Overcoming Home Envy
I live in an area where people just keep building houses, bigger and bigger all the time. When we first moved to our current home, I could look out my window and see nothing but cornfields. Now, I see nothing but houses. It makes me sad.
My husband is a real estate broker and appraiser. He is always astonished at how much people will spend to build giant McMansions that they don’t really need. It’s not unusual for a family of four to sell their 2000 square foot home to build a 3500 square foot home. People buy brand new homes and then tear out the laminate countertops because they want granite, or replace the kitchen cabinets simply because they’re oak, instead of the trendier maple or cherry. My husband is shocked at what people throw away, because in their minds, it’s just not good enough.
My question is, why can’t we all just be happy with what we have?
I used to suffer from home envy. I thought that I was somehow inadequate because I didn’t have a huge house with fancy amenities. However, as I became stronger in my Christian faith, I soon realized that my home, though small, is the Lord’s perfect provision for me, and instead of whining about it, I should be thankful for His blessings. Furthermore, the Lord doesn’t care about what I have. He cares about what’s in my heart.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NIV, Matthew 6:19-21)
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV, Matthew 6:24-25, 31-33)
“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (NIV, Matthew 16:26)
“People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (NIV, 1 Timothy 6:9-11)
I believe that people who are never satisfied with what they have are really struggling with self-esteem issues. They don’t feel important, and they think that if they have the latest and greatest, biggest and best, they will feel good about themselves. They’re looking for the answers in all of the wrong places. Each time they acquire something new, any newfound happiness is fleeting, and soon they will sink even lower than before. Money and possessions will never bring lasting happiness–a relationship with Jesus Christ will.
Before we moved here, we lived in a small town where my husband had lived his entire life, and people had certain (usually erroneous) perceptions about us. My husband had been in business there for 25 years, and at that time, we still owned a lot of rental real estate. One Saturday afternoon, when Bee was still a baby, I was looking at some baby clothes at a local garage sale. A woman I didn’t even know came up to me and said, “Why are you buying clothes at a garage sale? You can certainly afford to buy new clothes for your baby.”
I was offended. This woman was very rude, and clearly she was judging me. Though she knew absolutely nothing about my financial situation, she had decided that I was “rich,” and therefore had no business at a garage sale. For a long time, I turned that conversation over and over in my mind, trying to figure out why she would say something like that to me. I eventually realized that she was just really unhappy with her own life, and it made her feel better to criticize me. My husband and I had a lot of stuff, and she probably thought that more stuff would solve all of her problems. How sad that she was so misguided. She would probably be shocked to learn that we spent the next 5 years trying to get rid of our stuff, because it made us completely miserable.
Maybe we could afford to buy our kids brand new clothes, or build a new house, or whatever—but we choose not to. We have learned to be happy and content, right where we are, and for that reason, we are rich.