Lessons from my couch

So far this week has not been the creative flurry I envisioned. Somehow that nasty practical side of me won out and I’ve prepared our tax returns. Although not fun, I am relieved to have them done, 1 federal, 2 states, 1 local. Makes me long for the days when we lived in Nashville and all I had to prepare was a federal return.

Now about our couch, I have not cared for the appearance of it for some time. It has given us a good 14 years of service and has held up well. It is still quite comfortable for a 14 year old couch, but at some point along the way, it became ugly. The colors in the couch have changed with the grime over the years, and it is becoming threadworn. But God has used this couch to teach me some very important lessons.

When I began to dislike this couch, I went shopping in my mind. We didn’t have the money for a new couch, but I had written off the value of what we had and focused on the prize, a new couch. This was at least 5 years ago. Many other expenses were more pressing and couch replacement was not a priority with rest of my family. God at that time showed me the choice I had to make, to either be content and grateful for the comfortable couch we had, or to be negative and critical. Contentment won out and the couch became lovely in my eyes again.

Through this journey of contentment of which I sometimes strayed, I also realized the value of words directed even towards objects. If my son made a comment about the threads coming loose from the cushions and I bad-mouthed the couch, he would latch on to this negative attitude and dislike the couch. Now this could work to my advantage right? I could get the whole family to hate the couch and want a new one, but this wasn’t what God directed me to do. When comments were made about the general wear and tear, instead words of thankfulness were bestowed upon the couch for its many years of good and comfy service. Negative attitudes towards objects lead to negative attitudes about more objects, people, situations. It spirals downward.

God also shut my nagging mouth. I did voice my desire for a new couch, and yes, I probably did mention it more than necessary, but my intent was never to sway anyone else or to annoy my husband enough that he would give in a buy me a couch. Had I nagged, I know my words would have had the opposite effect on my husband’s ears. We’re both stubborn that way. It was better for me to be silent and wait. I did try unsuccessfully to save up the money for a new couch several times, and was working on that goal once again. I think I might have succeeded this time, but it would have taken me at least another year.

Pride was also an issue concerning this couch. As we would welcome people into our home, I would think of their internal response to our repulsive couch (it always became uglier to me when company was around). My thoughts: “They probably think we have no taste in decorating, or I’m sure they don’t want to sit on that ugly thing.” And we did have a guitar teacher that asked that we bring out chairs rather than sit on the couch. Him being from a wealthy part of town, I have always thought he preferred the chairs because of the appearance of the couch. But the issue with pride, God always squashed that too. First He would remind me that I really don’t care how other people’s couches look, nor do I judge them by their couches. Why should I then be concerned about their opinion of my couch? Then He would remind of the importance of building relationships in my home vs. keeping people out because my couch is ugly.

And let’s not forget patience. By not immediately satisfying my American consumer desires, I learned patience. I could have put the purchase on a credit card, or set up a payment plan to purchase a new couch. By waiting, I learned that self-gratification does not bring the same joy as patience. (And the only way to learn this is to wait.) I knew that I would eventially have a new couch. I also knew that the timing would be right. I just didn’t know when. Lessons in patience have allowed me to look at the bigger picture of life, even past my own blip of a life, to the reverberations of my choices extending for years to come. I don’t know how waiting for a couch will affect the future of mankind, but I do know that my kids have learned that they don’t have to have the perfect living room set to be happy.

To my suprise and delight, my husband took me couch shopping yesterday. He had funds set aside for another purpose which he spent on my desires intead. The beauty of it all has nothing to do with money, but rather that he wanted to give. Shopping is quite torturous to him, so not only was he giving to me monetarily, but he was sacrificing his time in a big way. To my delight, we found a beautiful, comfortable couch on sale, and a very cute little chair, for less than I imagined we would spend on a couch alone. We have the chair in our living room to replace the dog chewed chair, and the couch will be in my home in a couple weeks! (I’ll post pictures then.)

Contentment worked its way through to all aspects, my thoughts, my actions, my words. It permeated throughout all areas of my life. Contentment is good. It is the key to gratefulness. It is the view of life as better than okay, but rather, good. Contentment removes the desire for more and better, and kills pride. It allows room for giving instead of receiving.

Contentment does not make a good consumer, but I must admit, it was so fun to finally pick out a new couch.

amanda ∞

0 thoughts on “Lessons from my couch

  1. Acceptance-with-Joy says:

    I had a couch once that I decided was ugly too. I had just gotten divorced and I was pretty broke. I could not afford a new couch. I could barely afford my house payment and the minimum payment on the credit cards. When we divided our assets, I got the house which had equity in it and so to be fair the judge also allowed me to take all our combined credit debt. I got a roommate.

    When I could finally afford a couch, I learned that I had developed a couch shopping phobia. Afterall, I had the ugly couch for over 12-years. If I was purchasing something that would last that long, I wanted it to be just right. Every shopping trip was a disappointment. I left the store overwhelmed and uninspired.

    Then one day, I returned home. Oddly, neither my dog nor my roommate’s dog greeted me at the front door. As I made my way to the back of the house where the ugly couch resided, I starting noticing bits of foam on the floor. By the time I got to the family room, it looked like it had snowed. The dogs had eaten the ugly couch. The dogs were at the back sliding back door with their tails between their legs. They didn’t even turn around to look at me. They knew that they were BAD dogs.

    I went to the store that night and picked out a new couch. Because, while I still dreaded the thought of commiting to a couch, sitting on the floor was even less appealing.

    I can’t wait to see your photos!!!

    I’m laughing so hard. I can just envision the foam everywhere. I’m sure the dogs had fun.
    That’s motivation for making that purchase. 🙂
    amanda

  2. Sarah says:

    Amanda:
    I had to laugh at your heartfelt story =) I have an ugly old couch that was gifted to us (put a slipcover over it, and it’s not so bad!) My husband and I did go shopping for a couch, but just can’t justify the price (!) as long as we have a functional seating area . . . I once had a Sunday School teacher ask, “When a visitor comes into your home, what spiritual aroma do they smell?” This inspired me to concentrate more on how we treat those who come and showing them God’s love, rather than thinking of my decor. I’ve also noticed that if I make a negative comment at all, my husband gets very defensive and thinks that he hasn’t provided for me sufficiently (I have nothing to complain about – he’s taken care of me so well!)
    I really liked what you said “By waiting, I learned that self-gratification does not bring the same joy as patience. (And the only way to learn this is to wait.)” Thanks for this post.

    I know what you mean by the aroma of the home. Whenever pride tried to sneak in, I’d focus on that and just hoped the aroma of the couch would not be stronger than the aroma of God’s love. And I’d light a candle. 🙂
    Thanks for your comment. I love to hear of others honoring their husbands.
    amanda

  3. Jan says:

    I love this!! Because I think we’ve all had that feeling at one time or another. And because I whole heartedly agree with contentment and gratitude. But it also made me laugh because I had a love seat out of the same fabric for probably close to the same amount of time. Except I kept trying to save it because I had such a huge sentimental attachment to all the memories of times spent on it. The support structure gave way last summer…. I think my husband secretly had a huge party 😉 What a great gift your husband gave you!!

    So funny we had the same fabric. This also had sentimental value. It was the first couch we purchased after 5 years of marriage. We were so thrilled to have a couch that wasn’t a hand-me-down, and now it is ready to pass on.
    amanda

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