I am currently in the middle of moving to a new house. Our previous house was 53 years old and needed some updating. The new house, only a few miles away from the old one, is 18 years old with more space and nicer amenities. Most people would be excited about that; however, my response, much to my surprise, has contained more sadness and fear than it has excitement.
We lived in our old house for 10 years. It was a good house for my family of four. My kids went through their junior high and high school years in that house. My family and I have lots of fond memories associated with it. What is funny is I cannot give you one big, overarching reason for why we are moving. It’s really the sum of several small reasons and all of those reasons wants — not needs.
And then there is my response … I was sad and scared about buying a nicer house. The sad makes sense to me. We are closing a chapter in our lives that has been rich and good. I have grown enough to allow myself to grieve this kind of loss in my life. It is the scared part that caught me off guard.
The fear has nothing to do with the financial part of the endeavor. The new house is more expensive, but still within our means. The fear isn’t even about the unknown. We are only moving a few miles away. We still have the same jobs, live in the same town, and go to the same church. Very little is changing about the way we live. The fear is really about me making a bad decision. Leading up to the move and during the move I have been talking to myself: “Why are we doing this? We don’t really need this house. The house we have has worked for us for 10 years. It can still work for us.”
So I brought this fear up to my Tuesday morning men’s group. I was authentic and transparent about it. They helped me process it. One of the men asked, “Do you think you don’t deserve the new house? Is it possible you are scared that you are not worth it?” Those were great questions. I had to think about it, but issues of feeling like not deserving it and not being worth it didn’t seem to be at the root of it.
That same morning my chest started hurting during our meeting. I wasn’t concerned about the pain being my heart or any serious health issue. It felt more like gas or indigestion. The chest pain got to be too uncomfortable for me to stay seated in group. I even started feeling nauseous. There was a vending machine close by and I thought maybe the carbonation of a soft drink might help. I put money in the machine for a drink and selected the button for a Sprite and two Sprites came out.
Most of the time, getting two Sprites for the price of one is not a big deal. In this case it was a big deal to me. Here is why: Each week in our group we take time to listen to God. After we check in, we spend time in silence and pay attention to what comes to mind. I took my two Sprites back to group in time for the portion of time where we listen to God. During that time I believe God was telling me something: “It’s alright to have two Sprites.” Through that vending machine moment, I believe God was telling me: “It’s alright to have a nicer house.” I didn’t need two Sprites like I didn’t need a nicer house, but the second Sprite was a gift. God was encouraging me to accept the idea of living in a nicer house.
This may sound really cheesy to you. To me it was one of those unexpectedly profound God moments. As I processed this with my group I began to realize that the fear I was feeling was really a fear of being judged by others. I have taken pride in living in a modest home and driving a modest car. I was afraid that people would see me as greedy or self-centered. There was a part of me that felt selfish for getting a house that I wanted (vs. needed).
There is still more work for me to do in this area, but I am thankful I have a group of men who can help with that. So we are moving to a nicer house, and I am ok with that because God gave me two Sprites that morning.
By Barry Thomas
Barry is Chairman of the Board for The Crucible Project. He has been a catalyst in bringing and growing our ministry throughout Texas. He is a senior operations engineer for Concho Resources in Midland, Texas. Prior to that, he served in ministry for 13 years at churches in Oklahoma City, Chicago and Midland. Barry holds a master’s of divinity from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn. He also holds bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Colorado School of Mines. Barry completed his initial Crucible weekend in August, 2005.
Photo Credit: Judhi Praseyto via Creative Commons