Cara is a freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom living on the East Coast with her husband and two sons. After years of working in student ministry, she has come home to raise her boys and begin tackling grad school. She loves hanging out with college students, watching Parenthood and eating chocolate like it's one of the food groups. In addition to iBelieve, Cara is a contributing writer at RELEVANT and Today's Christian Woman. She writes about faith, marriage, motherhood and intentional living at www.carajoyner.com. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.
We live in an apartment. It isn't a hipster city loft surrounded by museums or a renovated condo with a pool and private gym. It's old, simple, relatively spacious (as much as apartments are spacious when occupied by kids), and it's very affordable. We are deeply grateful for this sweet space and the home it has provided.
I'm starting to feel the tension though. It hangs around on these long, hot days when the boys want to play in the grass and I want them to play in the grass and while driving to the park is wonderful, what we are all longing for is a yard of our own.
Then there's the host in me that loves to cook food for people and sit around a table. That part of my heart is also ready for a little more room. I'm slightly uneasy even saying that out loud though, because I LOVE the memories we have of turning our table sideways and crowding friends into our living room, passing the bread between the TV and the couch.
It irks me to call this space "small". We have SO MUCH. Seriously.
Occupy Wall Street broke my heart, because every time I heard someone say "we are the 99%", I wanted to take their hand and walk them through the streets of Sao Paulo on the day I cried for hours after handing out food to hungry kids, knowing that there were more kids than grocery bags and I had to look at dozens of children and say, "I'm so sorry. I don't have any more milk."
We are the 1%. Every single one of us with the ability to read this silly blog via access to the internet. We are wealthy beyond the dreams of most of the world, but oh how quickly we forget.
So I hesitate to call our apartment small. It's safe, spacious, comfortable and clean. We have a refrigerator stocked with fruit and vegetables and clean water. I won't tell you we need more space or are lacking in anything. I won't tell you that I need a private yard or that I deserve it or have to have it. I don't, which makes us even more grateful to have recently learned than sometime in the near future, we will probably be able to purchase our first house. Grateful beyonds words.
It's interesting, and disturbing, how the consumer in me brings out the especially ugly in me. Outside of our regular household purchases, we don't shop often because we don't have that type of cash flow. So when we are told by a bank, "you qualify for this much" and I start scrolling the internet to see what's out there in our price range, my definition of "enough" begins to morph rather quickly. Each time I catch a glimpse of my overwhelming hunger for more, I am reminded of how broken I am and how desperately I need life from a Man who didn't have a home to call his own, and He was just fine with that.
I think I'm even more bothered by the way I allow plans for the future to cast shadows over today. Our home buying reality is that it doesn't matter how much we love that little rancher needing fresh paint. Until we can come back to the table with the necessary downpayment, all we can do is window shop. We're working hard, but that piggy bank is still pretty hollow; and even though we're not going anywhere for several months, I'm already feeling "done" with our apartment. Our home. No longer wanting to fight for it, struggling to maintain it, giving up moments to enjoy it.
It's not just anticipating a move. It's a pattern.
Why do I so quickly allow the excitement of life's next thing to poison the goodness of life's current thing?
I'm not sure when the next thing will begin, but I do know that the boys aren't counting the days. We've talked about buying a house and the new things we could do there, but they aren't anxious or any less engaged while we wait for the savings account to fill up. They aren't whining about their routines or becoming lame-ducks in their play spaces. They're as content as ever. And when we pull up at their new home, whenever that is, they will be excited and celebrate and once again, be content.
How gentle of God to continuously use my children as two of my greatest teachers.