Not very long ago, God gave me my dream house. It was a house in the perfect neighborhood and the perfect school district. It was a corner lot in a cove. It had all the little details that I always dreamed of having in a home. I remember walking in the house the day that we signed the papers and dreaming of all the things that our family would do together in our home. I pictured Avery walking down the stairs in her prom gown, Charlie practicing the drums in a converted attic space, and David and I growing old together in that house. Before we ever moved in, I prayed over each room and asked that God would take the gift He had given us and allow us to use it for His glory. It would be a home filled with love, prayer, laughter, and music. And I never wanted to move. Ever.
That’s why it seems totally crazy that just a few short years later, I can’t wait to leave it behind.
I guess I should explain myself, huh?
The last year and a half has been a year of refinement for me. A time where God has stripped away a lot of the things and relationships that I thought were really important in my life. Being refined can be really, truly painful. But this year and a half hasn’t only been about “stripping away”, God has given me things too. Awesome things that I always thought I wanted. Things that had a whole lot to do with what I thought my life should look like. Things on my super long “life check list”. My house was definitely way up high on that list.
Thinking back, I’m convinced that God gave me exactly what I asked for so that I would begin to realize how unsatisfying loving “stuff” is. It seemed that the longer we lived in our house, the tighter things became for us financially. Pipes started to burst, the roof started to leak, and our our beautiful house started to feel more like a prison than a palace. Financial stress is horrible. It’s suffocating. It steals the joy from your life. It’s not the way that I want to live – even if I do have a beautiful house.
I used to think that life was full of huge, important choices and that one wrong choice could change the course of your life forever. I don’t feel that way any more. I’ve come to realize that when you have a relationship with a good and gracious God, He can take even the worst choices and turn them around for His glory. God is such a loving Father. He never forces you to learn something. Instead, He patiently waits for you to have that “ah – ha” moment. He will allow you to have the things that you ask for (even if it’s not His perfect plan), and when you finally wake up and realize that you’ve made the wrong choice, He will take you by the hand and gently lead you to the right one.
Slowly, slowly, over the last year or so… through people, through books, through events, through loss and gain, God has been gently leading me.
In the book Kisses From Katie, Katie Davis said something that totally made sense to me. She said that she’d always read the scripture verse “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” and assumed that it meant that if she loved God that He would give her a great job, a great home, a great husband and family. Those were always the things that she desired. Just like every American girl. Then she went to Africa. And God changed the desires of her heart. Her desires weren’t things anymore – they were people. They were God’s glory. God’s will. Those were the things that she desired. And those are the things that he gave her. He gave her the desires of her heart.
For most of my life, I’ve been busy desiring approval, position, and possessions. My mouth says that I value God, family, giving, and living with freedom, but my life says that I value people’s perceptions, my house, and all my stuff more.
Like He did for Katie Davis, God is changing my desires. For the first time in a long time, I really, truly, desire His plan. Not mine.
After a lot of discussion and prayer, David and I believe that God is prompting us to get rid of all of our debt and to live below our means. That means doing something that most people will think is crazy. It means selling my beautiful house in the perfect neighborhood and moving back into an itty bitty house.
It also means that we will be able to do things we haven’t been able to do in three years. We will be able to travel when we want to. We will be able to give generously. We can plan for the future. Most importantly, we can finally dump all of the stress that living at the very edge of a paycheck has brought.
Ron Reynolds said, “Debt freedom is the one freedom that makes all other freedoms possible.” I’ve always believed it, but never lived like I did. I’m ready to change that.
Let’s start the next chapter.