Foreclosures are sad and dramatic; they can also be a turning point.
There is a difference between willfully and maliciously failing to keep one’s end of a contract and suddenly facing new circumstances that turn everything upside down. Whether it is due to loss of income, sudden health expenses or even the consequences of initially poor judgment, the inability to sustain one’s lifestyle is not necessarily a reflection of quality of character or an indication of failure, anymore than the tree the wind pushes to the breaking point means failure on the part of its owner.
Dignity is not about how much money is in the bank account and it has little to do with the size of one’s mortgage or the ability to sustain it consistently. There may be an illusion of lack of dignity when these things are lost, but it is just that, an illusion, often due, regrettably, to poor self-esteem, the opinions of others and the focus of media stories.
Homeowners who “lose it all” may have had plans that appeared sound at first, but did not withstand the test of time and changing circumstances. Every time we think that an individual or family is less than whole because the bank suddenly owns their house, we might ask (at least internally), “How would I deal with this situation? Would I be able to keep my chin up and pick up the pieces or would I crumble?” Dignity, it turns out, is the foundation that keeps us standing whenever the world around us crumbles.
A house in foreclosure is a great opportunity for buyers, but it is the former owner who will learn the most and perhaps become a stronger person for the test. This does not diminish the buyer in any way. It is simply a hidden truth about the unfortunate former owner; a truth that rarely comes to mind for bystanders who have not had that experience or do not know the actual details.
Homeowners who lose their home to foreclosure, or any other circumstance, must learn to navigate new waters. In doing so, they learn new strategies and develop a fresh perspective toward the future, and toward the past. They become teachers of life, advisors to neighbors and mentors to their children. They become the case studies that draw our attentions to financial practices and lead to change.
Change, it turns out, rarely occurs out of stability; it can only arise from events that capture our attention and require us to rethink everything.