Only Temporary


Todd, age 4, playing in the snow outside our basement home, winter 1980-81

I have learned to get along happily whether I have much or little. – Philippians 4:11 NLT

Thirty-nine years ago, we moved into an unfinished basement fifteen miles from town, hoping to save rent money as we built our house ourselves. I was a stay-at-home mom, so money was scarce with just my husband’s income—and even that was sometimes only a hundred dollars a week.

The children were still toddlers—Todd was four, and Jaime was 11 months—and boxes, clothes and toys cluttered every square foot as I struggled to make that concrete cubicle a home. The furnace, on loan from my husband’s boss until we could afford a new one (which ended up being 25 years later), needed repair. It was already mid-November, and winter was closing in fast. A constant fire in the woodstove did little to warm up the concrete surrounding us. Insulating the place was still on our to-do list. I wore long underwear, a toboggan hat and layers of clothing indoors.

The plumbing was unfinished, so we hooked up a garden hose to the water tank and fed it through the hole in the wall above the tub meant for the fixtures. Lugging pots of hot water from the kitchen, I’d flooded the floor twice getting the kids’ bath ready.

My back ached from sleeping on an old, lump sofa bed mattress so thin I could feel the support bars. Our comfortable queen-size bed was still in the wagon shed, where we temporarily stored items while we unpacked and organized.

Three days or disorganization, interruptions and things gone wrong left perfectionist me struggling with my emotions. Why can’t I have nice things, the easy way, like everyone else? I wondered. Why am I always a “have not” and never a “have”?

Although I tried not to complain (too much), my husband knew I was struggling and tried to cheer me up. “It’s only temporary,” he’d say when my impatience oozed through the growing cracks in my composure.

“Yeah, right,” I’d answer.

Then an early snowstorm dumped six inches on the countryside overnight. Every two hours I bundled up even more and shoveled swirling drifts away from the only door. Flinging heavy, wet snow over my shoulder, I finally gave in to self-pity.

“Temporary, temporary!” I fumed. “Is everything temporary?”

The answer came immediately. Even if you had everything exactly the way you wanted, it would still be temporary.

I couldn’t argue with that.

Lord, help me to remember that my earthly condition, whether rich, poor, or in-between, is only temporary. Remind me daily what’s really important. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Timothy 6:6–8.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 by Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Our house now (summer 2019)