It’s Not About the Company
by Hilary Alan
I used to worship my husband’s income. It was easy. In doing so, I trapped him. For 18 years, he worked at SAS Institute, the world’s largest privately owned software company, recently named number one in the world for the best workplace. Why wouldn’t it be? Who doesn’t want a 35 hour work week, a paid week off at Christmas, free onsite comprehensive health care, a free onsite fitness center, subsidized onsite Montessori childcare, subsidized gourmet meals, an onsite hair salon, private offices for most employees, and more, all set on an immaculately landscaped 100+ acre campus? Not only are the benefits among the best in the industry, SAS has been consistently profitable since its beginning. Its solid. Its secure. It takes care of you. Once you’re in, you’re set for life. We certainly thought we were.
The fruit of my husband’s time there got me a brand new, beautiful, expensive house in an upscale subdivision. It got our family luxurious vacations to exotic destinations. I didn’t worry about money because we always seemed to have enough. I felt secure because we had everything we wanted and, even better, we thought we had a strong and serious Christian faith.
But deep down, I knew that my husband’s job didn’t quite go with who I knew him to be. He wasn’t concerned. “It’s a means to an end, and besides, I like what I do and I am well paid for it,” he always said. I knew he was good at his work so I rationalized our lifestyle by believing that since he said he was happy and was good at what he did, it must be the right thing. But the more I enjoyed my lifestyle, the more I was silently telling him: “In order for me to be happy and for you to feel valued, you must maintain and even increase our comfortable standard of living.”
But God saw things differently. He saw a man who was slowly losing himself chasing the American dream, who was looking to a company for provision and security, and who had a selfish wife that encouraged him along that path because of all the nice stuff it got her. And He decided that things needed to change. He decided that the idols in our lives needed to be revealed for the false gods that they were.
He used a volunteer opportunity in a tsunami ravaged province in Asia to break us of our dependence on things that aren’t trustworthy. My husband left me, our kids, his job and everything else familiar and went to a dangerous place on the other side of the world to do dirty, stressful work rebuilding a community that he had never before even heard of. He emailed me a picture of himself while he was there that changed my life.
My jet-lagged, filthy, sweaty husband had never looked so peaceful, content, and happy. I contrasted it with a picture of him taken eight years earlier in a conference room at SAS before he was to give a presentation. He looked older, stressed, unhappy and chubby. What was our comfortable lifestyle doing to the man I loved? It was slowly killing him, physically and spiritually. And I was helping kill him by worshipping the lifestyle my husband had provided for our family.
Seeing that picture, I heard, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever. For the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3-4) I knew we couldn’t continue in the life we were leading because I finally saw what it had done. God was asking, “Who are you going to trust? Your husband’s income? His job security at the famed SAS Institute? Or will you trust me?”
I knew the only obedient response was “Yes, Lord.”