When I was fresh out of my parents house about 12 years ago, I had big dreams of having a beautiful house, a nice car, and fancy furnishings. I figured since my parents had all those things, it was only natural that I’d have them too. Immediately.
What I didn’t realize at that time was how much work, and even character building, went into attaining them.
Ten years ago, I remember getting into a rut of being dissatisfied with everything. At that time, I didn’t have my dream career, and my very real worry was if my car was going to get me to work and back, or if it would leave me stranded yet again. I was drowning in debt, and doing everything possible to not sink deeper. Looking at some of our peers during that time was simply discouraging – they seemed to be light-years ahead of us with their beautiful homes and fancy vehicles.
But what I learned is that we have the choice to embrace what we have and make the most of the journey.
In Exodus 20:17, we’re commanded not to desire what our friends have. This commandment says,
“You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”
What caught me off guard was the part where it says, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. I was doing fine at not desiring my girlfriend’s husband, or her servants or livestock (because she didn’t have any). But that last bit…?
Why? Why would God command us not to desire what our friends have? The answer is pretty interesting the more you think about it. If you don’t have something you want, what does that lead to? Disappointment. Ungratefulness. Unhappiness. Resentment. Bitterness. Anger. Contempt.
The fruit of coveting your neighbors things goes downhill fast. None of it is good, for you or anyone else.
But what if we were thankful?
One of my most memorable rentals was in this small community of town houses in Fort Collins, Colorado. Off the second bedroom, we had this teeny, tiny balcony with just enough room for two little chairs. The view was not desirable, as it looked out onto a busy street. You couldn’t even see the mountains. It was kind of noisy and busy. Other people in this community hardly used theirs because of these reasons. You could pass it off as useless.
But as I chose thankfulness, I saw something different…
It was walled-in on three sides, making it a safe, private place. Although it looked out over a busy street, it didn’t look into anyone’s back yard or windows. We got the beautiful morning sun in the summer, and it was cool in the afternoons and evenings. It had a roof so I could sit out and enjoy the rain. I even added a cute little flower box to the railing so I can grow some of my favorite flowers. And the best part of it all, Luke built me a custom fit L-shaped balcony couch, to which I added comfy cushions and pillows.
It became a safe haven for me during the time that we lived there. I spent hours out there reading and journaling. I loved every bit of it, and to this day it remains one of my most favorite outdoor spaces.
I say all this to encourage you to look at your life, and make the most of what you have – get creative and turn it into something you love. Don’t be in a hurry to have it all. Learn to live with less. These hard fought lessons will carry through the rest of your life.
Begin to see things through eyes of thankfulness. Your dream career won’t be the key to your happiness. And although a new car will solve some problems, it will still break down. But right now, use this time to appreciate the little things that make life so rich.
This is how you can have it all, without having it all.