Now that I've spent the whole first week of the Biblical Relationships series on Relationship with Self, I'm moving on to other topics! This week will be slightly more varied in theme. Today is Relationship with Dwelling Space. I've realized that how I relate to where I live impacts my daily attitude more than I'd like to admit. Today, first, a verse:

"But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened...those who buy, [should live] as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away." 
1 Corinthians 7:29a, 30b-31, NASB

Do you have a relationship with where you live? "I hate my house," "I love my house," "It's a work-in-progress,"? I know I do. The thing I find myself often saying is, "It's temporary." We're renting. We're probably moving at the end of the summer. I can ignore a lot of cosmetic problems because it's not "mine" (read: fake wood paneling on the walls). I look forward to our "first home"-- the place I feel we can wisely invest in painting, altering, updating. 

There are things here, though, that grate on my nerves sometimes. I debated whether or not I should get specific here and I decided that I needed to be for the sake of the post-- this isn't a cry for sympathy or a list of complaints. We have amazing landlords and the stuff we've dealt with is normal "house" stuff. 

In the past year, we've had a broken hot water heater, a twenty-four hour city ban on using unboiled tap water, hot water pressure problems in the kitchen sink, and two separate "times of trial" with a pesky mouse. (Do you think it's any coincidence that most of those problems relate to the kitchen and doing dishes? Often, doing dishes is the time that I'm most challenged to either pray or angrily brood!)

I've been working on being careful about inward murmurings or frustrated, angry attitudes. This involves a lot of prayer and flesh-crucifying. It's uncomfortable when I'd rather seethe or vent. I've found that comparison isn't the wisest thing for me. There are moments when comparison to those in poorer circumstance is healthy, but this humbling of my attitude is not one of them.

I cannot stand at the sink and merely make myself thank God for running water when others don't have even that. I cannot console myself into a good, cheerful heart with the fact that we have clean beds, heat or a/c, a roof. It's a problem because it can so quickly turn to (a) guilt, or (b) remembering that there are also others who have more.

No, I must put my flesh upon its cross with the thought, regardless of the circumstance of any other, "God can give and take away and right now this is what He has given me." For whatever reason, my present circumstance at any given time is where God can work in my heart.

When I was especially struggling with bitter thoughts or attitudes because of a problem with our sink or the mouse, I found myself often singing after/during prayer while doing the dishes. The song that prayer always brought to mind for a few weeks was "Kindness" and this is the part I kept singing:

"Your kindness, Lord, leads us to repentance,
Your favor, Lord, is our desire,
And it's your beauty, Lord, that makes us stand in silence,
And Your love, Your love is better than life."
(Also see Romans 2:4-8)

This is what I find I must focus on to finish putting my flesh to death: His kindness to me, regardless of any other human's situation. This is what humbles me and causes me to lay my bitterness down. His love is better than life. Do I believe it? Am I living as though I "do not possess" and "do not make full use of" those material things that bother me when I allow them to wreck my mind and heart so much?

There are times when God uses my situation to make me more aware of the suffering of others, to cause me to be sensitive to those in need, but those times are usually in retrospect for me. I've found that I often need Him to work in my heart in the moment without the distraction of comparison. I am called to be content whatever my circumstance because God has me there and not because my circumstance happens to be better than someone else's. Then, my heart learns the discipline of content for the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. I am led by His kindness. This is how I must relate to my home, my temporary dwelling-place. 


This is part of a two week series on Biblical Relationships that I'm doing with a network of bloggers! Check out their daily (or almost-daily!) posts on Biblical Relationships at these links!

Kathleen Guire             Tracey Moore               Charli Utt 
    at Positive Adoption      at Building My House       at WV Urban Hippies