An overview of our travels since the wedding:
Charleston-- Boone, NC
Princeton-- East Orange, NJ
East Orange-- Canterbury, England
England-- East Orange
East Orange-- Cincinnati
On august 4th we finally arrived in our new hometown of Dallas, TX. After a month of traveling, we were ready to get moved into our future house and get into a routine. August 5th was our scheduled move in day— we had set up a “work for rent” situation with a woman who lived in a really BIG house down here. We had agreed that Michael and I would work 15 hours a week, between the two of us, in exchange for rent.
Come move in day, we met with her at Starbucks first, at her request. She began by saying her “needs had changed” since we originally talked and she needed me to work 30 hours a week for her in addition to our 15 hours previously arranged. I felt so young trying to remind her of the fact that I needed to take a job that could provide benefits, and that I was already committed to working part time for another woman named Sara (who is amazing by the way, I’ll talk more about her later). She then suggested that I work for her and for Starbucks to get my benefits, and not work for Sara. That was when I realized I would actually have to argue with a grown up (gulp). I reminded her that I had already committed to work for Sara, at which point I basically felt like Elle Woods in the Harvard classroom.
She then said that if I couldn’t meet her needs and be available when she needed me, that she really couldn’t let us live in her house. She also said that she would most likely not be able to let us know in advance when she would need us to work (meaning we’d basically be on call 24/7) and she couldn’t give us any kind of schedule so that we could plan our personal commitments around our work. I didn’t even know how to write down the answers she gave us in my little notebook where I was attempting to keep record…again, Elle Woods. I was a mixture of embarrassed, confused, incredulous, and angry.
Then we awkwardly agreed to go take a look at the house. We followed her through the security gate up her mile long driveway to the 36 thousand square foot house. She gave us a tour that took at least 15 minutes, showing us the grand parlor, the two story library, the men’s and women’s powder rooms, the pools, the tennis court, the pool table, the bar and wine cellar, the indoor basketball court (I’m not kidding), our private laundry room, etc. All of these beautiful things made the prospect of taking a job that really was no longer right for us very tempting. I thought of Jesus as he stood atop the mountain and heard Satan say “all this will be yours if you bow down and worship me”. Jesus, of course, probably didn’t struggle as much to say no. He also probably didn’t worry as much about whether or not His Father would provide for Him.
While I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that taking that job would be an absolute disaster, Michael really struggled with whether or not we should turn down a place to live and a job. At that point we didn’t have any other real options in sight, and we didn’t want to be spoiled college graduates. A job is a job, right? It was our first “serious” argument as married people, because it was a serious decision! And we had one day to make it based on the information we had from one conversation with this woman.
We decided to fast the rest of the day and BEG God to tell us what to do. It’s always uncomfortable feeling so desperate for God in the moment, but I love the way He loves to respond to our need for Him. We argued some, prayed some, cried (well, I cried) some, and then we decided to drive around and do something else productive while we waited. We drove down to his seminary to pick up his class schedule. In the hallway there we happened to meet the President of the seminary who struck up a conversation. Within the first 10 minutes or so he asked, “So do you guys have a place to live yet?” Out of the blue. We told him that the housing situation we had set up just sort of fell through and he went on to tell us that a friend of his had recently offered a furnished backhouse to “the right people”. He asked if we liked each other enough to live in close quarters. Since we’ve only been married a month we said, “of course!” J Then he made a phone call and a few hours later we had an appointment to meet this man and see our new apartment, offered to us by the Body of Christ. Needless to say, I started crying right there in the seminary. We didn’t even know these people and they were basically giving us a place to live, and we hadn’t even asked! It was crazy!
We walked away feeling incredibly humbled, and very repentant of our lack of trust in God to provide. He had shown us in literally two hours just how capable He was of knowing our need and responding. He’s got resources! We thanked God for teaching us that we can say “no” to the wrong thing without fearing God’s abandonment, and we also thanked Him for the ability to see through the illusion— the bribe— of stuff. We decided it wouldn’t be worth giving up our autonomy and our ministry to have two pools or an indoor basketball court.
But then I realized that we as Americans accept these kinds of bribes all the time because we think all the stuff will be worth it. How often do honest men and women get caught up in the “game of who has more” and end up sacrificing countless hours and precious energy that could be given to their children or their ministry? Obviously they (we) do it because they think the stuff will be worth it.
Another incredible update is that today, this same seminary President offered me a job at Michael's seminary where I can make my schedule around my other commitments (amazing) and get full benefits, AND work in the same building where Michael will be all day, AND make good hourly money! We truly couldn't have written up a better situation. All because we said no to something else when we thought we had no other options...woah! Way better than an indoor basketball court :)