You live in a fifth wheel? (by Linda)
On the morning of April 14th I thought of writing about how I answer the question – You live in a fifth wheel? Don’t you miss your house? I was going to write about how God prepared me for moving into a fifth wheel (I call it the Schooner). I didn’t write that morning, can’t remember why, but I’m glad I didn’t, because I can, now, not only write about how God prepared me for this kind of living, but why He prepared me.
Over the last 8 months as some have asked, “Don’t you miss your house?” I have been able to honestly answer, “No.” I then go on to explain why I think that is: God prepared us to not have a house in a couple of ways. (I only see this as I look back.)
One way He prepared me was through our love of camping. We spent weeks at a time away from the house, living in a travel trailer – obviously a much smaller space than our house. I was used to cooking in a smaller space and cleaning was a breeze. Because we loved camping, I had a love-hate relationship with our yard – I loved being and working in it; it was time when my hands were busy, especially pulling weeds, and my mind could visit with God. However, I hated the“cloud” that hung over my head when we’d leave to camp, knowing that when we came home, there’d be more work to do than if we had stayed home.
A second way of preparation was through our kids, Traci, Brandon, and our grandson, Sloan. When they lived with us for 8 months, I got used to the house being “not my own” – I shared the space. I thoroughly enjoyed their being with us and wouldn’t trade it, but the fact is that when two families share the same space, some ownership/privacy issues have to be settled in order for that sharing to happen happily. Traci did much of the cooking, cleaning and laundry. It was easy to share. Having them there was a gift from God.
When God told us to sell the house, it wasn’t a gut-wrenching thought. It was a comfortable thought. We were aware of what living in a smaller place - with fewer things to take care of and no outside to worry about (along with everything needed to take care of an outside) involved, and we looked forward to it.
Why God prepared me for living in a fifth wheel was so He could give me two gifts.
First – I have a freedom I didn’t have before. I am not as attached to my “stuff” as I used to be, and frankly, I didn’t think I was all that attached. Having a smaller space in which to keep things, I have had to choose what I want to keep, from clothes and books to pictures and the tins I spent years collecting (and not dusting very often!). Yes, making choices was hard, but I had to determine what I really valued and why. What is really necessary to live? Not very much. I found I had collected (and I hadn’t collected like some) because I could – I had space. (Isn’t that why we want more space? So we can collect more?) And, funny as it may seem, having made those choices, I hold less tightly what I have saved.
Second – I have time: because I don’t have so many things, I spend less time taking care of them and the space to contain them. I have more time to read, time to sit and watch the birds at our window bird-feeder, time to crochet, and quilt, but most of all I have more time to spend with people. I am not really a people person; more of a doer – I love to organize and discover the best way, fastest way, to do something – I am the “Martha” in the Bible – that’s my bent, that’s how God made me. But, over these last 8 months I have learned that my “taking care of things,” and the guilt that came from not taking care of them the way I thought I should, kept me from giving to people in the way my Father has called me to give.
On the afternoon of April 14th the gifts of freedom and time came together in a way I never would have imagined. That afternoon, Greg and I learned our dear friends, Bill and Leslee, had lost their son, Willie, in a car accident early that morning. Because I had been given the gifts of freedom and time I could spend all the time I wanted and was needed with the McComb family. There was a freedom from the cloud of guilt of work at home not done – there isn’t much to get done, minimal number of things means minimal time taking care of them. I can’t explain the joy this has been. I wouldn’t trade the joy of being used by the Father in this way for all the things we gave away or sold. People are what counts – not a house and yard.
The American lie is that we need things to prove our worth.
Satan’s lie is that we have to take care of and protect those things before we can be about relationship with our heavenly Father and giving to others.
I don’t expect everyone would want to live in a fifth wheel, but I do think we should each ask: Do I need to and/or how can I downsize so I have the time and a freedom to be in relationship with others and give to them? Isn’t that what being the Body of Christ is all about?