We have lived in our house for 14 years this summer.
Our little home was built in 1972 and is 1148 square feet. It has gone from being more than enough for newlyweds taking the big step of home ownership (being officially grown up), to being a bit snug, 14 years and FIVE babies later.
Our house has seen our family grow and mature in many different ways.
Surprisingly, I think the biggest growth hasn’t been in our children, but mine.
I have struggled with contentment for most of my life. I think many of us in the western world do, because in our land of opportunity we have the privilege of working harder to “get more” and achieve the “American Dream”.
It’s something we expect; MORE.
Everywhere we look we’re told we should have more. One look at Times Square in New York and we can see all these things we MUST HAVE and that we CAN HAVE, plastered on every flashing billboard on every corner… if we have enough money… or enough of a credit line.
And this extends to where and how we live too. We live in a very affluent part of the country. The average income on the Eastside of Seattle is $95,000 per year. The average starting salary in 2012 at Microsoft, the biggest employer in our region, was $110,000. TO START. (Source: http://www.seattlemag.com/article/eastside-express-lane-american-dream).
That is crazy.
So for those of us who live in this land of opportunity it would seem that we should be satisfied. We can get pretty much whatever we want, right? The amount of wealth we experience here is incomparable to anywhere else in the world. There are countries and regions where the monthly income is less than $30/month. Yet the people who have so little seem to have something the wealthy in our western world do not: JOY. CONTENTMENT. Two things that, here in the western world, have people struggling with all of their might to find, whether it be through things or medications or occupations.
I have struggled so much with both joy and contentment. I know in my heart that true joy doesn’t come from things, but from Christ, yet I wrestle so much with believing it since our world seems to preach against that fact on a constant basis.
I struggle with what people (the wealthier masses in our area) think when they come to our tiny house. Will their opinion of us, of ME change? Will they value me less if I don’t have as much as they do? Will they think we’re *gasp* poor?! Will they not want to be our friends if we don’t have what they do?
These are the thoughts have crossed my mind many times. I’d never say them out loud, of course, because then what would people think of THAT?! “HOW VAIN!” or “that’s pathetic!” Well, I’m being honest. And honestly, I AM a little pathetic and vain at times.
But here’s the thing: I’m tired of wondering what others might think.
I love my little house. I love that all five of my children have spent their young years here. I LOVE our community. I am thankful for our location. I love that God has provided us with a roof over our heads and enough beds for each of us to sleep in, even if not everyone chooses to stay in their own each night.
Do I want a bigger house someday? Yes. I’d love for our family to have room to grow and for us to be able to welcome others to hour home year-round, not just during the summertime when we can eat outside (our dining table only seats six so when we have company we eat in shifts).
But today I am choosing to love where I live. I’m choosing gratitude for what God has provided for us rather than throwing a fit that I don’t have as much stuff as I think I “deserve” (which is a whole other confessional post).
I am going to enjoy every second of the blessing of the neighborhood we live in; that our children can ride their bikes to their friends’ houses. That we have an “open door” policy for our kids’ friends: you want to come over? The door’s open!
In this world where competition is so fierce and we compare ourselves, our things and our lifestyles with those around us, I am thankful that we have the privilege of having a “Come as you are” house. No frills or gimmicks are necessary to make us love you more. You’re welcome here. No pretense.
I think I’m learning that when I love where I live, others will too. It’s not an issue of being proud of my things, but filling our house with love and letting that love overflow and pour out onto others. If I’m too busy trying to reach for what I don’t have, what enjoyment am I missing out on that I DO have?
So there you have it. I love where I live. I am thankful for what we’ve been given. I’m choosing contentment over competition.
How about you?