A couple months ago Ike and I realized that we’re probably going to be in the Chicago area for awhile, so we began to pray about buying our first house. Since then, we have visited a lot of condos and townhouses, run the numbers and talked through what we can/should buy.
The whole process has been an eye-opening experience for me. Before this journey began, when I looked at houses I would see them in terms of personal preference; now I just see dollar signs. And in some ways that change of perspective is symbolic of the temptations this process holds. Houses easily become status symbols since other home-buyers have a fairly good idea of what you spent. And while I never thought I would be affected by that dynamic, I have noticed a subtle pressure to stretch our money as far as it can possibly go.
As I have examined my heart in all of this, I have noticed some old idols from the past that I thought I’d left behind. In particular, it’s striking to me how similar home-buying is to dating. Inherent in both is the temptation to get carried away by my imagination about the future. And as a result of this day-dreaming and planning, my heart slowly wraps itself around those future plans and begins to depend on them for joy and satisfaction. In the past, I drew confidence and security from my relationship status and the future I thought it would provide me. Today, I am tempted to draw similar confidence and security from owning a beautiful home, especially one that others would envy.
It’s kind of funny to me that these two completely separate pursuits are fraught with the same temptations. But it should not be surprising. That is the nature of any “pursuit” that requires such time and personal investment. When you pour yourself, your future and your schedule into any one person or activity, it’s easy to lose your point of reference. The thing you would “like” morphs into something you “need” and then something you “can’t live without.” And when this happens, your initially well-intentioned pursuit succumbs to blatant idolatry.
So whether you are currently in the process of dating, buying a home, designing the perfect nursery or picking a school for your kids, be aware of the pitfalls inherent in these pursuits. As John Calvin once said, our hearts are like “idol factories” that constantly search after something other than God for security, confidence, peace and joy. So check your heart and be honest about your motives. What is driving you? What is your source of refuge and hope? Is there any part of your pursuit that is driven by a desire to make others jealous? Are you spending your time and money in a way that still enables you to be generous to God and others? And most importantly, if you fail to obtain the object of your pursuit, is Christ still enough for you? I’ve had to continually ask myself those questions throughout this process, and I suspect I will continue to the rest of my life.
What an apt and interesting observation. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and heart about this. I’ll be thinking this post over for a while.
Why do you think you will be there awhile? A house is a big commitment, maybe you should by a house where I am first just to try it out.
hahaha! oh Emily….
To answer your question, it turns out these doctorates kind of take awhile! go figure! 🙂
Thanks for the feedback, Kari!
Girl, I feel you!
My husband and I just went home shopping for the first time (we are currently under contract with a home and will be closing soon, yay!). During the process we visited the house our friends just bought it and it was like being stabbed in the heart, lol. That sounds dramatic…but it was hard. We both felt like any hose we could afford could never compare and we were jealous. We did a lot of praying and apologizing to our friends. And now I’m happy with the home that God has blessed us with.
Our hearts are indeed idol factories.
You’ve made some great points in your recent post. I struggle in my life with friendships, pouring so much into them that I feel my life teeters on the brink of meltdown if a relationship hits a bump in the road. I realize more and more that in relying on friendships for confidence I diminish God from His primary role in my life.
The need to have a home, nursery, job, marriage, etc. that creates envy in others is very commonplace. Inherent in jealousy is discontent with what God has given us. Instead of focusing on his provision we focus on what we don’t have. And as you said, getting confidence and security from anything other than God is sinful. We can take something meant for our good, a blessing from God, and make it become the wedge between us and God.
I commend you and your husband for being able to recognize the jealous feelings, take it to God in prayer, & apologize to your friends. Those actions definitely circumvent any ill the enemy tried to inject into your lives.
Maybe comparing dating to driving is more a guy thing than a girl thing, but here goes…
The dynamics of socio-sexual pairing (dating, or whatever) is like that of driving in a busy city. First I thought of the term ‘defensive driving’. Then I thought of what human relationships are based on: on caring thought, not on naiveley carefree ‘trust’. Even in actual traffic, referring to good driving as ‘defensive driving’ is only half right, at best. There are other people in all those other cars. Only if all the other cars on the road were unoccupied (and driving themselves) would it be fair to call it ‘defensive’ driving.
Of course, in most places, at least a few basic ‘rules of the road’ are observed. But, even then, those rules do not mechanically prevent people from driving carelessly, nor prevent anyone from driving who have no idea what any of the rules are, or who have had no practice operating a car at speed.
We all are dying even while we live, and the Earth itself is no garden of Eden, so every bit of the world is in disharmony with every other bit of it. It may be too hot for me, and too cold for you, but everyone needs to know that they are free to get some fair relief. So, nothing which is good at the start can automatically stay good.
Only in an unfallen world would young people never come up short for simply acting on their God-given instinct to socio-sexual pairing. It is natural to enjoy simply driving toward a destination without a care. But, the only civil, noble, way to drive, in traffic, with pedestrians present, and with homes sitting on the inside curves, is to be careful to avoid putting others at risk while we try get where we wish to be.