We bought a “fake” leather chair for Isaac to take to college on clearance at Menards. It sat in our living room for several months until a few weeks ago when we moved him to college. It was our only recliner and there was this empty space where it once was. We talked about replacing it and when we went and looked we started talking about getting an entire new set.
My mom had said we should wait until our kids were more grown up…less chance of it getting stained/ruined. And it made sense, it really did. We asked her honest opinion and appreciated her insight.
We have had the same couch for 10+ years and it was showing a lot of wear. The cushions were sagging and stained. It wasn’t nice to look at and it wasn’t very comfortable. We had a love seat that we bought off Craigslist for $80 when we moved here and the dog ate a portion of the arm off it so I had to patch it to keep it from coming apart.
But as we looked I thought, you know why not enjoy it with the kids. Sure it will get stained, but we have loved the life out of our old couch and what if we had waited to get that? It was well used and appreciated…and if we got new furniture it would be the same.
So we bought a couch and some chairs. I guess maybe I justified it all in my mind and I honestly felt good about it. I almost wrote a post about how we should go ahead and enjoy life, even if it gets messy.
Then we went to church on Sunday and our pastor preached about this need we often have to “keep up the our neighbors.” Our need to have everything now. The new car, a phone upgrade every time it is available….he challenged us to ask ourselves what we might do instead with the money we would use for that new phone, or a newer car. Do something radical like buy meals for a needy family each week for a month.
I will be honest I left feeling a little guilty and ashamed.
And while I don’t regret our choice to get the new furniture, I do recognize that this need to have what others have is a problem for me.
When we moved to this house I loved it, it was our dream home. We moved from a very small starter home to this one that had more space than we could have dreamed of. I imagined it to be the place that our grown children and their families would return to…I joked that I would die here, never moving again I declared!
The yellow walls were inviting and a change from the all tan walls in our old home. The grey exterior seemed warmer than the stark white we had left behind.
But at some point the yellow walls in.every.room. became too much and three years ago I started repainting every room I could. First the entryway and hallway, the dining room and kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms followed. The paint changed the space for me and I was once again content.
Then the outside color of our home started to feel too “institutional.” It was bland and blah and I wanted a change. We had a girl stop by from some painting company offering a free quote. We said yes and I started dreaming of the colors that were possible for our home.
The bid was almost $7000, and even if we had the extra cash, it was an outrageous price to have someone repaint your home…”we could do it ourselves” we thought. But the reality of finding the time/energy to get it done quickly put that idea to rest as well.
Our neighbors got a similar bid and decided to do the work themselves and last summer repainted their home. It looked amazing and I was jealous. I had high hopes that this year before graduation I might tackle the job myself.
Let’s all take a moment to really just laugh at that one ok? Ok you can stop now, I DO realize how insane that idea was.
And recently our other neighbors started getting new siding. It too looks beautiful and the ugly monster “envy” started rearing its head once again.
I called my close friend, the one you can tell your ugliest parts to and they still love you…I told her that I was SOOO jealous of my neighbors home. I wanted my house to look that nice. I wanted a new warm paint color and crisp white trim.
How quickly I go from dream house to dump.
It is a reflection of my heart really. This wanting, never being satisfied, content with all we do have. Always wishing we could have more. I can say I am grateful (and I am) but if I was really grateful, would I feel this discontented??
This morning I took a broom and started to clean up our front porch. It was littered with toys, and food wrappers, leaves and cobwebs. Oh the cobwebs. I started brushing and as I did my perspective of my porch changed.
As the cobwebs fell it took on a new life for me. Sure the paint is still chipping and the grey is still “institutional”, but it is clean and fresh again and I felt happy about it.
Sometimes we need to spend some time clearing away the cobwebs.
We need to do the hard heart work that God requires of us. We need to look at our motives and question why it is that we are making the choices we do. My pastor didn’t say we can’t have nice things, but he did say we should stop and think. Make wise choices and also be generous with others. Give back when we can and stop coveting what we don’t have.
Right now my house doesn’t look like I might dream it should. And when the yard is covered in white snow, the grey won’t feel bold enough for me. But for today I am seeing things with a fresh perspective, a new pair of glasses you might say.
No nothing has changed and it likely won’t for a long time…but I am going to be praying about being content…truly content.
I am going to stop and thank God for what I do have every time I start to covet something I don’t. It is a start. Yes the cobwebs may return…it seems they always do. But I have hope that I can once again get out my broom and work at changing my perspective. One sweep at a time.
Photo Credit: Stephen@home
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