Do you sometimes find yourself dissatisfied with your home? There are many areas in our lives that if not careful, we find ourselves falling into the comparison trap or maybe because we are experiencing genuinely difficult life circumstances, it is really easy to find ourselves feeling discontented.
Without meaning to, we can lose the joy and enjoyment of our home when we focus too much on its imperfections. While we want our home to be the place of rest and comfort, it can be that instead we look around and see a reminder of all that isn’t quite right. When I was a younger wife and mother sometimes that is what would temporarily happen to me. I have since learned that I can choose to be joyful and content with the home I have.
For many years now, it has been on my heart that it is important to learn to be content. It was important to me in raising my children that they learn to be content too. Because I feel I could write a book on my journey of learning to be content; for the sake of this blog post not being ridiculously long, I will confine my thoughts on contentment this week to being content with the home you have.
You may hope to live in a better or more nicely furnished home at some point in the future, but for now, until you do, let’s ponder learning to be content in the home you currently have, however small or sparsely furnished it is, or whatever imperfections your home has.
We tend to think of contentment as being something that we feel when circumstances in our life are good. When all is well. When we have most of what we want. But Paul said, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what is it to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” * This last verse has been used out of context so frequently I hesitated to include it. I don’t think the “everything” refers to anything we might think of, but I think my use is an accurate application.
Even before I was a stay at home mom, when we were a two income family, we’ve never had lots of money to spend on furnishings, etc. We went from being two college students, to paying off our car so that when we did have a baby I could stay at home. While paying off our car we started spending money for doctor bills when we went through a period of infertility issues to try to find out why having a baby wasn’t just happening.
Then we became a one income family. When I think of what we lived on when we first had just one baby, I wonder how we ever did it. Of course this was before such expenses as cell phones and wifi. As the kids got older we chose to prioritize their activities and things we could do together as a family over new furnishings or other things for our home.
For all wives and mothers, but especially for stay at home moms, our home is where we spend a lot of time. It seems almost instinctual, that desire all women seem to have that makes them want to make their home beautiful. The desire to make our homes comfortable and lovely is, I think, a God-given one, but with all things we have a tendency to excess or to pervert what is intended to be a good and right thing.
It’s easy to want what others have and sometimes that makes it harder to be satisfied with what we have. It doesn’t help that these days we have Instagram and blogs and magazines and books that make us drool over pretty homes and lush yards and we want our homes to look like those. For the most part, probably even those homes don’t look as perfect as the photo all the time. I enjoy looking at all of those pretty things for inspiration and ideas for my home; but if we aren’t careful we are temped to spend money we shouldn’t or to feel dissatisfied with our home.
It isn’t wrong to want our homes to be lovely, but what if we don’t have money to spend on renovations, updates and all sorts of pretty things? Well, then, we are better off if we learn to be content with we have and what we can do.
Because we haven’t had a lot to spend on decorating I have gotten to be a pro at hunting down a good bargain at regular stores, thrift stores; I love chasing down a good bargain!
I’ve even been known to pick up a thing or two beside the road, which my husband really hates. I’ve tried to tell him it’s an “in” thing to do right now. Like, they purposefully do it on tv shows! He still isn’t a fan. But sometimes you find some fabulous things really cheap or by the side of the road! I will keep trying to convert him to my way of thinking.
Have you ever seen the movie, “Overboard”? ** I love that movie! It’s one of my favorites. It was never a big hit at the box office, but it’s just a feel good and funny movie. I’m not one to watch movies over and over, but this one continues to make me laugh. My sister Debbie and I have both seen it tons of times. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, you need to! It comes on tv pretty regularly.
One thing I think about every single time I see the movie is their home. Without telling you too much if you haven’t seen it, Goldie Hawn is initially appalled (and rightly so) at the home that Kurt Russell lives in with his boys. It’s a complete dump. Seemingly unredeemable without a bulldozer. But, after Goldie is there a while and puts her womanly charm to work, the house begins to resemble a cozy home. It is cleaned, she covers the ratty furniture with quilts, and with a little love the house feels like a warm and inviting home. The house is still old. All the furnishings are still very old and out of style and yet the home seems cozy and loved.
This is of course a movie; but I think there’s much about that situation that rings true in real life. The finest of furnishings aren’t required to make our house a home where everyone feels comfortable, welcome and cozy. A place that people like to be.
No matter where we have lived, I’ve loved making our house feel like “home”. Though the reasons why have changed over the years, I’ve never had unlimited amounts (or even what many would consider reasonable amounts) of money to furnish and fix up our home.
Ya’ll we don’t live in a tent; we have a nice home. But like most women, I could make you a list a mile long of all the things I would love to do to update our home, to make it prettier, to make it more comfortable (we need new furniture and a new mattress) and yet I can truthfully say, I love our home.
Learning to be content is something we can learn.
When I was a younger wife and mother I didn’t realize how it hurt my husband’s feelings when he felt he couldn’t buy us everything we wanted. I never meant expressing what I wanted for our home to make him feel that way. I didn’t even know it did for a while. I try to be more careful now about the way I say things.
My husband works hard for our family and is willing to sacrifice things he would enjoy so that I can be at home. I never want to make him feel what he is doing as a provider isn’t good enough. I was making him feel that way, but I didn’t mean to.
The first step in learning to be content is to be genuinely thankful for what we already have.
Several years ago I read Katie Davis’ blog and later her book, “Kisses From Katie“. It was in reading Katie’s blog that I was reminded what a luxury it truly is that I can have a hot shower or bath anytime that I want it, and step out onto tile that is reasonably clean (not a dirt floor) and only occasionally do I not have electricity. I can’t tell you how often I think of this as I step from the hot shower onto a soft, dry rug. It helps keeps in perspective for me that everything I want for our home is just that: want, not need.
None of the things I want are wrong. They aren’t even extravagant. But it is wrong when I allow myself to be discontented (ongoing) instead of thankful and content with what I have.
For the most part I am content, and what is a temptation for me might not be the same as what leads you to feel discontented. While learning to be content gets easier over time, it isn’t a decision you make and then instantly and permanently feel content with your home. Here a few things that I find helpful:
- trying not to concentrate on too many areas of my home at one time (being content to see progress in that one area I’m currently focused on)
- prioritizing projects or rooms to work on (one at a time)
- repurposing objects (shopping other rooms in my home) to use them in a new way to freshen things up spending little or no money. I do this A LOT!
- accepting that the change I can make will be slow….this one is hardest for me
- learning to DIY – there are many decorative projects you can make for much less than you can buy them pre-made.
- reminding myself that although I greatly enjoy decorating my home, none of the things I want are necessities
Ultimately, I don’t think it honors God when I have all I need and yet I’m unsatisfied. We can choose to have thankful hearts and learn to be patient. It’s hard at times, but we can do it.
As women, we are probably always going to have that next project or home improvement in mind. Let’s just set our hearts and minds to be content with what we have along the way.
Being content with the home we have does two good things for us. 1) Our thankfulness for what we have honors God and 2) We don’t lose our joy over something we can’t change at the moment.
Let’s choose to learn to be content. Let’s choose joy.
I hope you’re having a great week!
*Here’s a link to an article I found that I thought did a good job discussing the context of this much misused Bible verse.
**There is one scene in the beginning of the movie with Goldie Hawn in a revealing swim suit (tv version doesn’t show her whole behind) and later some other women in bikinis.