Monday, July 15, 2013
When we moved back to California, I thought I had things pretty well together for our move. Everything was organized long before we picked up the moving truck, we packed things thoughtfully, such as an "unpack first" box with basic essentials, and I left our new address and contact information with our apartment office. Recently, my husband lost his wallet and we realized that if some helpful stranger found it and mailed it to the address on his driver license, it would go to Mississippi and we'd never see it. My dad informed me that you can forward your mail through the post office, which I had not known.
I set up mail forwarding, but didn't expect to receive anything more important than catalogues. After all, I had changed my address for everything I could think of -- all my student loan lenders, credit card, the Board of Nursing, etc. I was a bit surprised, therefore, to see forwarded mail arrive from my old hospital. When I opened it, I was very unpleasantly surprised to see a medical bill from an ER visit back in the fall. "Account Past Due" jumped out at me from the page, and the balance of more than $4000 made my jaw drop.
At that moment, I was in a whirlwind of emotions. I was shocked, to be sure, because I had insurance, and had never seen an explanation of benefits that would explain that amount. I was angry, at myself for not knowing about mail forwarding before and not thinking of asking someone who might know. I was in disbelief, because I had no idea how I could owe that much on one ER visit. I was immediately anxious, because we don't really have $ 4000 sitting around, but we've been budgeting and saving up for and dreaming about finally making a trip to Disney World this year, and my dream felt threatened. I was worried.
I forced myself to set all this aside, because I had to work that night. Over and over, throughout my shift, my worries kept coming back to me, and I ignored the pit in my stomach, knowing I couldn't do anything until business hours in Mississippi. The only thing I could even think to pray was simply, "Please, God, don't let this be real." When I got home that morning, I dreaded making the phone call that might confirm that I owed them $ 4000, and that would decimate our hopes for a dream vacation. I called my mom, grasping for consolation, and that helped a little.
I pulled myself together to make the phone call, utterly miserable, and gave the friendly woman my account information. She retrieved my account and I waited for the dreaded confirmation. She then cheerfully informed me, "I'm showing that you owe nothing." I think I wanted to cry from the relief of my anxiety. After having her double check, I hung up and just sat on the couch, stunned.
I know for many people, four thousand dollars isn't that much debt, perhaps isn't that intimidating. To me, though, it was so much weight added to my already heavy burden of debt. I have quite a few loans from school I'm trying to pay off, and it seems to be making such slow progress. I would love to buy a new car (we only have one), among other things, but I refuse to go further into debt at this point.
Although nerve-wracking, this experience has been such a good object lesson reminder for me. My emotional state at the thought of more burdensome debt paralleled that of sinners drowning in unforgiven sin and the heavy weight of that debt. My small but intimidating debt being simply gone reminded me of how it feels to know that Jesus has paid for all our debts. "Paid in Full" instead of "Account Past Due" and remaining balances. I was grateful to God for his Providence in our situation, but I am immeasurably grateful for his Sacrifice for all sinners. What an excellent reminder of how much grace we have to be thankful for as believers, completely forgiven of the debt of sin by a merciful God. Praise be to God, his love endures forever.