Friday, June 9, 2017

Overcoming Disappointment with Truth

Frustration. Annoyance. Disappointment. Anger.

All these feelings came rushing at me the day I realized someone was building on the property right next to mine. 

For years Jonathan and I had been casually looking for the perfect piece of acreage on which to build our future, forever home.  On a cool, crisp, fall morning we happened upon a beautiful property surrounded by tall trees and blackberry bushes galore, with a pond in the back corner of the cleared portion of land.  The property stretched back deep into the cool, shady woods where I imagined my kids creating adventures that would stick in their memories for a lifetime.  It was perfect for us.  We could build and not see a neighbor.  Trees would bookend our house and we could sit far from the sleepy country road.

We bought the property and painstakingly drew and re-drew our plans for the house we would build with our own hands.  When it came time to dig out the side of the hill for our future basement, we were ecstatic.  Finally!  We were breaking ground on our forever home.   

A few days later while visiting our freshly dug plot, I noticed someone had cleared the trees on the acreage next to ours.  At first, I thought it might have been the electric company, then I noticed that flags had been strategically placed in the outline of a house.  A house that was too close, in my opinion, to our property line.  A house that disturbed the sight line from the large porch I had so meticulously planned.  The house that messed up my sunset view.  The house that muddled up the life I envisioned on that property.

I cried. 

Jonathan asked if I still wanted to build.  He told me it was not too late to sell and find somewhere else and I’ll be honest, I thought about it.  I fully entertained the idea of starting the process all over again, but then I remembered the wonderful things about the property and I still wanted this to be our forever home.  

Although I tried to get over it, I still I allowed myself to become bitter.  I was disappointed with the timing, I was angry with the placement of the house, and frankly, I was just bugged by the whole situation. 

And then God dealt with my heart.

I took time to think about my feelings and knew I had to deal with the negative emotions that festered in me.  As I traveled down the path of confronting my bitterness and disappointment, I realized I was angry at the situation and that my perfect ideal had been shattered.  In all this, God reminded me of two major things.

1. God is sovereign and I am not.

As much as I would like to make plans and think my way is the best and only way, that is foolishness.  Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  The truth of that verse, and many others, is that God is sovereign.  My God is the creator of everything (Colossians 1:16) and the giver of all good things (James 1:17, Psalm 84:11), so I can trust him when something I perceive to be inconvenient pops up.  Plus, what I consider to be inconvenient is really God’s way of growing me. 

Jerry Bridges, in his excellent book Respectable Sins ¹, explains that we should be thankful in ALL circumstances, both the good and the bad, the large and the trivial.  He references Romans 8:28-29 where Paul tells us that for those who love God all things work together for good.  All our circumstances help shape and mold us to be more Christ-like. This is the good of which Paul speaks, which is much better than our notion of good things like success and comfort.  As Christians, this is the good for which we should be thankful. This is grace God gives us. 

2. Loving your neighbor is sometimes inconvenient, but always worth it.

When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, his answer was two-fold.  Love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).  I’ll admit the second part is harder because your neighbor (myself included) isn’t always lovable. 

When our neighbor cut down his trees, tore down the large, antique, red barn, and bulldozed the brush, he not only opened our sight line to his house, but down the road as well.  Trees no longer hide us from neighbors; now we can see them and they can see us.  We have lost a bit of privacy. 

Sitting on my porch lamenting my lack of seclusion, God reminded me of why we chose this land and why we designed our house the way we did.  Hospitality is our goal.  Opening our home to current friends and those we would like to befriend has been a cornerstone of this project.  Seclusion, isolation, and solitude are nice, especially for this introvert, but God desires for my family to love our neighbors.  That means breaking down barriers and walls that keep others out.  It means opening doors to friendship, loving those around us without asking anything in return, and loving the unlovable.  Sometimes it means embracing a lack of solitude and a too close neighbor.

Ultimately, I am thankful for inconvenience.  It allows me to see where God is working in my life and in the lives of others.  It reminds me that God is sovereign, that He is good all the time, and it is not all about me. May I never forget! 

¹Bridges, Jerry. "Unthankfulness." Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2007. N. pag. Print.

No comments: