I've been thinking a lot lately about balance, not just balance in my life as a mother of two little girls, but balance as I look at third world countries/developing nations through first world eyes at times. When I graduated from college, I never thought I'd be living in the United States, let alone raising children here. I had always assumed God's plan for me including teaching overseas (either ESL or TCKs) or living in the bush somewhere. Then I married J and his family's business is here. He loves his work and I am so thankful to have a husband who has a job that provides well for our family and that he enjoys it at the same time. But somewhere, we have to find a balance in between those desires. And we have been striving to do that for our entire marriage (and are getting much better at it).
We just finished going through David Platt's (author of Radical and Radical Together) study of the book of James in our small group and it has really opened my eyes to how we spend our money, how what I do day in, day out is furthering the kingdom of God and leading others to Christ, etc. There are days when I would be willing to sell everything (well almost everything, but at least all of the "stuff") and move to "The Bush" somewhere among an African tribal people or deep in the rainforests of South America or Southeast Asia. Days when I know raising my girls amidst another culture and teaching them to be grateful for all that they have is the deepest desire of my heart. Days when I want to donate my girls' clothes because who really needs 10+ bins of little girl clothes in their attic? And then there are the days where I desire to have a new minivan because we just "need" more space. Days I "need" new living room furniture because the dog has pretty much destroyed our little loveseat and what do people think when they see our sad couch the moment they enter our home? Days when the dream of owning land and building our dream house overtake the desire to donate large amounts of money to the missionaries who currently have two mortgages. Days when the urge to repaint my home and have people praise me for what it looks like overtake the desire to send extra money to our sponsored children. So how does one come to a good middle point of balance with these decisions? How do you do it (if you struggle with these things)?
We have very close friends of ours who are in the midst of preparing to take their family of four to minister in Papua New Guinea and when I first heard this news, my first reaction (after I stopped sobbing at the thought of "losing" a dear friend and my daughter's best friend to the other side of the world) was to be jealous. My second reaction was to ask why it wasn't me. My third reaction was to be thankful I didn't have to make the 20 billion hour (okay...slight exaggeration) flight with 2 children under age 3. Again, where's the balance?
Last week we decided that it was time to replace said sad loveseat with seating that is attractive, comfortable, not peed on by the dog, and sits more than 3 total people in our living room. However, when J went to purchase it last night, I couldn't do it. I couldn't let him spend x amount on a sofa and 2 chairs (that we were getting for a VERY good deal) because my mind was overtaken by the thoughts of starving children, missionaries without sufficient funds, dear friends about to embark on the journey of raising support, and even the thought that that money could go towards plane tickets for us to go (short-term mind you...3 weeks or so) with our little family to minister to missionary friends serving around the world. Where's the balance?
My sister and J reminded me that I can further the kingdom of God by having a hospitable home environment in which to serve others, have families into my home, minister to other moms, etc. They reminded me that it's okay to have nice things. But for me, this summer in particular, it has been a constant battle..."The Bush" vs. "The White Picket Fence." New sofa vs. extra money to our sponsored children. New minivan vs. $ for plane tickets to visit/minister to friends serving in other countries. Where's the balance?