Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Home sweet home

I've joked before that I must have some amount of gypsy blood coursing in my veins, alluding to that innate gypsy-like desire to pack up and move on, never staying long in one spot, viewing any current dwelling place as only temporary, always an eye out for the next location to pitch my tent.

Case in point: I've lived here at this address longer than I have lived at any other address in my entire life. Eight long years, my record. My family moved several times during my growing up years, and if I'm not mistaken, the first five Christmas trees of my husband's and my married life were put up in five different homes. Each of our four babies came home from the hospital to a different house.

Transients, I tell you. Gypsies. Experts at packing up and moving on.

I will admit to you that my inner gypsy is at times quite restless, particularly as I consider all the things I do not like about my current home. For instance, we have too little storage (and correspondingly too much stuff). I hate how there is a direct line of sight from my front door straight to my kitchen sink (and the corresponding pile of dirty dishes). I wish for a mud room and a coat closet and some built in bookshelves, not to mention a study and a bedroom for each of the boys...

Today I perused house plans on the internet wasting time just for fun, you know. I have to tell you, the fun diminished somewhat as my dissatisfaction grew.

I recalled something I read recently in a magazine interview with a Christian novelist: If you want to be radical for Christ in the suburbs, tell your neighbors, "I'm going to be content with my house and stay in this neighborhood until the day I die." That's a crazy thought in our upwardly mobile culture.

While I do not necessarily agree with everything this novelist has written, this quote has echoed in my mind. Isn't it crazy that contentment would be considered radical? Yet how true it is. Bigger and better, more and much, have become not only our privilege, but our right and our entitlement. I don't just want a mud room, I need it and maybe I even deserve it.

We are in fact an upwardly mobile culture, making sure we have the very most we can afford, and then some.

I have some friends in the process of purchasing their first home. Like the rest of us, they had a list of amenities important to them in their search. Yet unlike many of us, their priorities centered around the ministry they could do in and through their home. They do not view their home as a source of status, but a vehicle for ministry.

The Bible tells us that "From one man he made very nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they shoud live." (Acts 17:26) Could it be that, mud room or no, God has placed me and my family here, in this place, in this neighborhood, to achieve His purposes? That living here at this address is part of His divine plan and sovereign design? That where I live is not so much about square footage and number of bedrooms, but about ministering in His name and for His glory?

As I write, I must confess: I am a terrible neighbor. While there is one family that we have contact with and much opportunity to minister to, and for whom I pray diligently, on the whole I do not know my neighbors and have not taken the time to reach out and be a good neighbor.

May I view my home as not mine, but God's. May I see His purpose in placing us here, in this place, for this time, making the most of every opportunity to minister to those around us. May I refuse to indulge the gypsy within and instead choose the great gain of godliness with radical contentment.

9 comments:

  1. We are considering a lot of what you've expressed in this post. Our motives are important for everything we do, even when it comes to home-buying. We love to have people over to our home, but we just don't have the space anymore since we've added four children to our family. However, we love our neighborhood. We have great neighbors and I don't want to leave them! Isn't that weird? We've been here for almost 9 years! I would hate to move, but at the same time, I want to be able to open our home more to visitors and fellowships. Maybe I should just do it anyway--regardless of how cramped it is.

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  2. This post rang true with me. We have decided, for no such noble reasons, that we will be in this home for the next twenty years. Our home is big enough. More than so. It needs repairs and has lots of issues but it meets all of our needs. That is enough. It is more than enough, it is an abundant blessing. I actually have more than I need. It says little about our society or my heart that I should have to pray and fight so hard to regularly to keep it feeling that way.

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  3. We just went through this. We spent a year house hunting and even made two offers. By the grace of God, we didn't buy another house. We have instead decided to purge. If we had purchased a bigger house, we would have just filled it up too. Getting rid of all this stuff is LIBERATING. Every giant bag of trash is a triumph. Every trip to the thrift store is more weight off my back. Every box I ship after an ebay auction is a sigh of relief. My time is fragmented, so I do as much as a I can, whenever I get a few minutes. Whenever I consider buying something and bringing it into my house, I think about whether I want it enough to dust it, wash it, dry it, store it or even look at it for the rest of my life. Then I usually put it back on the shelf. LIBERATING. (ok, I still buy books.) Our house is big enough, we just have WAY too much "stuff" in here with us. I'm finding as I clear my house, I clear my head. We are so blessed. We live in an average suburb, but our house backs up to a conservation area and a river. In the winter, the deer visit our back yard every night! Our house payment is such that my income is supplemental. If we had moved, I would be working full time and our house would own us, not the other way around. We need a new kitchen floor and my front door also lines up with my kitchen sink. But if I take the time to remember, the dirty dishes signify we've all had enough to eat. And the creaking of the house late at night reminds me that it is so quiet because everyone is sleeping soundly. Lisa, you've inspired an upcoming blog. I can feel it. Thanks. Merry Christmas.

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  4. We moved every three or four years when I was a child. I went to two different high schools. I've been in this particular geographical area for twelve years, although this is the second house in this area.

    I don't think I'm a good neighbour, either, and I have LOTS of ideas about how I'd like to expand my house. I love my house, and I have decent storage, but my big beef is that we don't have a good front entrance or back entrance, so I would like my husband to build me a screened in porch. But we have kids getting into university, so I doubt that's happening any time soon.

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  5. This is a timely post for me and I appreciate your thoughts expressed. I've been going on and on about demolishing this place and rebuilding it but just in the last few days thinking that I should change my thinking...
    Blessings on you as you consider contentment in your life...

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  6. This is a great post, Lisa. I often think how different and unneighborly things are in even just one generation from when I grew up. All the neighbors visited and coffee'd and knew each other well. Now, even in my own neighborhood, I might know most to see them and wave hello, but I can' say I know my neighbors very well.

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  7. Lisa,
    I have struggled with many of these same thoughts. And I too want my home to be used to serve Him rather than to serve me. I also struggle with wanting my home to be a refuge (especially for my husband as a Pastor) from others since we serve people all the time, therefore I seem not to get involved with my neighbors for this reason. I am not sure if this is good or not.

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  8. Lisa,
    I have struggled with many of these same thoughts. And I too want my home to be used to serve Him rather than to serve me. I also struggle with wanting my home to be a refuge (especially for my husband as a Pastor) from others since we serve people all the time, therefore I seem not to get involved with my neighbors for this reason. I am not sure if this is good or not.

    ReplyDelete
  9. We just went through this. We spent a year house hunting and even made two offers. By the grace of God, we didn't buy another house. We have instead decided to purge. If we had purchased a bigger house, we would have just filled it up too. Getting rid of all this stuff is LIBERATING. Every giant bag of trash is a triumph. Every trip to the thrift store is more weight off my back. Every box I ship after an ebay auction is a sigh of relief. My time is fragmented, so I do as much as a I can, whenever I get a few minutes. Whenever I consider buying something and bringing it into my house, I think about whether I want it enough to dust it, wash it, dry it, store it or even look at it for the rest of my life. Then I usually put it back on the shelf. LIBERATING. (ok, I still buy books.) Our house is big enough, we just have WAY too much "stuff" in here with us. I'm finding as I clear my house, I clear my head. We are so blessed. We live in an average suburb, but our house backs up to a conservation area and a river. In the winter, the deer visit our back yard every night! Our house payment is such that my income is supplemental. If we had moved, I would be working full time and our house would own us, not the other way around. We need a new kitchen floor and my front door also lines up with my kitchen sink. But if I take the time to remember, the dirty dishes signify we've all had enough to eat. And the creaking of the house late at night reminds me that it is so quiet because everyone is sleeping soundly. Lisa, you've inspired an upcoming blog. I can feel it. Thanks. Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete