a spiritual battle. I relax into the chair... "I said.. you go get him!" At this point, I had made up my mind. I was going to wait out this situation even if they had to drag my bottom to jail. I wasn't going to allow my family to be plowed over by some goofy, evil little guy in a suit.

About five more minutes into the waiting, a woman who works with him walks over to me, "Mam.. I understand you're trying to uphold a principle but we really have tons of people waiting for these seats. Could please wait in the other room?" I looked up at her and wondered how could she be so oblivious to what was happening. Does this kind of thing happen a lot? She had no emotion, no concern... just "let me do my job" attitude. I wiped the tears away from my eyes and thought about the multitude of people waiting to enter the room of doom. I didn't want to cause them anymore stress or a longer wait than necessary. So I got up out of the chair and walked out the door. We passed evil man and his lawyer friend in the hallway. "Oh.. there they are. They're leaving now!" The lawyer caught us and announced "As soon as I'm finished in the courtroom I will meet up with you to discuss a payment arrangement."

We waited for quite awhile. The entire time I can't seem to stop crying. The kids are growing more tired and more hungry and more thirsty. Finally, the lawyer comes back and we make a settlement. Although he does not yell at us... he does not offer an apology nor does he offer any sympathy for situation. He
threatened to garnish my husband's check for nearly $200 a week. Didn't seem to care if our five kids ended up on the street. Boy.. do I wish we had a lawyer. Anyway... Finally we settled on a payment close enough to our budget range. We left broken but not destroyed.

Looking back in hindsight, I realize that I should have stood strong and demanded to speak with the judge. I feel like I compromised too soon. People who are already struggling are being beaten down and broken. They know these people can't afford help for their defense. Therefore they think that gives them free reign to treat them how ever they want. It's cold and heartless and they should be held accountable. Part of me feels like I failed them. I feel like I back down too soon. But.. like all bad situations, You live and you learn.

Just two days prior to this happening, my husband's step mother called me for some advice on a particular situation. It seems every where she turns people are trying to take advantage of her. She asked.. "Do you think God is trying to teach me to be more bold?" I explained that God has been trying to toughen me up for some time now. I use to be a MAJOR push over. But over the last few years, He has been teaching me to become stronger. I think he is trying to strength his warriors, Because in these last days, He is going to need an army that isn't afraid to not back down. He's going to need an army that isn't easily swayed from what is right. So often Christians compromise what is right just to make peace. Jesus said..

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword." Matthew 10:34

The sword of course meaning...the word! This scripture is clearly defining that we must stand for what is right according to the word of God. We are NEVER to compromise the truth just to make someone happy. We are never to give in to evil just to make peace. We do not invoke violence, but when attacked we have to take a stand. We must be willing to fight for what is right and just! We must NEVER back down to the enemy. We must always stand up for what is right! In the last days, weak little Christians who are easily conquered are not going to make it! God is trying to strengthen His army. Because a spiritual battle like our minds can not even comprehend is soon at hand!

So as I recall my words to her just two days prior, I realize the purpose behind this entire attack. God is teaching me how to become a strong bold Christian and I'm learning... slowly.

I also view it as an opportunity for prayer. Just as I mentioned in this part of Serenity's story, People like this do not become cold without reason. It's rooted from some sort of void or hurt in their lives. They all have different reasons for their actions but they all need the same solution... Jesus!

So I will pray for the healing power of Christ to touch this young man's heart. I will pray for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to change his life. I will pray for God's mercy as we all know.. what goes around, comes around. I will pray his heart is softened and love fills his soul. I will pray for all those involved who made my life a little more stressful. But forgive me, because for now... I just want to cool off for awhile!

Love In Christ,


Kelli said...

I'm sorry that you had to deal with such a jerk. I'm actually in the EXACT same boat right now...being harassed and sued over medical bills. They've even gone as far as to call DISTANT relatives and bug THEM about MY bills. It is incredible what collectors get away with. Absolutely incredible.

I hope that things will work out for you and your family. So many people on my friends list are going through the same stuff...I'm praying that things will turn around for all of us very soon.

Kara Grace said...

wow, that guy's behaviour AMAZED me. Really??? I'm truely sorry about your situation. Its not fair some people are going thru the exact same thing becuase they were dumb spenders, but your $$ was spent on hard-core necessites.

I'll pray for him too...good for you all.

Stephanie RN BSN (to be!) said...

Oh my goodness, how did I miss this post? I'm so sorry that things are hard for you right now...and I'm blown away by how hateful people can be during tough times. Praying that God continues to provide for you and your family above and beyond anything you ever expected.