I’m sitting in my bedroom right now. I have an armchair in the corner of the room. Lots of windows. It’s evening and the light is coming in at a perfect slant. It’s the time of day when everything glows. The walls in my room are painted a peachy-apricot color that is designed to pick up the sunlight and reflect back the color of warmth and coziness and life. I love my bedroom. My husband remodeled it for my 40th birthday. It is a haven in my not-so-remodeled house.
Today is a sort of home-coming to my room. Our summer-long houseguests just departed yesterday. We gave up our bedroom for them and have been camping out in our kids’ bedrooms all summer. I am finally back in my own space.
This summer has been an enlightening experience.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is just how entitled and privileged I am. It has been disconcerting to not have my own private space. In fact, it has been pretty irritating. In fact, at times it felt like I was going to go crazy. One night I was lying in bed. Silently steaming. Here I was, lying on a mattress on the floor in my boy’s bedroom. Kids sleeping all around me. I felt suffocated from the lack of privacy. And then, I had a thought, which I think was from the Holy Spirit…What about all the families living in refugee camps right now? And then, after a bit more thought…What about almost all the other countries in the world? I would say that parents having their own bedroom is something that only happens in the wealthiest percentage of the world. Everyone else shares whatever space they have. Having my own private space for me and my husband is in fact, not a human right. It’s a privilege. A byproduct of living in a wealthy country and making enough money to live in a big house.
It’s kind of humbling to realize that the things I consider basic rights, basic human comforts, are actually just a cultural thing. In our culture we have an expectation that a married couple will have their own space, their own bedroom. We are used to this set up. It feels healthy. It feels right. And when we don’t get it, everything feels really wrong.
I am currently reading a book called Extravagant Grace by Barbara Duguid. It is an amazing book about the Christian walk, basically a modern day interpretation of the writings of John Newton (of Amazing Grace fame). There is a quote that really struck me. It is speaking of John Newton and says:
“He also believed that the richest fruit of God’s work in our hearts would be evidenced by increasing humility and dependance on Christ for everything rather than in a ‘victorious Christian life.’”
Think about that for a minute. The evidence of our growing in maturity in our walk with God is not that we become more perfect and amazing, but rather that we become more humble and more reliant on God.
Part of our becoming humble is coming face to face with our sin, uncovering it layer by layer. And as we uncover it, we bring it to God and lean on his power to repent and turn away.
This summer I had a mirror held up to my face. Wow. I really become unpleasant when my creature comforts are taken away.
I have this image in my mind of what my life should look like. I would hope that I would pattern that image off of what the Bible says my life should look like, but instead I’ve patterned it off of what my culture tells me is expected. Expectation: I should always have enough money to get everything I need and at least a handful of extra things I just want. Expectation: I should live in good health. Expectation: I should have my own space and my own stuff and strong boundaries to keep people out of that space and that stuff. Expectation: My life should be worry free with no hardships or trials.
No wonder the Christian walk can be so difficult for us Americans. Jesus said to take up your cross and follow him. He said, in this world we would have trouble, but to take heart because he has overcome the world. The stories of the early apostles and the early church are not about people living comfortable easy lives. But, they are about people living in complete dependance on God and trusting that the end reward is worth all the suffering here on earth. And of course, the most amazing part is, Jesus also said he would never leave us or forsake us. As we go through hardships and troubles here on earth, he is with us the entire time.
And for me, part of my walk is seeing that what I see as hardship, really isn’t. I actually have some pretty spoiled ideas about what my life should look like. And I say, I’m sorry Lord. I’m actually really selfish. And God is gracious. He gave me back my room. But now I can see it a little better for what it is…A gift. Not a right. And my pleasure is a bit richer and I try harder to keep this gift in an open palm, ready to share, ready to release it whenever I’m called to.
(Though I’m secretly hoping I won’t be called to do so again for a really long time.)