Living Modestly: This world is not our home.


 Don’t worry: If you’re here for the frugal house-keeping tips, I’ll return to your scheduled programming on Monday with a nifty, effective, and cheap! method for cleaning badly stained upholstered furniture.

Two Anecdotes and a Conclusion

A few weeks back, I read “The Minimalist  Secret to Productive Writing” on Jeff Goins’ blog. I said to myself, and I guess God was listening, “I would really like a writing table. Just a plain wooden table that I can put facing the wall in my bedroom and write at—pen and paper—with no distractions. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford one. . .I think it would help me to become a real writer.” 

And then I forgot about it. 

Last Saturday, a friend called me up and asked if I wanted a table. Otherwise, he was on his way to the thrift store with it.

He brought it over and it was almost exactly what I had envisioned. (Just a little bit larger and with two bonus chairs. More on those Monday.) If I wanted confirmation that God wants me to write. . . Anyway.

The other night, I was reading Molly Wizenberg’s account of her dad’s battle with bone cancer in A Homemade Life (a memoir/cookbook--love her recipes.) To say I found it unsettling would be an understatement. 

It made me think of how fragile and short this mortal life is—of the pain of loss. Even as a Christian who knows, as C. S. Lewis put it, “You don’t have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body,”—and knows that Soul is immortal—it is incredibly painful to think of the unavoidable, impending death of our parents and loved ones.

I couldn’t sleep. I got up to write, and out of it all came this:

Not Our Home

April 15th, late at night
It is our natural human bent to build cushioned lives for ourselves. We insulate our homes, sleep in foam and down, work in cushioned chairs or shoes . . . Insulated from the reality outside—the cold air, the hard ground—and suspended in a padded version of our own derivation. Roth IRAs, social security. Bulwarked, yet flimsy.

This isn’t what it’s supposed to be, I think.

Our Lord was born into a feeding trough, had nowhere to lay His head. He wore sandals, and they weren’t Nike or Reebok.

I wonder if all this padding leaves us ill-equipped to reckon with pain.

It takes a work-hardened hand to guide a plow or pull weeds.

Lord, strengthen us and bend us to your will. May we be more fully equipped with that Spirit which bore the Cross, and may we not shrink back from what You require.
There are a lot of things I’d like to have. 

An ironing board, a cd player in my car, an extravagant grocery budget, lovely new clothes. . .But I live pretty frugally. And even if I had a heap of money, I hope it wouldn’t impact my lifestyle very much. 

Prettily painted walls and a pinterest-worthy dream home? Or a child (or children!) sponsored and fed in a third world country? Which use of finances glorifies God more?

God provides for us, and He’s even generous. Out of all the furniture in my home, I’ve only actually bought 3 pieces—the rest were given, and I’m sure not lacking anything.  I shouldn’t worry about things or covet the baubles of this world. God’s got it under control and He will supply us with the tools and amenities He wants us to have. 

Let our hearts not be in this world that fades and dies, among idle dreams and amazon wishlists.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. —Mathew 6:21


I really love this post, Rissa. My heart has pondered the same things. Even so, I am so allured by the pretty little baubles this world offers, and so terrified of pain and hardship and my own weakness. I wrestle with these matters almost daily, it seems. I think I'm growing, though. I hope I'm growing... and yet, just this morning I was reflecting how my life is dripping with fat. I have everything. Everything I need, and plenty that I want, too. I feel so content, and yet ashamed, because of course I feel content. Will I still feel content when the lean years come?

Anywho, I really connect with your reflections here. You are probably the only friend I've ever made who understands this part of me, this particular thought process and struggle. I really appreciate having you in my life.
Marissa Deen said…
<3 I don't think contentment is so much a feeling as a choice. Or maybe a reminder.

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Phil 4:11-12

In your present state you're both full and hungry, right? I think that's an innate Christian state of mind, regardless of circumstance. :)
Anonymous said…
I've been reading a few posts here and there since I stumbled across your blog. It's been a humbling experience.
Over the past few months God has really blessed me, and I'm not really scraping by like I used to. I'm more... comfortable now. But reading your posts have really been a wake up call. I'm not called to be lazy or irresponsible with my money, I'm called to be a good steward.
Your thoughts are a humbling dose of perspective. I will definitely be reading more closely.
Marissa Deen said…
Thanks so much for reading, Lindsey. :) I pray you'll be encouraged in your journey.
courtney cloe said…
Amazing. I stumbled on here for a bathtub cleaner, and saw Christianity in the side column; you have an incredible insight into what God really wants for us. Keep it up!
Deb said…
Great post on this world is not our home! You have great talent n your writing. You fed my should write a book:-) ~Deb~
Marissa Deen said…
Thanks so much, Deb. :) I'd like if God put a book into me, but I don't think I have one yet . . .