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.