We are bankrupt.  Never a sentence anyone wants to say, and not one that many people are comfortable hearing.  We distance it from us by using the technical phrase “we filed a chapter seven bankruptcy” so it doesn’t sting so much.  Maybe then it’s not a part of our identity.  Maybe then we haven’t failed.  Is it a failure though?  We still struggle with that idea.  Sometimes we’re more convinced that we haven’t failed than others.  “For the honest, but unfortunate debtor.”  That’s how the law actually describes bankruptcy.  It was that phrase that convinced us that we were not the dregs of society for admitting that we could not pay our debts.  We had made these debts like Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,”  “...link by link and yard by yard...” until, also like Marley, we labored under the weight of heavy chains. 

The cause of the habits that led to this predicament is deeper than it would seem.  Frightful depression and anxiety, a pervasive sense of hopelessness and lack of control lead down a winding path into a cycle of spending, guilt and desperation that repeats interminably.  It was only when we admitted that we couldn’t climb out alone that we were able to overcome our own distaste for the bankruptcy that was so intensely necessary.  It was humbling and painful to decide that we needed to file bankruptcy, but there was also a sense of relief.  The gift of forgiveness testifies of the atonement of the Son of God even when that forgiveness comes from the law and its representatives.

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We still feel the pangs of unease from time to time when we talk about our bankruptcy, but the gratitude outweighs it, as does the understanding we have received from those in whom we’ve confided.  The truth is that people love us enough not to see us as bankrupt.  Our value isn’t diminished.  

Taking shame out of pain. This perfectly describes how this project helped me. I hadn't told many people about the bankruptcy. I felt ashamed. In my mind it was my fault. I had been in charge of the finances. But then I met Jessica, I felt at ease and opened up about our bankruptcy. Participating in her project truly helped me begin to forgive myself and realize my story could help others.