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.
I relate to what you shared in this article and how you are not afraid to open your life to us. Much of the time people hide their vulnerability and therefore are never revealed to others as a living, breathing real person. This article touched me and I can see you doing these simple things each evening that people rarely reveal about themselves. My life in my one room studio apartment is so different from my life in earlier years when I lived in homes with much furniture and things that I though were important possessions. They are all gone now and I have some regrets at having to give up some things like a big dining room set I found that was so much like the one in my home as a child and having it was a comfort to me. Most things come and go however and I rarely feel their loss. I am really content here in my studio with my new cat (to me) Muffin,. Sometimes I miss having a close friend but then I rarely had close friendships since high school days.. I am not alone in that I realize.
Again thanks for your article and for sharing. If I were sentimental I would be wiping a tear or two away but I rarely can do that.these days.
Wow! This hits home. Thanks for sharing! Can you address anxiety/fear again please.