17 years’ ago, I was on holiday in the south western coastal town of St Ives, Cornwall, when we happened to go down a road called ‘Market Jew Street’.
Now, the last Jews in Cornwall left a few hundred years ago, but one of the weird things about the UK is that you often trip over these remnants of Jewish life from the Middle Ages in some unexpected ways.
So, we were walking down ‘Market Jew Street’, looking around, when my husband spotted a table and chairs that he really liked. My husband is not a big furniture person in any way, shape or form, but we’d just moved into a new house, we were expecting our first child, and we needed a new table and chairs.
The table was massive, made of reclaimed wood and old wagon wheels that were a few hundred years’ old, and was quite a ‘conversation piece’, in its own right. So we bought it, and got it delivered back to London, where we lived.
That table and chairs has been with us on all of our journeys since, and has moved around six times (not counting a year it spent in storage).
When we were living in big, spacious houses, I absolutely loved it to bits.
But when we moved into our small flat in Jerusalem three years’ ago, in somewhat traumatic circumstances, it quickly became clear that the massive table took up nearly all the floor space in the living room.
That first year, I was so shell-shocked I barely noticed anything. By the second year – last year – I had the increasingly niggling thought that the table and our current living arrangements really didn’t go together too well. But I thought to myself hopefully, ‘things will turn around for my family soon on the financial front, my husband’s new business idea will take off, and we’ll be able to move to somewhere bigger again, where the table won’t be such a pain in the bottom.’
Dear reader, that didn’t exactly happen.
At this point, I’m starting to stare reality straight in the face, and I told my kids and husband a couple of months’ back that we need to stop living in denial, and to get a smaller table that will let me do other things in the living room, too (like exercise…breathe out….walk around without smashing into the corner of the table all the time…)
That didn’t go down at all well. My kids complained that the table feels like ‘home’ to them – instantly triggering off all the guilt buttons about how much we’ve moved them around. And my husband also had a very strong ‘keep the table’ moment going on, which brooked no argument.
So, the table stayed.
Two weeks’ ago, I came back from the UK feeling like I really need to start exercising more. I have a couple of ‘kosher’ exercise videos that I can watch on my PC, and in my last (massive…) house, that’s how I kept fit.
Here, I have a space of 1 x 2 metres to exercise in, plus a low beam that I keep smashing my hand into if I get too excited, plus that space is only clear anyway because it happens to be right next to the door, which can be a bit tricky if someone comes in or out when I’m in the middle of my mat work.
So long story short… I exercise about once a month.
I came home from the UK, realized why I’m finding it so hard to exercise at home (again…) and decided to broach the table with my husband again.
“My love, we’ve been in this flat for three years now.”
“My love, as far as I can tell, our plans to save some money / move / find somewhere a bit bigger to rent really aren’t getting anywhere, fast.”
“We’re in ‘waiting for an open miracle’ territory, you know that?”
He froze. He could see where this was going.
“…And in the meantime, I’m going to get fat if we don’t ditch the table and get something from IKEA that I can fold up and shove in the corner.”
My husband is so mild-mannered, so sweet, that whenever he has a ‘strong emotion’ moment, it’s always a sign of something much deeper going on.
“We are keeping the table!” he growled, and shot me a dirty look.
God clued me in about what was going on, here.
If we get rid of the table, it’s admitting defeat. It’s admitting that we’re stuck renting a shoebox for the rest of our lives, and that we’re probably never going to own our own home again, or move to something nicer.
While that is probably the reality of the situation, it’s pretty hard to accept. It’s pretty humiliating, especially for a husband who really is doing his best to provide financially for his family. It’s pretty upsetting, to put it mildly.
But what if we have to let go of the table that is really our last remaining ‘status symbol’, and accept that last, humiliating blow to our egos, before God will change things around for us, on the house front?
That’s the question.
And right now, I don’t have an answer.