choosing later over now and practical over perfect


Building a new house is awesome, but I have to tell you: it's extremely overwhelming if you're a perfectionist.

On one hand, you get to plan everything; on the other hand, you have to plan everything.

Getting to decide all the details is both exciting and anxiety-inducing. What if you choose the wrong thing? What if this style is going out of date before you get it installed? (it will be). ahhh. It won't be perfect. Sigh. Maybe we can re-do it someday.

It's a little bit paralyzing- if you care. And I do, more than I wish to admit.

So this year, I decided I don't want to care anymore. I'm tired of putting my hope in the things of the world like that.

I have so many more important things to do in this life than to spend my time and money and effort to be in style. It's embarrassing to admit how much I've cared to be admired, approved of, and loved by the appearances I give to man.

But even with this knowledge, it's completely a daily struggle for me to want to be anything less than what the world tells me is beautiful. I struggle with my clothing, house, hair styles, cars, workout clothes, makeup, EVERYTHING. Satan tells us being frumpy and out of touch makes you look like a fool, but we know that God uses what is foolish to shame the wise of this world. (1 Cor. 1:27)

I don't want to love the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life anymore. It's exhausting. There is never rest- never anywhere to stop- because once I get the "thing" I so wanted, there's something else to want that's better and that "thing" I finally got is suddenly "old" and will now define me as out-of-style. Even though it's practically brand new.

I once had a dream (the real kind, when you're sleeping) where I stumbled upon an airport hangar that was a huge storage facility. In it were rows and rows of those huge gaylord cardboard boxes (pallet-sized, as tall as me) full of stuff that looked like it was from Goodwill. I started searching through them to see what was inside, and box after box after huge box was full of things I'd bought and thrown away in my lifetime.

Piece after piece of clothing, purse after purse, shoe after shoe- I recognized them all.

And I was so ashamed.

Then I woke up and realized the dream was actually true.

Since I was young I have spent my life collecting things I wanted and then throwing them away when I was tired of them. Goodwill exists because I love stuff, and they want to make me feel better about throwing it away when I find something new I want. In reality, I would be mortified to see it all in one place.

bags of stuff on the way out in 2013

What is wrong with me?? It's sickening.

You know what it is?

My heart covets.

I am an idolater. I worship myself. I am seeking to fulfill the lust of my eyes and the lust of my flesh and feel the pride of life.

Faced with the thought, half of me wants to run away and keep buying anything I want while saying "all is grace" and the other half wants to muscle it up and say I'll never buy anything again. But neither option gets to my heart.

Why do I long to "fit in" so very badly? Why do I put my hope in temporary pleasures rather than in Christ?

Because I'm setting myself up as god. I am serving the master of self over the Master of the universe.

Is the answer to stop buying all the things? It's not the buying and selling and giving away that is my main problem.  Maybe my issue is that I need to care less about what the world thinks and more about what the Lord thinks.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, He promises me. (Prov. 9:10)

If I diligently seek Him, He will reward me (Hebrews 11:6). He will give me the wisdom I ask for, without reproaching me for asking. (James 1:5).

And He has provided an answer for me in His Word. What does the Bible say about this problem I have?

It says asceticism won't stop my coveting heart. Colossians 2:

20If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22(referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

But what do I do if restricting myself won't work? What does Paul say next? Colossians 3:
1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is youra life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:b sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
Seek things that are above, where Christ is- stop putting my mind on earthly things. Put this coveting idolatry to death in me- it is no light thing to God. It is the very reason the wrath of God is coming!

So what might this look like in real life for me?

Practically: maybe I should stop studying people who love the world. Blogs that make me want the newest thing aren't helping me put earthliness to death in me, but studying the Word and filling my heart and mind with good things makes me long to know and see Christ.

Practically: maybe I should ask the Lord for wisdom first when I want to buy something.

Practically: maybe I should use the things I already have over buying something else so I can fit in with the latest trends, and find used clothing that might be perfectly fine but less stylish over new clothing if I need something.

Practically: maybe I should consider the usability of an item over its style. Can I keep and use this for years? (Did I really need that pair of bright coral cargo pants that went out of style the next year? No.)

Practically: where am I wasting the money the Lord gives me? I want to ask for wisdom to be practical over seeking to appear perfect so that I can use the money He's given us wisely.

Buying and looking for things of beauty in my home and life may not be wrong in itself, but I can swiftly take it to sin level in my heart by making myself my ultimate goal.

But if God is my goal, I stop caring so much.

Oh friend, I want to choose Jesus over the world.

I want to choose heavenly things over earthly things.

I want to choose the later over the now.

So even though they might not be pretty, or meet the Instagram standard, in Christ I do not have to be afraid of less-than-beautiful things that are useful. :) In Christ, I do not need to fear not being approved of by others. He came so that I can have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10), and know that my life does not consist in the abundance of my possessions. (Luke 12:15)

Because of Him, I can choose #practicaloverperfect.