—by Denise Rector

In keeping with my half-hearted resolution to be healthier, I was on my way to get something good for me—smoothie mix. I came around the corner, and it was right in the middle of the aisle: a curved leath­er sectional, situated perfectly in front of a gigantic TV and stand.

For the past three years I have been struggling with missing a special someone that I have never had. I’ve moved four times for school. I left a stable but soul-sucking job for…well, I am not exactly sure what yet. I’ve had a handful of friends get married and start families as I approach 50.

Seeing this pseudo-family room in the middle of a big box membership store was just too painful. I wanted to click on it and activate it. I wanted to cut it out of the store and paste it into my life, into a secure four-bedroom house in suburbia with a truck in the driveway and a lounging, good-natured husband who wouldn’t share the remote. I could almost smell the slow cooker full of stew and hear the dryer thumping in my imaginary existence.

What comfort we find in feath­ering our nests. I could not pass judgment on the other shoppers (yes, mostly couples) picking out huge containers of nuts or light bulbs or produce or socks. We were all doing the same thing: manifest­ing our personal ideas of agency and security in an age of anxiety.

Jesus has already told us about this wanting and how to handle it. Three whole chapters of Matthew’s Gospel are devot­ed to the Sermon on the Mount (the sermon appears again with bonus material in Luke.) Jesus turns a world of hunger, want and mourning upside down. When the first point of the presentation (the Beatitudes) is that everyone who wants will be exalted, people listen even if they feel confused.

Chapter 6 brings us faith to go along with our confusion. Jesus says, “Do not worry.” Jesus talks about worry six times in nine verses (Matthew 6:25-34). I had to laugh at myself when I realized this. It’s like Jesus knew that a leather sectional would bring the pang of an unrequited love—and other things wanted and not realized—and Jesus reminds me to “strive first for the kingdom of God and [God’s] righteousness” instead.

Denise Rector is an M. Div. student at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.

This article is excerpted from the June 2018 issue of Gather magazine. To read the full story or more like it, subscribe to Gather.

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