My husband and I bought a house last year. Immediately, I wanted it to be in pristine condition with all the greatest furniture and a cohesive theme throughout. The problem was, we had bought a house, so money was tight. I’ve struggled with the fact that we couldn’t decorate it after my dreams for a long time, but the other day, as I contemplated this, I felt the spirit whisper, “It’s okay that your house doesn’t look exactly like you want it to. You’re young and living on a budget. Enjoy what you do have.”
We all know the saying of “keeping up with the Joneses.” We all want our stuff to be as cool and great as our neighbor’s stuff. We’ve made some great young couple friends in our neighborhood, and a lot of them have been able to decorate their homes in the perfect, beautiful, Pinterest way. We have been fortunate enough to buy some staple items, but I am still relying on frames I bought before we were married and Ikea plant pots from my days in a college dorm. Sometimes I get so jealous when I walk into our friends’ house that looks like Joanne Gaines herself decorated it. However, when I think about it, I realize that those friends, while our same age, don’t have kids, and thus aren’t really in our same situation. Both the husband and wife are working, so they have double the income of us! Obviously, we will not be able to afford the same lifestyle that they have. When I remember that, I feel better, and I feel gratitude that I don’t have to work and can instead stay home with my adorable baby boy every day.
But a house and decorations are one thing. Probably a lot of you reading don’t even own a home yet. So what can you learn from my experience? Well, in the broadest term, we are talking about coveting. Which, we all know, goes against one of the Ten Commandments. To me, the word covet is such a strong word. I don’t often (if ever) think that I’m coveting something. I don’t walk into someone’s house and think, “Oh, I COVET that couch you have!” It’s more of that small bite of jealousy—that unkind thought you have about why or how someone can afford something. Even just the longing to be out of the stage of life you’re in and be in that person’s stage of life. Their life is so glorious and fun. I’m stuck here writing a paper or working at Café Rio or living in this dreaded place. My life is so ugly. I’m so ugly. Why are they so pretty? Why do they have so much fun?
In the words of President Ucthdorf: “STOP IT.”
Comparing our have-nots with other’s haves is a sure road to failure. It’s a road to depression and a road straight into the devil’s hands. He wants us to be miserable like him, and what better way to do that then to have us be ungrateful for what we have? We were recently watching “Parks and Rec,” and a character’s therapist told him that when he got overwhelmed, he needed to think of three good things in the world. And while this was simply for comic purposes in the episode, I think it’s actually a really good practice. Next time you find yourself envious of somebody’s haves, stop and say out loud three things you have that you are thankful for. Be creative. Make them different. Make them sincere. I know that as you practice this, your life will become full of your own haves, and you’ll be far happier.