Saturday, August 8, 2009

Discontent . . . It is all in the comparison

I picked my daughter up from her friend’s house. I had been to the house before, but I had never gone beyond the front door. This time, however, the mother was in the kitchen and called for me to come back to where she was.

Big mistake.

I walked in to the most wonderful, beautiful, spacious party holding kitchen/family room/dining room, combo I had ever seen. I was awestruck and instantly turned green from my hair roots to my toes nails. It has been a long time since I have coveted anything material. We have been blessed with a lot, and frankly, I don’t have a lot of material wants anyway, so I have been very happy with my life, . . . but in a short moment that changed.

Perhaps the envy arrow would not have struck so forcefully, had I not been in the process of planning a large party to be held at my house and wondering where I would sit everyone for the meal. I wanted all the guests to be in the same room, but to do so would require the removal of much of my furniture and we would still be cramped. So when I stood in a room that was “party perfect” I was deeply jealous.

When I returned to my own house, I noticed for the first time how cramped it was, how my kitchen was not very functional, how less ornate my decorations were . . .

It was interesting to me that just a half hour before, I had loved my house and now I was unhappy with everything in it. And the only difference was I had something to compare it to. I was reminded of a book I read several years back called “Sister Carrie”. Carrie was born in poverty and died in wealth, but was never happy. Although she worked hard in her life and accomplished much, the moment she achieved a level of accomplishment, she would see that someone had more than she did, and she would be discontent once again. She proved true the saying “You can never have enough of the things that don’t satisfy.” So here I was, being Carrie.

It struck me how my discontent was solely the result of comparison. I was happy until I saw there was something much better out there. And since there will always be something better, I have decided the cure to being discontent is simply to be grateful.

I love a comment Dawn at “Momza’s House” once wrote on my blog. It said, “A heart filled with gratitude leaves little room for want.” How true that is. And truthfully, being unhappy over a lack of party space does seem a bit (a lot) shallow—especially when I have been blessed with so much. And so I am filling my heart with gratitude—gratitude for my family, fairly decent good health, and the greatest gift—the gospel, which gives purpose and peace to my life and teaches me that those things that are really important—my husband and children—can be with me forever.

And that is what brings the most . . . joy to my journey.

9 comments:

Christina said...

Isn't that the truth! I've been content with our yard and happy with what we did with it, given our limited resources, but now our neighbor's are putting in theirs and they are spending a lot of money and putting in grass underneath the forested part of their yard and I'm thinking, "Oh, I wish we had been able to afford to extend our grass farther back . . ." =P

By the way, I think your home is beautiful and will be a lovely venue for any party!

Carolyn said...

I know how you feel. Just when you think you've stopped coveting then wham it hits you over the head.

Momza said...

So I was reading your thoughts, and thinking to myself how grateful I am for your generous attitude in sharing this with us...and then to see that I've somehow said something that touched you amazed me. We all learn so much from each other...thank you for teaching ME today.

Dave and Camille said...

Glad to see you've realized that you live the good life ;) I had to laugh at the irony of your post though - last night when Dave and I were coming home we were talking about being materialistic and we both commented on how nice it is that you guys aren't materialistic in the least and how you focus on helping others instead of furthering yourselves... then I wake up and read this post. Too funny! :)

Xazmin said...

Love it. I often feel inferior when I see the homes of others. I'm just not a great homemaker, and I always want my homes to be as nice as those of my friends.

It is silly, in the grand scheme of things...thanks for this post!

the Eggett's said...

So true once again! Thanks for the reminder!

Terri said...

Thanks as always for your post. it is so true that being grateful for our blessings is the source of happiness. But sometimes I just think wanting something beautiful is hardwired into the female. I had a friend tell me once that she believes that when we signed the contract in heaven about choosing to be the female species, we just saw the part about having babies and we signed up without reading all the fine print. I am just learning as I go along in life about what all the fine print was about. I think it went beyond the monthly physical distress and just included a whole bunch of stuff about being obsessed with the beauty we see around us. I have often mused that when Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden, Eve continued to want the earth to be as beautiful as the garden, and we as her daughters suffer the same obsession.

I always want someone else's hair. What you experienced upon seeing that kitchen is what I have been going through lately when I see pretty thick beautiful hair. UGH! Some of this is just hardwired into the contract.

Faith said...

Thanks for sharing an enlightening message and reminder.

Marilyn said...

Great message. I know we have all "been there." My prayers that are filled with gratitude only are some of my most spiritual ones. We all need to be reminded occasionally!