I unpacked the last box and looked around the living room of the house I’d call home for the next three years. The furniture had fit just fine in the spacious house we’d come from, but felt awfully cramped in here. The curtains I’d packed didn’t fit the windows, either. I’d have to buy new ones, and maybe some pretty artwork to hang above the couch. That big, empty wall needed some sort of decorative touch to make it feel homier, but I couldn’t find anything among my trove of framed pictures that looked right, and I didn’t have any inspired ideas. I was feeling discouraged. And now that everything was unloaded off the moving truck, it was time to go around and assess the damage our things had incurred on the four-thousand-mile journey, a process I knew wouldn’t make me feel any better, since each time we move, nearly half our belongings end up scratched and dented. Or moldy. Or lost at sea.
One thing that initially attracted me to the military lifestyle was the way frequent moves could help our family become less attached to worldly things. Having to sort through every single item we own every few years and evaluate whether it’s worth dragging across the world helps prevent us from accumulating too much earthly treasure, as does the knowledge that some of our things will get damaged each time we move. It is just “stuff,” after all.
Still, we all like to have nice things and a pretty space to invite people into. Many of us long for a beautifully curated life, and I believe God designed us to be bearers and creators of beauty in the world. But it’s not just God’s good design that motivates us to pursue beautiful things. We’re also influenced by Pinterest and Instagram and magazine covers and the cute friend down the street whose house and kids and life always seem so put together. If we’re honest, sometimes we’re motivated by jealousy and discontent and the belief that if we had nicer things, we’d be happier. That we’d be worth more.
Jesus told his followers not to worry about adorning themselves or filling their storehouses or building comfortable lives. The more we surround ourselves with earthly treasure, the harder it is to remember where our worth is found. Our worth does not come from what we own or how Pinterest-worthy our lives are. Our value lies solely in being created, redeemed, and loved by God, a God who can be trusted to provide for our needs in this life, but cares even more about the condition of our hearts. The people Jesus met who were willing to leave their lives and their belongings behind to follow him found a life that was rich with better things than what money could buy. Those who couldn’t bring themselves to let go of their possessions? They went away sad.
I think we experience a bit of that sadness ourselves when we chase after the next shiny object only to find it doesn’t satisfy. The good news is, you and I are invited to stop chasing after pretty things and instead pursue things with a truer kind of beauty. Things that are more real than what our eyes can see. Things that will last.
The television that sits in my new living room has a big crack in the screen. You can’t really see it when it’s turned on, and my frugal husband actually bought it that way. Our reliable old Econoline van has some noticeable rust, too. And while some of the items that have been damaged in our frequent moves have been discarded, others we’ve kept, deciding to live with the imperfections. Sometimes I am tempted to be embarrassed about these items or even to feel sorry for myself that we don’t have nicer things. We are fortunate enough that we could replace them if we chose to, but I’ve decided that I don’t need a perfectly curated life. There’s nothing wrong with having nice things, of course, and there are some worthwhile reasons to keep a beautiful space. But for me, the cracks and the rust and the scratches and imperfections serve as visible reminders that what I own says nothing about what I’m worth.
I am waiting for my eternal home, one filled with beautiful things that will last forever.
Jennifer Wier is a writer, professional counselor, military spouse, and mom of four currently living in the wilds of Alaska. A Chicago native, Jennifer has lived in England, Japan, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Washington, D.C., and various places in between. This transient lifestyle has grown her awareness of what’s unshakeable and worth chasing after. She regularly writes about the intersection of life and faith at www.jenniferwier.com. You can also find her on Instagram at @jenniferwier.
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