This weekend I had a chance to spend time with one of my oldest and dearest friends. She and I have been friends since our first meeting in the 2nd grade and we have a friendship that is more like sisters than friends. We don't get to see each other very often these days because we live in different states so when we get a chance to talk in person we almost immediately go back to the days of Friday night sleepovers when we could talk until the sun came up. This past weekend, that's just what we did. Actually it was more like 1:30 a.m. but when you're our age with small children that pretty much feels like all night.
One of the things we discussed was the fact that she and her husband are on the hunt for a new house in her area. She is pregnant with Baby #3 and their current house is already a little tight with Kids 1 and 2 and all of the stuff that came with Kids 1 and 2, so they are looking to upsize for good reason. Did I mention her husband is a physician? Her husband is a physician. So as she sat and talked about their house budget, I tried not to go slack-jawed as she described the houses that they had been touring. Marble floors, coffered ceilings, umpteen bedrooms, the works.
As we sat chatting in my playroom, with its finger-smudged doors and Play- Doh encrusted carpet, I was tempted to go down the road of discontentment, envying the type of home that she can afford. My household income will never match hers and I will never be house-hunting for 7 bedroom houses but that's okay, right? Right? Of course I know it's okay but don't we all fall victim to comparison sometimes? Comparison which is the death of contentment. We grow old of looking at the same furniture in our living room, the same clothes in our closet and we start to grow discontent with our stuff and ultimately our lives. So we spend to bring back the contentment. We buy new furniture. We buy new clothes. We do whatever we can to make ourselves feel better about our own lives. Yet we all are smart enough to know that if we are always waiting for more money in the bank or more possessions in our houses, we will always be left wanting because there will always be someone with more money and more things.
What's a Cheap Mama to do? Be content. In all things, be content.
I have to remind myself of this quote when I feel the envy monster beginning to creep up, "If you want another's blessings, would you also take her burdens?" You see, my friend with the M.D. husband and fabulous house budget lost her mother to breast cancer at the age of 17. She went through high school graduation, moving to college, meeting her husband and walking down the aisle all without her mother there to share in the joy and happiness. She will have to teach her children who their grandmother is by looking at photographs and telling them stories from her own memory. So would I trade the time that I have had with my mother these past 15 years for a bigger house? Would I give up seeing her holding my newborn son for travartine marble and hardwood floors? Not in a million years. So I smile at my friend as she describes these houses and laugh with her that I know someone who could actually afford such beauty and I hug her tightly knowing that if she was given the choice she too would live in a hut if it meant having her mother here again.
In those times when I start to become disenchanted with my station in life, which I know will quickly lead to discontentment, I take an account of all of my blessings and then I remember what God said. See, He knew we would struggle with keeping up with the Jones' and gave us these words as encouragement, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." And in another part there are the encouraging words of someone who had lived in plenty and in poverty. "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." We often see that last verse plastered in locker rooms as a kind of mantra for superhero sports athletes or other giants of achievement. In reality, the context is in being content with what we have. It takes mighty strength to be content with where we are but it is possible.
Join me today in taking stock of the blessings in your life. And the next time someone tells you about their new expensive car, house, or piece of furniture give an honest smile and tell the envy monster to shut up. Remind yourself that you are content and blessed beyond measure.