I had a fantasy yesterday morning. I thought there was a chance it could make sense. It involved buying a house here in Chicago. It made sense enough in my mind that I looked around on some real estate websites. I found a place I felt ready to launch into. I even decided where I would put the couch.
Then I talked to someone who I knew would have no problem bursting my bubble if the idea didn’t make sense.
Five minutes later, it was clear that it didn’t make sense. Because ultimately, even if things fell into place guaranteeing our presence in Chicago for 3 more years, that’s still not long enough to make buying a house worth it–we’d still just be paying off interest on our mortgage at that point!
It was like a sugar crash in my spirit.
Our lease is up for renewal soon. And we’ve enjoyed our apartment so much for the past almost 2 years–it’s the best apartment we’d ever lived in. But with a toddler, and dreams of another baby someday, I’ve been thinking of how luxurious a house with a finished basement would be–a space for Alice to run around like a wild thing when the long Chicago winters keep us inside for months. And a yard. I thought for so many years that I would never want a yard. I’m not interested in gardening, and owning a mower just sounds . . . well, like someone else’s life. But I didn’t realize that having a child who rejoices in the outdoors changes one’s desires. Bring on the mower!
And no downstairs neighbors with their parties . . . that would be nice too, which I especially think about in the middle of the night when our bedroom floor is vibrating with a strident bass line.
Undergrads . . . I was one, once.
And here’s the thing–nothing is wrong with these desires for a house of our own, as long as:
1) I’m patient
2) I’m thankful for what I have, rejoicing in all the blessings God has already given us
3) I hold loosely to these dreams, knowing that they may not be fulfilled on earth–but I have a heavenly hope! God is preparing a place for me, and that promise can give me the patience to wait beyond a lifetime.
The evening came, and I was lying on the couch in an emotional funk. Being patient seemed so hard. I’ve been patient for so many years already! I thought. And guys . . . I was just wallowing in sin. Not rejoicing in what I had, not trusting in God’s good provision and timing, not looking forward to the fulfillment of all our desires in heaven . . . it was, well, gross. Like a junk food binge that leaves you feeling nasty and bloated.
Thankfully the Spirit slapped me. A nice, quick “wake up!” kind of slap. Hey, he seemed to say, it’s time to do one of those corny “what are you thankful for” exercises. Go!
I snapped to attention. My husband and I started saying out loud what we were thankful for. Soon I was laughing . . . because there’s so much. My moody little grumpfest was revealed for what it was: utterly ridiculous.
I’m thankful for coffee. Good food and a nice kitchen to cook it in. Alice’s silky, blond hair. These new hair twisty thingies I’ve been using every day. The Bible. Alice’s endearing relationship with her blankie.
A time every morning to meet with God. Our comfy couch. Our car. Our church family. The fact that both our sets of parents are believers. Our nephews and their funny little selves. My enduring and amazing friendship with my sisters. Eggplant, that weird and delicious vegetable. Schreiber Park, where Alice has been swinging, sliding, and generally tearing it up. The fact that I can’t remember the last time we had to worry about money. Netflix. The internet. iTunes, which at one point didn’t exist. (can you believe it?)
Once we started naming things, we just kept going . . . and going. It was like a soul-purging, and it left me feeling cleansed and buoyant.
Guys, there’s so much to be thankful for. Letting our materialistic dreams consume our heart can be such a trap of unhappiness and joy-stealing. So today, say YES to joy!