Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Hearty Slap In The Face

Often you encounter challenges in life that force you to face a hard truth about yourself.  No one particularly seems to enjoy the slap-in-the-face process of being shown that you kind of suck. You have two options, you either:
1) run from it by denial, blaming others, or ignoring it
2) you are humbled by the realization and set about enacting change in your life.

This past week was one of those times for me. I was forced to realize that I am pretty insecure, vain, and just don't trust God will provide for me.

The program that husband is a part of provides housing during the residency year. It is a huge blessing to live here amongst the other residents, and made the move easier since we didn't need to find housing. Ultimately, we have decided that after this year, we would like to move to a place that is larger so that we can grow into it, and preferably a place with a larger kitchen. Jon and I began rental house hunting maybe 2 months ago. One thing we learned was that in Memphis, the market is much faster than any other place we have lived. You can really only look a month or 2 out before you want to move, rather than 6-8 months out. Being a planner, I was getting antsy, knowing I had to wait so long to look. Then our landlady for the current apartment said that it would help her out if we moved earlier than June, since since there are so many apartments to turn over before next year's residents come. Hooray!

We saw a few places, both to rent and to buy, not being crazy about any of them. Then last week, we thought we had found the perfect place and set up an appointment to view it at 4pm on Friday. Sadly, someone else thought it was perfect, too, and rented it before we could go see it. I immediately became quite upset over losing a house that I had never even seen. My initial reaction surprised me. "It sounded so nice, and the pictures made it seem like a dream! It had stained concrete floors and plantation shutters on all the windows instead of plastic mini-blinds, I really need that! We could have really impressed our family and friends with this place and be the ones with the cool house!" Wait... really? Is that what I really care about? Maybe it is just a fluke, I'll ignore that and pretend that everything is fine. We had another appointment on Friday to see another prospect, after all.

This other one was way bigger and had the most amazing kitchen of my dreams. I saw this picture and was already drooling. When we saw it, we felt that it was even better than the pictures and was a wonderful deal. We had to live there, and the landlord said it would be ready April 1.

Jon then spoke with the program director of MTR, and he asked that we not move out before May 1. We had agreed to live in community here for the residency year, but moving out May 1 would still help the landlady. April 1 was too soon. Uhoh. We set up an appointment to talk on Sunday at 5:30pm.

My heart began to race and my mind was drifting again. "Would the landlord of this new dream house let us move in a month later? I HAVE to have that house, or all would be lost! It has double ovens and a prep sink! It has so much space! I don't want to look on craigslist anymore! We could have the coolest house ever and everyone would think we are awesome and if we don't get it then nothing else will be as awesome!" Oh. Those thoughts again. Really, that's what I think? Ouch.

This process again revealed some serious sin issues. I realized that I actually thought that I had to have an impressive home that people would be jealous of, and if we didn't get it, then God surely wouldn't provide something else as nice, if at all. Those lies smacked me in the face, hard. Even though I knew in my heart that this was not true, my mind kept drifting to these lies. Every spare moment, I started to worry and become anxious about asking the landlord to move a month later.

It was then that I decided that I really needed to confront this sin. I was getting so worked up over these lies in my head. I had to arrest my brain, take it captive from itself, and redirect my thoughts. Every time I wanted to dwell on the situation, I had to say "STOP it" aloud and then pray. I had to replace the lies with Scripture and truth.

The Lord promises to provide, and commands us not to worry over and over in the Bible. Here are just a few examples. I needed to turn "where will we live, and will it be good enough?" to something more reassuring:
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Hebrews 13:5
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? - Matthew 6:26
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. - Philippians 4:6
Sunday came, and finally I was able to really confront the worries as lies that rob joy, put my trust in God who has never yet failed me, and be at peace with whatever the outcome. The truth is that I don't need a nice big house in my own timing. I need God's grace. I could end up in a cardboard box and His grace would still be sufficient. Then 5:30 came and we asked the landlord if we could still have the place, given the changed date. He agreed, and I did the biggest happy dance ever. Not because I got what I wanted and was pleased to have this big cool new house, but because God is so good, and I was excited to feel free from the worries that had entrapped me.

In the end, I was glad that there was that time before receiving an answer to have to squirm and wrestle with my miserable heart. I would not have faced these things otherwise, let alone ever admit to anyone that I so badly wanted them to be impressed with my kitchen. I was too vain and too ignorant of my own issues to notice, or was just running from them.  My hope and prayer is to be able to use this big new place to really be able to bless those around us. We want to use it to feed people, grow community, host gatherings, and praise God in every way that we can. It's not about people thinking that me or my home are awesome, it's about people seeing that God is awesome.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. - James 1:17
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. - 1 Peter 4:10

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