Small confessions of a rich woman
Originally published on August 12, 2009
My husband and I are coming up on eleven years of marriage. Over eleven years, we have seen our share of changes, to our lifestyle, to ourselves and to our relationships. On the eve of this anniversary I have been mulling over in my mind how over the past year or so how God has altered our view of where and how we want to live.
When we first married we lived in a 500 (or so) square foot apartment. It was close to the university, close to a quick route to my husband’s job and in a beautiful older neighbourhood. We loved it (a lot!) and never really thought of having more or bigger (although hauling groceries from the car was a bit of a pain living on the tenth floor). After a year and a half we purchased our first home, thinking ourselves financially responsible to start stocking away equity. It was a bright, airy and functional 1400 square foot two story. Although our years there passed quickly, due to full time school and almost full time work, it was where we first started to itch for more. We started to look at show homes for bigger and fancier, thinking our self worth equal to our belongings. We were young, went to a church with lots of wealthy people and although not overtly admitted, though we could prove ourselves by acumilating lots of expensive things. When we moved once again, to a different city, we got a slightly larger and slightly fancier house. Two years later and yet another city and another slightly bigger and slightly fancier house.
Four years later and we are still in that house. Not very long ago, I even wanted bigger and fancier. Not for God`s plan or glory but for my own selfish one. About a year and a half ago I read ‘Irresistible Revolution’ by Shane Claiborne. I wish I could say that it was the bible, or preaching in a church or other Christian friends that first convicted me about how God feels about money and things, but instead it was reading that book. My husband then read `Jesus for President` and for the first time we thought about how our fiscal plan may be totally contradictory to God’s, tithing or not tithing aside. We talked a lot about what we felt God was asking us to do and how what we thought he was asking us to do looked like it really, really sucked. (Sell all we have, give it to the poor, ummm…) We stopped buying a lot of new things, but otherwise took little action. I was convicted that God taught strongly against wealth (Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24; “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21; “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Matthew 6:24) but was still very, very attached to our home and other things, for many sinful, selfish reasons. At that point I was not finding this process at all joyful, only sacrificial. Although I could argue I am not rich here in Canada, but very decidedly middle class, in the terms of the world, I am certainly very wealthy and this put me in a very uncomfortable position.
Fast forward about a year. We went on vacation and stayed for two weeks in a small condo. (I know what a rich person luxury, trust me the irony is not wasted.) Both my husband and I were so refreshed at having so very little to take care of. I did not miss any of our belongings. Again, we have just had the lovely experience of camping for several weeks on Vancouver Island. We have a small trailer that we take camping. This time, my husband and I talked about how we both felt freed at how we can better spend our time and energy when we have less stuff to take care of.
These vacations were such a blessing because God really used them to show me something I hadn’t even considered when first reading all this God and money stuff – one reason God cautions so strongly about money and things is because being bogged down by them is not how He wants us to spend our resources. To have a bigger and fancier house means we need to spend more – more time maintaining, cleaning, organizing and more money heating, paying the mortgage and taxes. More of my husbands time working to pay for these things. More time away from the relationships God intended for us to have with Him and our neighbours. More time and money… wasted. I don`t want to waste any more of what God has blessed me with. I want to use it to glorify Him. I don`t want to be too trapped by my possessions to really discover what amazing plans God has for me. When I say this is so freeing from how I used to feel about accumulating more, I don’t know how to say it strongly enough, but boy do I feel free!
So, we aren`t moving – yet – and honestly I don`t know if that is what God wants us to do right this minute. But I just am so thankful how God has showed me He intends for us to be free in this matter – not deprived or legalistic and how he has been so faithful to changing my heart on this matter. I love how He has shown me that it isn`t just about what we have – but that if we aren`t using it to God`s glory then it is wasted, whether we are poor or rich. I don`t want to selfishly hog God`s blessings anymore and try and accumulate them for my own glory. That’s all meaningless anyway. I want to be free to live a joyful, giving life, being obedient and bringing glory to God and putting my investments where they really matter – in God’s eternal kingdom.