My husband was recently offered a job at a faith-based non-profit in Washington, DC. It’s the job of his dreams: working on policy to help the word’s neediest rise from poverty. We are both thrilled with the opportunity.
I did not, however, enter into the moving process with such a glad and thankful heart.
At the time the offer was made, we lived in California, a full 3000 or so miles away from my husband’s dream job. So when I heard that his greatest life desire had been offered to him for the taking, my response was not what it should have been. Although I was happy for him, my thoughts turned not toward the good work he would be doing for the world’s poorest, or how my own work for those in need would be better served by living in the hub of American politics, but instead to the realization that, in order to make the move, we would have to sell our home.
Our California home was the first we owned. We purchased it as a “fixer-upper,” and we put years of thought, love, and sweat into “fixing” it to meet our specifications. I picked out every paint color, every light fixture, even agonized over door hinges. I told myself it was understandable to feel disappointment at leaving behind a labor of love, but I found myself saddened to the point of wanting my husband to refuse the job. After all, San Francisco has jobs, too. Why couldn’t he find his dream job there?
But the truth is, he couldn’t. His field of work is housed in the nation’s capitol, and to be part of that work—and part of following God’s call to serve the poorest among us—we had to be there. Three thousand miles and several time zones from the four walls we first called home. And honestly, the move would better serve my own vocational goals of impacting policy related to women, children, and the impoverished. It was a win-win situation in many ways. My worldly ties, however, muddied my thinking. Instead of feeling joy that we would be able to serve more people in more ways—thus following the teachings of Jesus and lifting the burdens on our hearts to help others—I felt angry that I would have to give up my treasure: my home.
I laid awake nights, crying about losing the kitchen cabinets we had built to the exact dimensions needed to hold my widest serving dish and extra-tall blender. The homemade curtains in my daughter’s room that would be useless in another home. The attic we had planned to turn into a master suite. I begged God to hand my husband another job offer—this time a local one—on a silver platter, preferably one that would fit into my custom cabinets.
Somewhere in the midst of feeling sorry for myself, I began to realize just what it was I was asking God to do: to convince my husband to give up on a job that could lift millions—millions!—out of poverty, while also allowing me to better serve needy women and children. Why? So that I could keep my comforts, my material belongings, my beloved square footage.
In that moment of realization, it could not have been clearer where my heart’s treasure was. It was in California, residing selfishly in about 3000 square feet of living space.
That is not the person I want to be, and on most days, I don’t think it’s the person I really am. But knowing what’s important in life and then acting on that knowledge, especially when it’s uncomfortable and requires sacrifice, is hard. I’m not often faced with situations where I have to be so uncomfortable. It’s one thing to take a sick friend a meal on a day that I’m already overwhelmed. It’s another to sell a home and pack up and move cross-country with three children, a dog, and no friends, family, or community to welcome you.
But sometimes that’s exactly what God requires: giving up our worldly treasures so that we can build our true stores in Heaven by acting as here-and-now agents of His great love, and going where He needs us, instead of where we (think we) need to be. It might not be easy, but then again, who ever said it would be?