Moving overseas is hard. A day is made up of a thousand decisions ranging from monumental to inconsequential. Sometimes just the complexity of the decisions to be made creates absurd situations. For example, I just got back from Kohl’s, where an epic battle ensued in the kitchen linens department.
I was standing there, innocently looking at lovely kitchen towels, when all of a sudden an argument broke out in my head. Not just any debate, but a complete Gollum/Smeagol scene, bitterly arguing with myself about whether or not I should buy new kitchen linens.
“You must have the lovely kitchen towels. You are moving far away where there is no Kohl’s or Target. You know yours are dingy and a bit worn. Buy them! Buy the precious!”
“But I don’t need new kitchen towels. Mine are fine. They are dingy, but who cares? They still work.”
“They are ugly. They will wear out soon. You won’t be able to buy more. You will be stuck with worn out towels for the rest of your life. BUY THE PRECIOUS!”
“But I don’t need them. If I buy new ones, they will be dingy too in less than a month. And the bleach! Don’t forget the bleach! Bleach is a daily hazard in a missionary kitchen. They will be bleach-stained within a day!”
“BUY THE PRECIOUS!”*
Why? Why do I fight with myself about such dumb things as kitchen towels? While I’m being a little tongue-and-cheek, there is a real internal conflict that goes on when it comes to what I think I need for my home. Why?
I think there are a couple of reasons.
- I fight with myself about dumb things when I forget where my home really is. My home is important to me, and I have long been entrenched in a battle with consumerism over its contents. But after I walked out of Kohl’s without the towels, the Lord reminded me of something a friend said recently. If we treated this world as we treat a night at the Motel 6, it would completely change our perspective. When you walk into a dingy hotel and you know you are only staying one night, you usually shrug your shoulders and say, “I’m just here for one night. It’s not a big deal.”This world is not my home. In the scope of eternity, I am here for one night, and then I move on to an eternal home.
- I fight with myself about dumb things when I lose sight of the big picture. You know those letters you can buy at the craft store that hang on the wall? People buy them and spell their name, or their initials, or whatever? Several years ago, Phil bought three letters and hung them in our office “W-H-Y.” They hang there to remind us to think about why we do what we do. Why are we making a thousand decisions every day? Why are we either selling or packing everything we own to go to West Africa. It’s because there are children there who may never get the chance to hear the name of Jesus. It’s because we want to make a difference for a child. People are dying without Jesus. Does it really matter if my kitchen towels are dingy?
Does this mean I’ll never fight with myself over dumb things again? No. In fact I fully expect I’ll have this argument with myself again next time I’m any store where pretty things catch my attention. And if I decide to buy the kitchen towels, it doesn’t mean I’ve failed, or that I’m too materialistic or not spiritual enough. It just means that I’m a real person, trying to balance needs vs. wants in light of what is really important. It’s a struggle I think we all can relate to.
*Authors note: If you don’t get this reference, check out the works of J.R.R Tolkien or the films of Peter Jackson. Or just this Wikipedia article.
But I’m going to assume 99% of you already know.