Let’s start with a confession: I’m a girl who doesn’t like shopping. (Feminists rejoice! Others be shocked!) Despite the fact that I live less than half a mile from a mall I have not set foot in any of the stores (except the book store and the coffee shop, but I don’t consider that “shopping”). I’ve only been here a few weeks, so I’m sure that will change, but my point is that I have made no beeline to shops, and I shed no tears on said “loss”.
But I am shopping these days, and it brings up more emotions than I anticipated. I’m house shopping, sort of. Let’s be clear: no purchases in the next year or so, as we’ve signed a lease and are perfectly happy in our current abode. But I wanted to get a better sense of the real estate market here after the craziness of Berkeley, so I now receive rss feeds of random houses in Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Redmond, and Seattle. As I look through listings (and look up their walkscore–such a fun item!) questions pop up: what do I really need in a house? What do I want in a house? What is reasonable? What location would we consider ideal? The list goes on…. This is fine to ponder, but other issues surface: if I get a house bigger than the one we had before, am I being greedy? Is it possible to live a simple lifestyle with more than 1500sf? Should we purposely buy a “smaller” (most houses are way bigger than the one we had in California, so smaller is very relative) home to attempt to live a simpler life? What does hospitality look like to us? I’ve dreamed of living amongst trees and water, and my dream could come true here. But is this a God-given dream? And I’d love to be the place that my kids bring their friends, and have space for them to hang out. How much space is that? And then there’s the gut breaker: I live a life of “have” and there are so many in the world that have so little. And I want a kitchen to be updated?????? It makes me feel utterly self-indulgent and materialistic. I don’t know how to shed cultural expectations (or desires). At the same time, I’m not sure that God is calling me to live in a cardboard box or without electricity either (at least for now). How then shall we live?
We’re looking for a new faith community, too, affectionately known as church-shopping. Long ago I realized the myth of the perfect church. It doesn’t exist, nor would this imperfect girl be happy in one that did. So…what are our priorities? I’d love an intergenerational, multi-ethnic, and otherwise diverse church with great preaching, women in leadership (yup, had an epiphany on that one recently!), a heart for justice and loving the local community as well as the world at large, and a small enough congregation that people could more easily get to know and serve each other. Oh, and a great place for my kids to grow up (because it’s not just about me anymore, is it? Or maybe it never was. Sigh.). If you’re in the Seattle area and can recommend a church, feel free to do so. Short of that, we’re looking around. We walk into a new place, look around, worship while making observations (and judgements?) about said worship, and then chat up a few people before we head out. Then it’s a gut feel for yes or no for a return visit. We pray. It’s hard to be in a new place weeks on end when we’re aching for community but longing to feel like it’s the right place as well.
I’m reminded, again, that I don’t love shopping.