Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Friday, December 07, 2012


In the last year I've swallowed my pride and accepted help. Help from my mom.  Help from pharmaceutical companies.  Help from Cleveland Clinic to the tune of at least $50,000.  Food stamps.  I am probably forgetting something. Oh yeah, Dr. Mind and his employer.  That's a huge one.  With all of those I had to get used to needing the help.  But it happened, usually as I saw I had no other choice, and I've been grateful for what I have been given, more so than words can describe.

There is one that still bugs me.  Backtracking, I had student loans throughout undergrad and grad school.  Most of my senior year and grad school were covered by loans.  My mom helped repay the senior year later when she was making more; at the time we had her teacher's salary and 3 people in college.  In the 12 years since I graduated a lot of that was paid off.  My final private loan was down to $300 when I learned I wasn't going to be working anymore.  However, that left the ominous BIG LOAN.  That was grad school mostly.  It was a huge amount initially (I don't remember) and seemed to never go down.  Partly this was because I had to put it on forbearance whenever I was on disability.  This resulted in the payments increasing from about $350 to $475 over the years.  In theory it would have been fine.  I took out the loans knowing that I would be making a good income.  And during the time before I was most ill I really did make a lot of progress.  I paid all of my loans at double the minimum for 2 years until my medical costs became prohibitive.  And then as the smaller loans were paid off and the big one loomed suddenly I wasn't working and wasn't likely to work for many years if ever.  So I went through a process called discharge.  It released me from the loan although there are a bunch of rules to follow and if I am well enough to have work within some time frame I'll resume payments.  I don't remember the details.  

I know that I didn't default on the loan.  I know that getting a discharge is quite difficult, especially for mental health issues and that getting one means that they truly believe I am "that sick".  Dr. Brain filled out a good bit of paperwork for them and like all paperwork in this thing she was probably blunt and descriptive of "Jen I met" versus "Jen today" and how hard I fought to work but lost.  But I keep reading about how many people can't pay those loans and I feel bad because I had a way out.  Granted it was a way out that came at enormous cost to me.  It was a way out I didn't want; I'd much rather be making those payments and working.  I think that application was the only one I did that was covered in tears.  I had no way of knowing that this would happen when i took out the loans.  I did know it was my only way to higher education and like I said, payments shouldn't have been a problem.  Had I never had to pay for $400 or more out of pocket every month for meds, `had I not had multiple forbearances that increased the payments, had I not become unable to work for the foreseeable future, those loans would have been paid off.  I paid 1/3rd of them, plus a bit.  I tried.  But reading that 11% of people with federal loans are significantly behind makes me sad because my discharge (not default like I keep wanting to say) at least would have been some money into the messed-up system.

Oh well.  Disability was what I was supposed to do at this point and the humbling that goes with that may last a long, long time.


Michal Ann said...

Jen, try going to Biblegateway.com and searching for verses that might encourage you. Your regret over your current situation is causing a lot of pain. Can you accept my forgiveness? You can forgive yourself and I can be a stand-in for the wider community? As fellow believers, we can play that role in each others' lives. You know you're doing what you need to do at this point. I know you feel very SAD about this outcome but try not to feel GUILTY, somehow responsible for "the messed up system."

I'm not quite sure how you intended to use the word "humbling" in your last sentence but it reminded me of this scripture:

I Peter 5: 6-7

6 Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you,

7 Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

There is much more to consider if you read the surrounding verses...like warnings about the "roaring lion." "Be alert, be on watch..."

I love your good heart and strong conscience, Jen. Just take care not to overload yourself with things that you can't act upon at the present time.

This sure sounds similar to the Serenity Prayer, doesn't it? Winston Churchill said:

"Life can be either accepted or changed. If it is not accepted, it must be changed. If it cannot be changed then it must be accepted."

Toward acceptance, Michal

Anonymous said...

You know what my first thought was when I read this post? This:

"I feel like the amount owed in loans is NOTHING in comparison to the lives you touched, and people you helped while working."

I agree with Michal... feeling sad? You bet. This situation didn't play out like you had always planned. And that's the thing... you did not intentionally do one single thing to feel guilt for!

So, please try to let the guilt thing go and remember that sometimes we "pay it back" in other ways than money. You've done the best you can do with what God has given you, and I am willing to bet that to Him your loan debt is paid in full.

Chin up today, Jen! Remember all of the people you've helped along the way. THEY COUNT!