As a young woman, I used to imagine what my future home would look like once I could afford to move out of the cramped, college apartment lifestyle. I would picture a delicious reading nook with a cozy chair and the warm ambiance of a Tiffany lamp surrounded by rich mahogany.
Then I made my first budget, looked at the price of a Tiffany lamp, and put it firmly out of my mind. Even so, often I come back to that idealistic image. Last night catching up with my DVR, I flipped through one of the plethora of holiday catalogs that have already started filling my mailbox. The most beautiful Tiffany lamp caught my eye. I quickly scanned to see the price, $349. *Sigh*
I quickly calculated, imagined squirreling away $5 here, $20 there, anticipating purchasing this lamp. I pictured right where I would put it, how it would glow against my red accent wall. I stared at the picture, daydreaming of hot tea, cozy pajamas, and my lamp whisking me away into the perfect bliss of quiet reading time. Ahem, as if I ever actually FIND time in which to quietly read, but I digress.
Then I imagined military movers with my Tiffany lamp and shuddered. Then I thought about how my beautiful, imaginary lamp would really make me feel. I wouldn’t want anyone to touch it. Letting the kids dust it would give me palpitations. In my mind, watching the dogs chase the cat under the table that houses my imaginary lamp made my stomach knot. I imagined how I might act protecting my lamp. I could almost hear the shrill, sharp tone I would use if anyone played too roughly near my lamp. If it were broken someday, how would I feel about having wasted $349 when we’re living paycheck to paycheck?
I’ve been making a concerted effort to serve God intentionally in my home, with my home, choosing God’s focus in ways that encourage my family to enjoy our things instead of simply not breaking them. My house is supposed to give us a place to rest and fellowship, be a place to live.
Would a fragile lamp be worth the cost, much less the price tag?
One of the biggest changes my husband can see in my life has been relaxing who I am in our home, by what standard am I measuring my success. That standard should always be Jesus, Jesus who taught us to love each other, to love others more than ourselves, and that people who value wealth rarely find Him.
I look around at the now mussed, lived-in look of my house and celebrate the growth in my heart. I’ve spent years afraid to live with stuff that doesn’t magically get put away the second we are done with it, living without understanding the people in the home are more important than the things that might get broken. In the past, I’ve cried over broken ceramics, but ignored the hurts my careless actions caused my family.
But today, a toy broom lays at my feet because I was playing with my daughter after lunch. Her elaborate “picnic” sits carefully constructed in the middle of the living room, waiting patiently for her daddy to come home to play. Toy friends lie carelessly strewn right in the middle of the hallway waiting to create an entire imaginary world for her, causing her to stop to play instead of rush to beg for television or kindle time.
Saving up money and waiting patiently for something that we want is a good lesson to teach children, but right now, that is the only good lesson I can think of regarding this lamp.
Looking at the price tag, I can spend $350 on a lot of things: a plane ticket for one of my stepsons to visit, a vet bill for one of our beloved pets, Christmas gifts for our extended family, or a carload of groceries for the neighbors who haven’t had fresh vegetables in a month.
I have chosen to put serving God above everything else, and God always asks, “What can you be doing for me?” and I can’t see how I could serve Him with this lamp, either in my home or in my community.
No matter how beautiful a lamp might be, it cannot be allowed to overshadow God’s light in me. So, no, I won’t buy a Tiffany lamp. My house is supposed to serve my family, not my family serve my house. My home can be a safe place for my husband, kids, and pets or a Tiffany lamp.