Moving can be a weird concept. But then again, staying in the same place your whole life can also be a weird concept. I’ve seen cultures that thrive on the one and simply don’t get the other.
But in our culture, it seems that whether you live in one place or move around a lot, it is weirder still to move in with parents when you are an adult.
My husband, Kirby, and I just finished moving out of our first home, where we’ve lived for 3 years, and into his parents’ house. This has been an adjustment. Perhaps the battle is more mental than anything. When I tell people where we are living now, I feel the need to explain why we did what we did or suffer their judgment that we are such bums. I mean, last month I turned thirty, this month we moved into his parents’ house. In American culture, we tend to make adulthood synonymous with moving out, independence, and being on our own.
We moved out of our first home (which we rented) because of some physical problems with the house. Months ago we began looking at buying land or a house, wanting more of an investment with our money. But the more we continued to look, the more we also began to think about missions and how that is a part of our future. (No concrete plans, we just wanna serve God). So buying didn’t seem logical at present. Who wants a big mortgage payment when you may be spending half the year overseas?
Through lots of discussions, we realized that moving in with Kirby’s parents wasn’t a bad idea at all. We could save more money, have some time to really seek what our future holds, and be good company for his parents: official empty-nesters for a couple of years now.
So why is the stigma so real? Why does everyone assume we must be in a really difficult place financially to make this move? Or that his parents need extra help? Or some other dire reason that would force us to do this? Could we do better managing our money? Sure. But could we afford to rent somewhere else? Certainly. Moving here was a choice. Not a necessity.
Have we begun to value independence and self so much that we no longer know what it means to live in close community even with family? Did we have to give up some freedom to move in here? Definitely. Did we have to give up some stuff? Thankfully.
Kenneth, my father-in-law, says that the “American dream” has actually diminished family values, especially families being interdependent upon one another. And when I think about it, he’s right. Our culture seems to prioritize independence and self-sustainability. Self-sustainability can be great when it comes to the environment and physical resources. But when it comes to relationships, why do we think we don’t need anyone at all? Is it pride? Selfishness? We were made to be connected.
Families are important to God. He created them, after all. Community is important to God. He is one, after all.
In a passage of scripture that is very precious to me, Jesus prays for us. In John 17.20-23, Jesus says, “My prayer is not for them [his disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
It is by our unity that the world will know Jesus is God, worthy of our worship. And notice what he says he has given us to help us be one. His glory. And, what is Christ’s glory? The cross. And what was at the heart of why he went to the cross? A holy and divine love that leads to self-sacrifice.
Jeremy Treat, in an article he wrote for Christianity Today says this: “To say that God’s glory shines through the Cross is to make a deeply Trinitarian statement. John’s gospel makes it clear that the Son glorifies the Father (7:18), that the Father glorifies the Son (8:54), and that this loving Trinitarian exchange of glory has taken place for all eternity (17:5, 24). And yet, stunningly, the Cross is where this Trinitarian exchange of glory is put on full display. The glory revealed through self-giving love at the Cross is a window into the eternal life of the triune God. Through the Cross we see the wisdom of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the power of the Holy Spirit—the harmony of which results in the radiant display of God’s glorious self-giving love.” October 2013, Vol. 57, No. 8, Pg 56, “The Glory of the Cross“
Living in community is about learning to give up more of yourself. That’s the picture of God as three-in-one. And the more we learn to give up self, the more we realize how selfish we really are. God helps us to give up that selfishness so that we can be unified with one another. And that is how the world sees Christ in us. If we live for ourselves, we will look just like the rest of the world.
Moving in with parents at first feels uncomfortable. I have to give up doing things the way I want to do them sometimes. I have to give up parts of my schedule or lazy habits. But I’m learning that what I gain is so much more important. I’m learning more about giving up myself. And that leads me to a life led by the Spirit of God to walk in the ways of God.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ ” -Matthew 16.24