Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Struggle for Contentment

Paint the kitchen cabinets, add some crown molding in the bedroom, look into acrylic tub liners, install new siding out front, and what about a privacy fence in the backyard? Welcome to just a few of the many thoughts running through my head on any given afternoon. I wish that I could say that my mind is mostly occupied with godly, edifying musings, but my sinful nature has a tendency to lead me down the lane of discontent. We all know what a dangerous road that is.

As a stay-at-home mom, I equate our house to my "office". I want it to be both beautiful and functional, maximized for ease of daily living as well as a wonderful haven for entertaining and making cozy memories with my family. Looking at everything objectively, our house is great and has been a blessing to us, since we bought it right at the time of our marriage when my husband's income was a lot less than it is now. We've never had to struggle to make a mortgage payment for which I am truly thankful. However, the monster of discontent sometimes rears its ugly head and whispers in my ear, "Get out of this place, get something new, grander, perfect...you can afford it, you deserve it, your life will be better!" We've all had moments of displeasure when the thought of something new or different seems to be just the ticket to remedying our problems. However, the Bible is very clear on the solution to all of our earthly, sinful dilemmas - Jesus is the way! While reading a wonderful book by Donna Otto called The Stay-at-Home Mom, I was both inspired and convicted when Donna shared the following anecdote in a chapter about saving money at home:

In 1981, David and I moved into the house we're living in now. The living room and dining room were carpeted with a rather low-quality celery-green carpet. Celery green doesn't go very well with most of our furnishings. But we knew this was the house the Lord wanted for us, so we had to deal with the carpet.

It would've been nice to buy new carpet, but it wasn't in the budget. So I immediately called the carpet-man and found that I could have the carpet dyed for about $200. We'd dyed carpets before, so I knew it would stretch the life of the carpet. So we dyed our celery-green carpet charcoal gray.

Seven years later our gray carpet was sun-streaked and faded. There were dark spots where the furniture had been sitting. The living room had survived one flood (in Arizona!), and the water-damaged carpet was literally falling apart.

We looked at our budget and decided there was no way we could afford to buy new carpet. I was disappointed because the room was a bit of an embarrassment. Yet I was absolutely determined to trust God for my carpet, and be content with what I had. It wasn't easy.

As wives, we put ourselves in a very precarious place. We want so many things, and when we're home all day we tend to see the things we want even more clearly. We are quick to think how nice it would be to have a little piece of fabric for this room or a new chair or a bedspread in the master bedroom. It's easy to become discontent. I hadsome of those feelings about my carpet. But I earnestly asked the Lord to give me a heart of contentment and gratitude for the many things He had given me and to help me wait patiently for the opportunity to purchase new carpet.

My prayer was answered in a most unusual way. After I had prayed about my carpet for almost 18 months, two decorator friends came to me and asked if they could help me spruce up the house a little by rearranging some of the furniture and moving some wall decorations around. I was delighted. Soon they began moving things around - and not just one or two pieces.

Our family room became the dining room, and the dining room is now a library. A sofa was moved from the living room to the master bedroom. Overall, a wonderful new look came over our house without my spending a dime. I was most grateful for this gracious gift.

At the same time this was going on, a dear sister in our church family was moving into another home, which happened to be much larger than ours. My decorator friends discovered that she was going to replace the carpet in her new home, a carpet that was in wonderful condition except for a few slight stains.

You guessed it. God in His providence allowed this dear sister to give us her used carpet. I discovered the carpet's color the day it was installed: white - perfect, of course! I was most grateful for God's provision of that carpet.

Something else wonderful happened. Kim was a young woman who was living with us for a year as our guest in order to get her finances in order before getting her own place. The last month she lived with us was the month the carpet was installed. She not only saw the answer to my prayer unfold, she was part of it. Her financial counselor told her to make a one-month payment to use before she moved into her new apartment complex to help her adjust her new expenses. The money she gave us paid for the installation of our free carpet and covered most of the cost of cleaning it. Our out-of-pocket expense for the carpet was just $15. It took nine years to get our carpet, but God is faithful.

How great is our God! Not only because of the steadfast care that he gives to us, but also because we find peace and contentment in knowing that he desires nothing more than to love and provide for us. I've been planning to share this passage from Donna's book for awhile now and hope that you guys are blessed by it. Check out her book if you can - it's both inspiring and practical for women who are stay-at-home mothers or want to be.

God bless you today and may the Lord's peace, provision and love overflow in all that you do!