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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Found Wanting: Suanne Camfield, "I want a bigger house."

I am curating stories for a blog project called, “Found Wanting.” (If you’d like to submit a guest post, learn more here.) During Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was not uncommon for him to approach the sick and sin-sick with this question: “What do you want?” In John 5, he speaks with a man lying next to the healing waters of Bethesda, a man who has been an invalid for 38 years.

“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’”

The man seizes an excuse. “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.”

Was it too much for this man to hope for healing?

What is too great a risk to invite the responsibility for walking again?

There can be fear in desire: fear that we will want what God will always refuse to give; fear that we will not want whatever God, in his sovereignty, chooses to give.

Ultimately, we are profoundly afraid of ceding into the hands of God our trust.

I’m grateful for those willing to share their stories of desire here. I'm neither applauding nor condemning their stories: rather, I am amplifying their desires - and reminding each of us that to be human is to want. In my book, Teach Us to Want, I claim that:

“Desire takes shape in the particularities of our lives. We cannot excerpt desire from the anthology of our stories. Our desires say something about us – who we have been, who we are and who we are becoming. They tell a part of the story that God is telling through us, even the beautiful and complicated story of being human and becoming holy.”

To catch up on the series, read these featured stories: Amy Chaney, "I didn't want to be a coach's wife." Beth Bruno, "I've wanted beauty." Wendy Stringer, "I didn't want to move to suburbia." Steve Burks, "I've wanted to produce entertainment." Faydra Stratton, "I didn't want a child with Fragile X." Brook Seekins, "I never wanted to be a missionary in Africa." Sarah Van Beveren, "I have always wanted to be strong." Holly Pennington, "I didn't want to find out what I wanted." Larry Shallenberger, "I wanted to know what I wanted." Hannah Anderson, "I didn't want - because I couldn't afford to." Megan Hill, "I want your blessing." Bronwyn Lea, "I wanted a boyfriend, college scholarships, permission to sleep over at the popular kid's house." Jennifer Tatum, "I've wanted to be a woman of faith, but . . ." Sarah Torna Roberts, "I didn't want to be broken."

Today, Suanne Camfield shares her story of desire on the blog.

* * * * *

I want a bigger house.

Call me shallow if you must, but to the core of my being I mean it: I want a bigger house.

Nine years ago I was sitting on the deck of our (then) home in rural Ohio when my husband, Eric, handed me a piece of paper. It was an email from a large, influential church in the western suburbs of Chicago asking him to consider a position on their staff. Several interviews and a few visits later, he accepted the job and we started looking for a place to live.

The church happened to be in one of the most affluent suburbs in one of the wealthiest counties in the entire United States. The church staff was kind and generous to us, but as former missionaries, as new parents, as a one-income family, the small lump of equity we managed to collect barely made a dent in the booming real estate market; we reeled in sticker shock for months as we gaped over tiny houses whose prices nearly tripled that of anything we had ever seen.

Eventually (and it was a long, stressful eventually) we found a home in a great neighborhood that met our needs as well as our budget. We moved in and quickly settled into our new life. We felt grateful that God provided for us—and he certainly had—but as the months (and the years) have carried on, the size of our “cozy” home has left me struggling, sometimes daily, with the reality of longing for something I may never have—a home that allows me to foster the kind of community, relationships and family traditions I’ve always dreamed.

Now I imagine you may be thinking some of the same thoughts that have become part of my own internal dialogue over the years. It’s just a house. You have a roof over your head and food on your table and are swimming in material possessions. You live in the top 2% of the world’s wealth (insert Africa example here). Hospitality is an attitude. Community is organic. Relationships and traditions are made in the heart. Etc., etc. etc.

There’s nothing you could say to me that I haven’t said to myself (or preached to my kids) a thousand times in a thousand situations. In fact, just writing about it here, in the open, makes me feel a little foolish . . . because it really is just a house.

But the desire is real. And it’s deep. And the gap between the home I’ve always wanted and the house I have to live in is a place I’ve found myself “left wanting” as much as any of the deep soul desires I’ve ever experienced.

And so I’ve had to lay this desire—like all of my desires—at the feet of my Father. I’ve had to open my heart and confess both my needs and my wants. I’ve had to listen to what his spirit teaches me about contentment and comparison and inadequacy. I’ve had to believe his word when he says he cares about all of my needs—even this. I’ve had to listen. I’ve had to receive. I’ve had to confess. I’ve had to let go. And I’ve had to let my heart be transformed by the power of his mercy and grace.

* * * * *

Suanne Camfield is a writer and speaker who lives in Chicago with her family. Friend her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @suannecamfield.