For a few years, I worked for one of the largest payday loan companies in the United States.
I was always ashamed to tell people about my job. Yes, large payday loan company, I found myself saying. Yes, in their marketing department. Yes, I actively used my God-given talents to get people who could not afford small, basic bills to go into debt in order to have those things.
I always felt obligated to explain myself — that it was a good job, even though it was for a bad company, that it was only temporary, and that as soon as my husband could graduate and find a job, I would be gone. I never brought up myself and tried to avoid the subject whenever possible.
If someone asked me what I did, I’d just mumble “social media” and leave it at that, hoping they wouldn’t ask where.
Church people especially would give me a strange look when I told them where I was working.
Often, they volunteered their time to serve the same people who were being eaten alive by the impossibly high interest rates and “easy money” fixes my company was providing.
When I told the founder of a local charity where I was employed, she glared at me. I was unfriended by her on Facebook the next day.
At the Christian college I had attended, I made a promise and a vow upon graduation to always serve others with my experience and education. Was I doing the exact opposite, or was I just feeding my family?
I felt bombarded by Bible verses in my personal devotions.
I would read the chapter where Jesus tells Matthew, the unscrupulous tax collector, to follow him and become a disciple. Easily, willfully – he did. He gave up everything to follow him. Was I wrong for not doing the same?
Or, was I being responsible?
Now, everything has come to pass.
My husband has a job and I am staying at home with my new baby and preschooler. I never quit my job until my kids had something to fall back on, even when I wanted to many, many times.
In retrospect, I honestly believe that God put me there for a reason. Even if the business wasn’t something I believed in, I’ve realized how my job put me in a unique position to offer advice and help to others before they turned to payday loans.
Sure, this job was a stepping stone. Thanks to the job, I could feed my family. But I truly believe it was more than that. I’m not simply rationalizing my decision. I’m not talking about just money, insurance, or experience.
It gave me a passion.
My job gave me a passion to make sure people don’t wind up in the position that they need payday loan products in the first place, a passion to fight for the poor.
Before I took this job, I really had no idea how many people can’t even make it until their next paycheck to get groceries, or how many people can’t afford basic medical costs when it’s unexpected. If we all really looked out for each other, and helped the poor, and shared our resources, no one would have to turn to payday loan companies in the first place.
If I just looked out for one person, then that one person wouldn’t have to turn to payday loan companies in the first place.
It was easy for me to justify my place of employment when I started working there.
But it’s a lot harder for me to justify it now, with all the knowledge that job has given me. I don’t know if I did the wrong thing for working there as long as I did. But I know that now I cannot just sit back idly while people out there need my help.
After everything I’ve seen, and everything I’ve learned, I could sit here and demand that you go help the people in need around you. But the truth is that it starts with me, my experiences, and my God-given passion.
He gave that to me. It’s my job now.
I like this job better than any I’ve ever had.
[photo: hermetic hermit , Creative Commons]