Feeling Ashamed and/or Prideful of What God Has Provided
Have you ever felt embarrassed of what God has provided for you to live in? Or maybe you've struggled with having pride in what you own? Maybe you didn't realize you struggled with either until someone made a hurtful critique of your home and it rustled your pride or fueled your shame. Learning to praise God and be grateful for whatever He provides is a life long lesson. It starts with giving thanks--in every moment, every day. If we never learn contentment with what we have here and now, then we will never be fully satisfied in Christ even when we have all the money, friends, and material possessions we desire. This is a peek at my journey through shame and pride regarding the various homes God has provided for us to dwell in over the years.
There was a time and place when I didn't think we'd ever be able to qualify to purchase a home. My husband and I were both working full-time at a church and were having trouble finding ANYTHING within fifteen minutes that we could afford to rent, let alone buy. I loved this season of serving together in a church and being newlyweds--though we definitely had some years of restoration to work through (but that's a story for another day). We were living in a 600 square foot apartment and ministering to a community that was very high white-collar. We had done the math. There was no way we were going to be able to live anywhere within a reasonable driving distance. While I was thankful for our first little Colorado home together, I did struggle with shame of not being able to afford much. I didn't want to be overtly wealthy or anything, I just was tired of always being the lowest on the totem pole in regards to the income and housing of those around me. Comparison truly is the thief of joy when we aren't careful. God really humbled my heart during this time and I had to keep coming back to Him to talk about all these roller coaster feelings regarding our home versus others--shame, pride, judgment, you name it.
So I started doing something crazy--I started praying for God to give us a home. It was going to take an act of God for it to happen, so I figured I'd just start consistently pleading with Him over this topic. My heart was to have a place large enough to host and love on the people we were ministering to. God had brought me to this church to serve on the church's children's ministry team and my husband to the arts ministry team, and yet we came to find out God really had us there to launch a young adult ministry. We learned this the first night we hosted a young adult Bible study and almost 20 people showed up and crammed into our little apartment. I knew right then that our needs were greater than what we had to offer to this new ministry.
Have you ever prayed a crazy prayer and then still felt completely shocked when God answers it in the way you requested? This was one of those times. I got a call from someone telling me about this house that was sitting empty and needing taking care of. And get this--it was 4,000 square feet!!! I instantly started dreaming of all the ways we could use that home to glorify God. Shortly after learning about this home we were able to move in and we started killing ourselves to use this home for God's glory! We led multiple Bible studies (sometimes each room had a study going on at the same time), we hosted events, had family stay, watched kids, and even had a family of four live with us for months. Originally we were going to pay some kind of rent, but the owner told us that they heard God tell them to let us live there for free! How do you even thank someone for that kind of gift?! Our hearts were committed to stewarding it well. It was also exciting to have one of our paychecks to give fully away each month--yes we paid off a car, saved, and made other wise investments, but we were able to give at a level like never before. It was thrilling! I found myself starting to think "we deserve this" because--you fill in the blank--we work hard, we give, we're in full-time ministry, etc. And I definitely found myself battling inner pride at times. It was hard to pull into a garage you knew you couldn't afford, and yet somehow that humble feeling succumbed to pride. I hate to admit that even after moments of praise I would battle moments of pride, but I did and I had to repent.
Before we knew it our time living in a 4,000 square foot house for free for two years was up and we moved into my parent's basement. Yep, we went from the top of the mountain down to the valley. We were in a season of restoration in our marriage which included my husband losing his job at the church and us going into intensive soul care counseling...all while living in my parent's basement. Now, to be fair, it was a gorgeous basement. But there's still a certain shame and embarrassment that I felt for having to move back home. It was humiliating at times. I went from being prideful about how God had provided for our needs and answered my outrageous prayer, to wanting to hide in a corner full of shame and pain. While most of the shame was probably due to the season of restoration we were in, it was also connected to the home God had provided for us. We are so incredibly thankful for how our family loved us and welcomed us into their home during such a fragile time. We know not everyone has that kind of support. We are indebted to them for forever. But having to move back in with your parents at that season brought so much shame. Thankfully, my husband and I were both committed to restoring our marriage and eventually were able to find a ministry job in the mountains and purchase our first home together.
The Mountain Home
God took us out of that basement and gifted us a sweet home in the mountains.There's so many emotions that come with owning your first home. Humility. Praise. Overwhelmed. You name it. There were only three homes for sale in our price range, so we really couldn't be picky. But, I honestly couldn't believe it when we signed those closing papers. What a provision God had brought! We had mountain views, deer and bear on our property, and my husband worked five minutes away. It was the "posh life" in so many ways. Those couple of years in the mountain home brought further healing to our marriage and ministry as we continued to share God's testimony of redemption and forgiveness in our relationship. That home brought so much healing, a grateful heart with praise to God, and great humility that we could live in such a serene setting and afford the luxury of being homeowners.
The Unexpected, Our Perfect Provision
Fast-forward in our mountain home a couple years and we decided to join a church planting team headed for Loveland, Colorado. This was a rough transition for me as I was suffering from postpartum, but God saw us through. After a year living in a rental in Loveland we found out (a few months before the church's grand opening) that we HAD to move out because our landlords were selling the home we were living in. It would have been a great house to purchase but was way out of our price range (we had a gracious donor pay half our rent for the first year so even as a rental property it was out of our price range).
We started praying and putting offers on anything we could find. This was in 2016 when the market was going nuts! Six offers, some offers were thousands over listing price and we still couldn't find a home. I was even looking for apartments and rentals and could not get anyone to call me back. So weird. We started asking our friends to pray for a miracle--that God would help us find a home off the market to buy because we couldn't keep up with the bidding wars. One day I was looking on Craigslist again, (well, let's be honest I was scouring that site every hour), and I see a shady one line post. My friend calls me and says she saw this post as well and I should call to inquire about that listing. Ugh. Fine. There were no pictures or anything, so it looked like it could be spam, or even worse. I called the number listed and an older man answered the phone telling me I was first in line to see and/or rent this house. Great! We show up to view the house and it's a little rough--spiders in the sink (my ultimate nightmare), dark rooms with brown walls, pink kitchen, old light fixtures barely hanging, and the fence in the backyard was falling over. However, it had three bedrooms, A/C, and a "fenced" backyard--our top three wishes for a home. We'll take it. Why not? It's a great price and we can see ourselves doing life here for a season.
We show up to sign rental papers the next day and the guy says, "I need you to come back on Monday so I can work on some financials." Now I'm panicking. We have to be out of our rental and cannot find anywhere else to live, and our church is launching! If you've ever launched a church you can only imagine the stress of having to move days in between all of that. We go home and later that weekend I receive a voicemail from our realtor.
"Hi Megan, I ran into a friend recently who I have helped purchase some rentals over the last few years. He told me he was going to be renting his house out to a nice pastor's family but would really like to sell it. I told him that I knew a nice pastor's family that would really like to buy it--and come to find out we realized we were both talking about the same family--you guys!"
WHAT!?! All of a sudden I felt God answering our prayer--to purchase a home off the market--and at the same time my pride was kicking in with "really, that home?"
We were dumbfounded. There's no other explanation of how God provided this home for us other than HE DID IT. All Him. Not us! So we bought it. And we've been working on it for the last six and a half years. It's the best home yet, even compared with the mini-mansion. I'm serious. The ranch style has enabled us to watch our kids crawl out to the backyard and view the mountains and green grass while eating dinner or homeschooling from the table. The open living room and sitting room has hosted dozens of large groups for Bible Study or mom's nights. The galley kitchen hid our dishes and "life" while I taught piano in the front room for a few years to help pay bills. The "bonus room" has blessed me as a laundry room, workout room, mud room, and desk space all in one area. The massive garage can hold two cars, a built in storage room, and now my husband's office that he built to work from home. We didn't even know there was a huge park seven houses down from our house! Me and the kids live, school, and play there throughout the year. Shortly after we moved in God answered another prayer of ours and brought soul sisters in just down the street. We do life together, raise our kids together, play at the park daily when it's warm, watch each others kids for one another, and even minister to our neighborhood with outreach events year round. This home is literally a dream come true. I never realized how incredible 1500 square feet could feel. We've had to work hard to slowly save money to replace, fix, and build onto what was here--and thank God for all the Home Depot gift cards our family gave us those first several years. This unexpected gift has humbled us and drawn us to praise God time and time again. We have a great joy and humble pride to be living where we live.
James 1:17 says, "every good and perfect gift is from above..." Every time God provided above and beyond our means, it was all Him. Even when he provided for our needs in ways that I at times felt were humiliating, He STILL provided. Shame only came into the picture when I was confronted with my own pride or took my eyes off the Father and started comparing what I had with what others had been given. Do our own choices and money handling have to do with how/what God provides? Of course. But even though we live out earthly financial success or financial consequences, God is still in control of it all and can do what He wants to do--regardless of our choices. I know that God gave us our current home, the home we've lived in longer than any other home, because this is our mission field. He could have given us a home with a basement or larger spaces to minister to the masses, but for now, He hasn't. He wants us to steward well THIS provision, THIS gift, and reach THIS neighborhood. He knew all of my heart's desires and even what I didn't know I NEEDED. He blessed us with it all anyways.
Thank God for providing for your needs whether you're in the mountain home or sulking away in the basement. He's with you. I'm still learning that I cannot carry shame or pride with me and be the kind of person God has called me to be. I still have moments where someone says something critical or hurtful about our home and I start feeling ashamed OF THE MIRACLE GOD PROVIDED FOR US! How ridiculous is that? I have to let those comments or thoughts slide and pursue being unoffendable. When I'm getting TOO prideful about my home I have to repent of that, too. I'm committed to working on being in a state of praise and gratitude no matter what.
God's provision is His decision.
Let's steward it well and praise Him for whatever, and however, He provides.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.