A few months ago, my husband and I bought our first home. This is where I would like to take a moment and toot our proverbial horn, because prior to this purchase, we had been renting for five years. We waited as patiently as possible to make this move. JD did anyways, me…well, patience has never been a quality I have possessed. Now here we are, by nothing more than God’s grace, paired with what I would like to think, our hard work.
The fences in our neighborhood are made of black wrought iron. Perfect for being nosy. I would be lying if I said I haven’t snuck a peek at the neighboring backyards. The family we share a fence with has a pool. Oh, and a custom golf cart.
On any given day it’s not abnormal to see preteens cruising around our community on their parent’s golf carts; and you will frequently see a boat getting towed down the street heading to the ramp. My point is, I notice these things. So let me be the first to admit, I am no stranger when it comes to coveting what others have. I would probably say that is my biggest “problem area”, with my lack of patience following closely behind.
The odd thing is, I don’t even realize I am doing it, until my green-eyed monster (otherwise known as jealousy) comes out of hiding and suddenly I am wracked with negative emotions.
Oh, if only I could be more like Paul. You know, Paul. If you don’t know who Paul is, please see below (even if you do, read on):
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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 all this through him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:11-13 NIV
Did you catch that? “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” I feel like I have received one too many gut punches this month. Content. You know, Webster defines the word content as: pleased and satisfied; not needing more.
Growing up, I wouldn’t exactly use the word “comfortable” to describe our financial situation. I will say that my mother did a great job of parenting, because I never knew the difference. The thought that other people lived in a way that wasn’t similar to us, never even crossed my mind.
The normals of my life were hand-me-downs, garage sale hunting, and living in a trailer park. It wasn’t until the seventh grade that we moved in to our three bedroom brick home, and I was thrilled to say the least. For the record, I never went without what I needed. I merely give you my background to paint you a picture. I would say I had a pretty common childhood. I played soccer and was a cheerleader, had slumber parties, and a basketball goal in the driveway. I did chores, earned an allowance, and got my first real job at 16. After I graduated from Alvarado High School (if you blink, you will miss my hometown), I followed suit and went to college.
When I stepped onto the hallowed grounds of Tarleton State University, I began to notice how vastly different someone’s lifestyle could be. Even then, I still never really “compared”, I just noticed. Probably because I was too busy being a college freshman (I will let you use your imagination on that one).
I would say my desire to “Keep Up With The Joneses” began rearing its ugly head about the time I stepped in to corporate America. I had just started working as my husband’s assistant in Downtown Fort Worth (that may have been nepotism at its finest, but hey, we couldn’t afford to pay anyone else and I’m not too hard on the eyes). The dress attire for his office was business professional; and as someone freshly out of college, I didn’t own one professional thing. My first day on the job, I wore – what I thought at the time was perfectly acceptable – a black, v-neck, finger tipped length Forever 21 dress and scuffed up three-year old high heels. You read that right. (Did I mention my husband works in the financial industry? Oh the irony.) A few months later, the main office decided to hire me on to do some part-time work for them. That’s when I noticed her. Head-to-toe Banana Republic, designer bag with the matching shoes, partnered with a fresh manicure and perfectly kept hair. (#jealous) From the outside looking in, she appeared to have it all, and I wanted it.
When it came time for my first raise, it was accompanied with a clothing allowance (#winning). As I walked out of Express (the first time I have ever been able to purchase anything in that store), I felt like new woman! Cloud 9 was definitely calling my name. I was unbelievably thrilled – yet…I still wanted more.
When JD and I embarked upon this thing called life, we were broke. I’m talking, sell your clothes to consignment shops, trade in movies and books, visiting pawn shops kind of broke. Our routine dinners consisted of hamburger helper, frozen pizza, and anything that could be tossed in to the microwave. We lived in a 600 square foot one bedroom apartment and shared a car. Yet, I never felt more proud of ourselves, because we were making it on our own.
October 23 and 24, 2011 – a year and a half after we had been living together, we gave our lives to Jesus. Which was truly an awesome adventure in itself! One to be shared at a later date. We “hit the ground running” as Christians and God wasted no time in getting out his shears and pruning our lives (we had no idea what a mess we were). One of our first areas of business, was getting our financial house in order. During this time, I feel like my sinful nature of coveting took a bit of a backseat, because I was too busy delving in to this new season of my life. That is not say it didn’t resurface from time to time, but it was subdued none-the-less.
Now let’s hop in to my blogging delorean, and fast forward to a few weeks ago.
Blogging. I love it. I have always enjoyed writing; whether it be in a journal, on the internet, or simply a handwritten note. I guess it coincides with my long-lost love for reading. Now that I have two tiny humans to take care of, my downtime is often filled with things like doing laundry, showering, and stuffing my face with whatever is left over in the fridge. By the time I even think about reading, I would rather be curling up with my pillow. Recently, my desire to blog has been rekindled and has provided me a porthole to channel my personal needs for finding some sort of identity, aside from being a mommy. Lucky me, this has proven to be an outlet for many others – some of which are very close friends. About a week in to my mommy blogging adventure, there it was, none other than my long-time adversary, coveting. Instead of getting excited for my friend’s advancement, I was getting jealous. Why should I be jealous? This wasn’t a competition; this was supposed to be a way to reclaim our independence!
Thankfully, now that I am a little further in my journey with Christ, I can recognize these feelings and work on putting them to rest just as quickly as they spring up. The solution: confession.
As soon as that green-eyed monster appeared, I immediately told my husband. I confide everything in him and seeing as he is one of the two most logically people in my life, I knew he would give me the good swift kick in the pants that I needed. After our discussion, I directly went to my phone and reached out to the second most logical person in life, my friend. The same friend that I was feeling jealous of. It was like I had a bad case of verbal diarrhea – I laid it all out there. I had no choice. The best defense against a thing like coveting, is good old fashioned honest confession. After I shared what was on my heart, I instantly felt relief. As if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
You see, a thing like coveting knows no bounds. It can transcend through material items, all the way to the intangible. So that night after I had laid it all out there on the line, I referred to my usual routine of hashing it out with God. One of my favorite things to do during prayer, is asking The Lord to give me some sort of scripture to meditate on. I may not always get what I think I’m looking for, but some way or another The Holy Spirit downloads something in to my heart. A few weeks ago I shared how God gave me Joshua 1:9 the day we were scheduled to be induced with Emmett. That is a piece of scripture that I have had memorized for years. So that night when God clearly gave my Joshua 1:8, I was a little confused. I can honestly say that I had no idea what Joshua 1:8 said. I actually thought that I made it up, that The Holy Spirit didn’t really give me that scripture. I assumed that verse had popped in to my head, because I had just shared with the masses my experience with our second born only but a week prior.
After my confusion, guess what I did? Rolled over and went to sleep. That’s right, I chalked up my conversation with God as something I had imagined. Apparently that is not what God wanted me to do, because that entire night I was restless. Finely, around 4:00am, I got out my phone and pulled up the scripture.
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Joshua 1:8 NIV
BAM. It could not have been more clear. It was like God was saying, “Sweet sweet Amber, focus on you. Be grateful for what I have given you and realize that your path is not the same as others. Focus on you, live by my Word and I will take care of you.” Well alright then.
My reason for sharing my personal history with you, all the way to present day, is so you can understand that I have seen high highs and low lows; and unlike our friend Paul, I have not been content in whatever my circumstances. But today, I would like to start brand new. I am sharing my flaws so that you can hold me accountable. I am sharing my short comings so that you can relate. So that you know you are not in this alone. So let’s make a stand and confess our “problem areas”. Let’s take the power out of our faults!
And in the meantime…let’s have another cup of coffee, relax, and take comfort in who we are and what we have.
cover photo source: The Career Psychologist