The biggest struggle I have had with pride in my life, and I think many others struggle with this as well, is asking for help. In 2007, my husband and I purchased land in Brandenburg. Later that same year, we broke ground on a log home that he had always wanted to build.
The date is wrong on this picture. This was probably 2010, because the front porch doesn’t have posts or rails yet. But we would soon need the pot of gold that is supposed to be at the end of this rainbow.
When we started building our home, the economy was strong and growing, and I had a superb line of credit, and my husband’s was very good as well. We also had equity in the house we currently lived in.
We decided (foolishly; learned the hard way) to use this credit to build our dream home, which meant we used huge lines of credit ($10,000) on multiple, zero-interest credit cards and a home equity loan. For several years, this plan worked just fine. We had debt, but we were able to pay on this debt, and when the house was finished, we would roll all the debt into a mortgage on the new house.
Then the economy tanked, gas prices skyrocketed (and we were driving back and forth from Shively to work on the house in Brandenburg), the book business, which was my income at the time, also flatlined, because reading was a want, and not a need. And the biggest kicker…Congress passed some type of legislation where credit card companies could, without missed payments, hike rates on their credit cards to the maximums.
We suddenly could not pay all the credit card bills and the mortgage. The housing market had also tanked, so the equity we had in our house…you probably guessed…was also gone. Instead, we had a house we desperately needed to sell, and houses were not selling.
We had creditors calling us at all hours, and we managed to negotiate reasonable payment plans with some, while others sued, and we ended up with judgments against us in court. We eventually worked out payment arrangements for most of the major debt, but in order to pay these creditors, we needed to get rid of the mortgage we had on the other house.
Finally, we got an offer, but in order to close, we would need to bring $11,000 to the closing table. Needless to say, we didn’t have $11,000. Time to swallow pride and admit to the mess we had gotten ourselves into and turn to family to help.
We drove to Mt. Washington to talk to my brother. Gary actually did most of the talking. I was mortified into silence, and filled with shame. But even though my sister-in-law wasn’t too hip on the idea, my brother agreed to lend us the money. He asked to be paid back in 6 months (figuring we could get a mortgage on our new home).
So, we sold our house and confidently went the very next week to get a mortgage on our new house. This mortgage would not only pay my brother back, but take care of all the credit card debt. But once again, with the economic downfall, mortgage lending had dramatically changed. They had a specific credit score that they would not go below (despite the fact that we had much more equity in our new home, then credit card debt and my loan to my brother combined). But both our credit scores had now been severely damaged. We soon found that we could not get a mortgage.
Gary massively swallowed his pride, and he began calling friends to see if he could get a $11,000 dollar loan from them, so we could at least pay my brother back. We spent the entire 6 months, trying every avenue we could to get my brother his money back. It wasn’t to be.
Time to swallow more pride in a big gulp. We would have to let him know that we would have to send him money each month (probably for 10 years) in order to pay him back. I won’t get into what happened with my brother, because it’s still painful. I will always be grateful he lent us the money, and we paid all his loan back, plus a few hundred more (But it took us in excess of 7 years to do so ☹), as it did with all our other creditors.
Some of what allowed this to become a hurtful situation with my brother was still pride. Over the 6 months after he lent us the money, we didn’t communicate the struggle we were going through trying to get him his money back. In fact, we were very cut off, because we weren’t answering our phone and had our message machine turned off (not to avoid him, like he mistakenly thought, but to avoid credit card creditors). So, my brother believed we didn’t intend to pay him back.
Proverbs 16:18 (MSG) 18 First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
I can’t say that I don’t still struggle with pride when it comes to asking for help or admitting failure. But God tells us in scripture: Psalm 25:9 (NIV) 9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
I highly encourage you to send pride packing in all instances, and heed God's words and not the enemy's. It is only with God that all things are possible.
Matthew 19:26 (NIV) 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”