Sadly, if you know me, you also know I live in a little house. Why do I say "sadly?"
Because I've chosen to dwell on it. I've mentioned it when it didn't need to be mentioned. And I've said more than necessary about it, when it was germane to the conversation.
Allowed it to taint my joy in decorating, cleaning, and caring for my home. Allowed it to be an excuse for not extending hospitality to friends and family, let alone strangers or angels unaware.
I've chosen to let it bother me--over, and over, and over. I name-drop my small house all sorts of places--Facebook, church, business conversations, this devotional blog.
My house is about half of the average American home size, according to people who track such things. Yet it's still twice as large as the average home in many developed nations, and a palace compared to undeveloped and Third World countries. It contains far fewer people inside that space than the world household size average. It would make a lovely and even spacious apartment in any city anywhere.
So why isn't it enough for me?
If I'm honest, this is the area in which I'm most bludgeoned by discontent. Would I like a fancier car? Yes, but I don't go online to look at them, compare features and calculate monthly payments. Would I like a nicer wardrobe? Yes, but I don't shop excessively and rarely spend more than $40 on an entire outfit. Would I like a phone with more bells and whistles? Perhaps, but for now my modest Samsung S4 is working just fine (and never catches fire, either). I do occasionally long for household help, but if I get off my lazy duff and do it myself, it doesn't take very long to clean a 1000 square foot home.
But this house thing. This is my big, Green-Eyed Monster-Making thing. The thing that makes me bitter that I don't have it, and others do. I am fascinated by history and would love nothing better than to spend my days caring for some gorgeous old Victorian dripping with gingerbread trim. When I see a neglected one, I want to take the owner by the shoulders and shake them. Don't they know what they have? Don't they know what I'd do for a house like that?
I think there's probably a (Green-Eyed Monster-Making is sooo wordy) GEMM issue like that for every person on the planet.
The one thing that just really pushes them over the edge into... sin? For sin it is.
A well-meaning Christian friend once told me there was nothing wrong with longing for a different home so I'd have more space for my business and my family. But you know what? That isn't true, for me at least. My longing far surpassed a simple sigh now and again when I spotted some fantastical three-story turreted beauty with a For Sale sign on the lawn. My un-checked longings led me straight to sin, every time. It led me to tears of futility every time we "lost" a house we had looked at. It led me to hours of web-surfing, looking at houses "just a little bit" out of our price range. To make unwise business and time choices in an attempt to force a change in our finances. To fighting with my precious husband and to an ungrateful attitude that bled over to my precious kids.
(That's what the Lord often uses to bring me up short. I don't even realize I am passing that attitude, those values, along to the next generation, until I hear my own discontented words parroted to me from the back seat of the van. Double OUCH!)
This "harmless" desire for a good thing to be replaced by a better thing crosses right over into sin, in very short order.
And sin, my friend, is NEVER harmless.
Everyone--literally everyone!--told me it was only a matter of time. That God would give me the "desire of my heart" eventually. That I just had to be patient and it would be my turn for the miracle answer to prayer. That they'd help us move in and we'd all laugh and praise Him for providing. All signs point to Happily Ever After.
I love my friends and family, but that was unwise counsel. Yes, God could bless us with a bigger floor plan or a better neighborhood. But He doesn't work that way. Not everybody gets what they want, if they just want it long enough. I could have the very purest motives and the patience of Job--no matter. I can pray until I turn blue, with a long list of legitimate reasons I "need" more space, and never leave this block.
And God would still be good.
You see, the very worst thing my unrestrained longing led me to was unbelief in the ability of God to provide what we need, when we need it.
I knew what was best for our family, and He wasn't getting with the plan. The simple audacity of that sentence takes my breath away. I know better than God. We're supposed to be in the Clyman Street historical district, or a few blocks west in the Washington Street neighborhood. or maybe in the brand new development near the church. Instead we're in the old Irish District with a postage-stamp sized yard and a persistent mouse problem. How can we be looking at our 15th year in what was supposed to be a "starter house?"
Cue the GEMM entrance music.
What my continued discontentment is saying is that I know my needs better than my Creator does. And He is not meeting them.
I'm reminded of the New Living Translation phrasing of Isaiah 45:9: "What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, 'Stop, you're doing it wrong!' Does the pot exclaim, 'How clumsy can you be?'
Sorrow indeed--envy, bitterness, poisoned relationships, and unbelief. What a price I will pay for continuing down this path. Look at what seeds my discontent has sowed.
I guess the question I face in this moment is whether or not I will start to take my sin seriously, sincerely asking for forgiveness, and throwing the covetous thoughts back on the pyre every single time they arise? Or will I continue to treat it tepidly, fizzing with sparks of frustration every time another hot lead bites the dust, exasperated at the slowness by which my Maker is fulfilling the to-do list I've made for Him?
Father, I want to be the kind of woman who is satisfied with "just a cottage below," knowing my treasure is laid up in heaven, secured by the promise of Christ's righteousness and Your forgiveness and acceptance. You know my innermost thoughts and feelings, and it is useless to pretend my sin is anything less than an act of rebellion against You. When I struggle--for I will struggle, please grace me with immediate awareness of what I am truly saying with my "harmless" desires and longings, so that I may repent and redirect to praise You. Through God-granted faith, help me make the right choice, to trust Your Will in every area of my life. Help me dwell on Your attributes of wisdom, perfection, immutability and goodness. Fill all my vision, Lord! I am overwhelmed by Your provision and Your mercies. You alone are God, and You are goodness personified, abundant and overflowing. Help Thou my unbelief! Amen.