This week I found myself smack dab between two disparate worlds: the me that I was, and the me that I’m going to be. Apparently the me that I’m going to be has more money. This is disturbing to the me I was.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to say.
I asked myself some hard questions. Was I ever “meant” to be a wife and mother? The fact that I suck at both makes this question compelling. Did my lack of trust when I believed God didn’t want to share me, and wouldn’t allow me to have a husband and kids drive me to the sexual sin that I found myself entangled in? Did I miss what God had for me? The freedom to live as an ascetic, in whatever kind of community I chose? Or was this a mind game of a spoiled brat who didn’t want to deal with reality? I had a husband and kids, who are not like me. They don’t want what I want spiritually. They don’t want to sell all they have and give it to the poor. They like a single family home, even though we rent. They like that they finally have nice clothes, and an X Box 360.
Ken brought up Bono. Not fair, because he knows I love Bono and want to have his children. He said, “Bono is rich. He hasn’t left his family, and he helps the poor. Maybe God wants you to open the house for prostitutes you want to help with the resources you’ll get from being a successful writer. Why don’t you see what God will do with you having something for a change?”
It occurred to me that God probably wouldn’t want me to leave my husband. The kids would hate “intentional community” and I’d make a big ol’ stinking mess of things if I went running after Shane Clairborn. But I was struck by how strong my desire was, and so my director and I examined it. She asked me a simple question: “Have you talked to God about this.”
No. Not really. I’d thrown a few thoughts in God’s general direction, but we hadn’t had a real pow-wow about it. So I finally said, “Jesus, will you please help me? Because I don’t know what to do with money. And I’m scared. I don’t want to be anything but what you want me to be.”
And then I cried some more. Amy said, “What did He say?” I heard Jesus as clear as an audible voice say His simple, one word answer.
“He said, ‘Yes,’” I told Amy. “Just one word.”
She cried, too. “I know,” she said. “I heard Him.”
Wasn’t that cool? We both really heard Jesus.
That night when I got home my sister asked me about my new big screen television. I don’t have a big screen television! Or an entire house full of new furniture that she heard I had. The family gossip had gone wild! I got very defensive. I had just purchased a sofa and a “Bedroom in a Box” from Walmart because my bedroom furniture has fallen apart, and there is a homicidal spring on my mattress intent on killing me and ripping all of my sleepwear to shreds. The Bedroom in a Box has a dresser, night table, headboard and mirror, all in one fun-filled box, but I felt guilty because I bought $200 bucks worth of furniture AND a sofa. I felt like I’d let the world and the poor down. Carlean told me that God wouldn’t begrudge me a bed when I’d spent years going without so much, but it was hard for me to accept that kind of grace.
I had to look at these feelings. It felt like my future was a bright shiny light, and my past a black hand from hell, holding onto my ankle. And there I was in the middle trying to decide what to do. I’ve given money away. I’ve helped people less fortunate. I’ve gotten my family clothes, and a few things they want. I’ve paid all my bills. Why is it so hard for me to be okay with that?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus said. That’s my life’s scripture. But what does it mean? Just when I think I know it seems to elude me, and I chase it’s truth again. I want to be blessed. I really do.
Meanwhile, I watch the joy a little money has brought us. The blessing of having the bills paid, and something in the savings account. The blessing of having paint for the walls. I’ve never been able to paint, but I’ve got a really cool landlord who is letting me fly my freak flag. Okay, so Ken vetoed the fuchsia, but he did let me go with real color! The hall is going to be “fragrant cloves”. It’s as pretty as it sounds. For the bathroom we got a serene pale green. Very Martha Steward. The kitchen will be a vibrant mustard color, and my bedroom a rich rosy, cinnamon. These warm, earthy hues will go so well with my African accents. And my icons! I’m guess I’m nesting—building a home for my soul to stave off the dark death in winter I experience every year. I’m grateful for the gift of color, and God’s grace that I earned the money to buy the paint.
Enough for now. Ken just pulled out the paintbrushes and we have to paint the hallway! I will be praising God with every stroke. Despite my confusion, His grace abounds. His love, like fragrant cloves paint, covers a multitude of sins.