Yesterday, a contractor came to our house to give us an estimate for laying wood flooring. Our carpet is near shot and its due time. As he talked through our options, he began to tell us what improvements we should make to our kitchen too. He suggested granite counters, a tile back splash, paint for the island, new lighting fixtures, refinished ceilings, and on and on. He spoke to us as if we were unaware of the trends. I had mixed emotions. I felt insulted and disgusted. This man didn’t know that I obsess about interior design on Pinterest. I have scoured house magazines. I’ve toured model homes for the pure joy of it, and I’ve toured historical homes for classic style ideas too. Does our home décor reflect this? No. But I am fully aware of the trends and am a fan of historical architecture. He didn’t know that I war within myself to not get sucked into the materialism of it all.
I felt angered. Before he left, he had given us ideas and estimates about redoing our whole kitchen, deck, driveway, and lastly, what we asked for, flooring. The cost could easily add up to over half of what we paid for our house. He left us feeling “less than.”
I need new floors, but I want a house overhaul!
My thoughts began to wander, as they often do when a clash of ideals appears. I thought about Huguette Clark, the copper mine heiress, who chose to live out her last twenty years in a hospital, although healthy, for the sake of needing human interaction. Her amazingly beautiful mansions were maintained and unvisited for over forty years. She didn’t need marble floors, she needed love. I think about the book, “House Lust” by Daniel McGinn. He writes about the behaviors that drove the real estate boom in the early 2000s and its crash. He also writes about what’s going on in the American psyche and how we strive for “the look.” I see this attitude everyday as I walk the malls shopping for customers, and I have to admit I’m guilty. I want that look too! I feel my greedy, covetous side conflicting with my common sense and spiritual side.
Do I need this or do I want this?
I strongly believe the struggle with credit and debt would not be what it is in our society if we sought out what we need instead of what we want. I’m preaching to myself so if you’re feeling a pang of guilt, it’s not coming from me.
There’s nothing wrong with having a beautiful house. There’s nothing wrong with having lovely things. The problem exists when we dream of these things until we obsess and as we think on these things, we feel cheated because we don’t have them.
Exodus 20:17 says, “Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, servant, ox or donkey (car or lawn mower), or anything else your neighbor owns.”
Obviously, this issue has been around awhile if God addressed it in the Ten Commandments. Humans naturally want to be king of the hill. We do not want to be outdone. You could even trace this back to Cain and Abel. Cain didn’t want to be outdone by Abel, and he let his jealousy overcome him.
I am challenging myself to see my blessings, instead of my lack. I’m curious, am I the only one who struggles with these feelings?
Lord, thank you. Thank you for the roof over my head, the clothing on my back and the food that I eat. Thank you for my precious family, the friends I am blessed with, and the beautiful nature around me. Lord, thank you for the extras, everything above and beyond these things. May I fix my eyes on you and may my heart be filled with your joy. Amen.