This is Tim Benjamin’s Article published in the Evening Leader on Monday, February 24, 2020
I love my house. I have lived in parsonages my whole career. When I moved to St. Marys the summer of 2018, the arrangement here was that I got to buy my own house. I was a little apprehensive at first, because I had never done this before. After some searching, I found the little house that was perfect for me. After a few bad experiences with the people I bought it from, I got everything straightened up. After 20 years of literally never going home from work, in that I lived on church property, I got to go home for the first time. I never realized it before, but I never said the word home. I always called the place I lived “the parsonage”. It wasn’t a home because it wasn’t mine. I had to get clearance from a half a dozen committees and a court order to ever do anything to the house. Last night, I decided I needed to hang a hook on the wall so I could hook my scrub brush above my kitchen sink. Do you know how many people I had to call to get permission to that? Zero. It was very empowering.
I find I even sleep better because I get the chance to leave the office at the office. Just about every night before I go to bed, I wash my dishes in my sink, fold any laundry and set out my clothes and my gym bag for the next morning. Now, admittedly, I live in a bachelor pad. My living room has a rowing machine in it and my dining room has a video game console I splurged and bought with some of the money I got for Christmas. There is nothing more soothing after a hard day than punching a bunch of video game thugs in the face. It’s an old video game console called Final Fight that I used to play back when I was in high school. The nostalgia for a far less complicated time in my life runs pretty deep while I am playing that game. Nice that, since it is mine, I don’t need any quarters to play.
Some of the other things I love about my house is my Casper mattress where I sleep. I also got a weighted blanket for Christmas – and if you have never slept with one of those, I can’t recommend it highly enough. On the other side of my bedroom, I have an old rocking chair that belonged to my great-grandmother and beside it is an old “through-the-Bible-in-a-year” Bible that I have read through every year for well over a decade. My journal is there too. I record my prayers in there almost every morning.
I don’t have much in the way of worldly possessions, but I am more than content with what I have. I have learned to appreciate it all as a gift from God. Being content is not a response to our lives, it is a decision about our lives. When compared to most 45-year-old men, I probably am way behind in the possession race. I drive a car that is far older than I should have. But I love everything I have, and I deeply appreciate it all. Honestly, if I had more, I doubt I would appreciate it as much as I should. There is nothing like driving a 20-year-old car that doesn’t always start right away and makes weird sounds to make you appreciate actually arriving at the place you need to be. If I was driving a nicer, newer car, I probably wouldn’t appreciate getting there as much as I do.
Early in my career, I went from a little two-point charge down to be one of the associates at a large church in Cincinnati. Literally, I think that the parsonage I moved into was larger than the smaller of my two churches I moved from. I had just graduated from seminary and I thought I had arrived. I was serving on staff at a church of over 500 people per Sunday, having moved from these two small country churches. I spent 3½ miserable years there as the fish out of water. It was the “country boy moved to the city” story. But, even though I was unhappy, I had a sense of great fulfillment and recognition of my own greatness to be at this large church even though I was failing on so many levels. I was in way over my head. My next appointment was to a rural Ohio circuit of three churches. Honestly, not much larger than the appointment I left to go to Cincinnati. I felt demoralized. But that move was the best thing that ever happened to me.
What I learned is the importance of appreciating where you are and growing where you are planted. In my life, those aren’t just clichés. I became content not because of what God had blessed me with, but I was content because I was satisfied where God put me. It took me a long time to realize that our true sense of fulfillment comes from God and not from our circumstances.