Monday, October 6, 2008

Thou Shalt Not

Thursday evening I was invited to a dinner meeting for the board of directors of the nonprofit for which I write grants. I'm on staff, not on the board, but they wanted the staff members and the board members to get to know each other. Wow. I so did not belong there. Driving to the house, I realized I was in a different world. The road on which she lives is one of the fanciest in the area--one full of old money. The houses were huge, the cars were expensive, and the properties back up against the lake. I parked my very basic, non-loaded minivan on the street and walked up the path to the house. I was met in the driveway by one of the board members, a lady I've met a few times but wouldn't necessarily consider a friend. She and the hostess are friends, and she had obviously been here before. She walked in the front door without even stopping to ring the bell. We entered a huge foyer and into a big beautiful home. Inside I saw some faces that I recognized and two that I did not. I was immediately introduced to one lady I did not know, but another gentleman just stood in the corner not talking to anyone. I thought it was odd, but, well, I'm just too shy to run up to someone and thrust my hand out in introduction. It was a little uncomfortable though. Someone should really introduce this guy to someone so he doesn't have to stand there alone. Anyone? The hostess announced that we were all present and should make our way to the dining area to eat. The man from the corner offers to get me something to drink. Weird. No one even introduced us, and now he is getting my drink? "No, thanks!" I said. I poured myself a glass of water. Then I notice that the man is getting other people drinks. Oh, crap. He's the freaking waiter. There are 8 of us here, and we have a waiter. Seriously? Oh, yes. The meal has been catered, and there is a waiter.

Suddenly I become very self-conscious. I look down at my Target shirt and Wal-Mart pants and feel a surge of embarrassment. I am instantly grateful that I bought those shoes at the consignment store. Even though they weren't new, they're at least a name brand. I wish there was some way to wear the shoes higher on my body. I considered dangling them from my ears. Why, oh why, didn't I wear my big fake diamond earrings tonight? I began to scan the other guests--3 carat diamond ring, expensive leather handbag, designer clothes, trendy haircut. Even the men were well-dressed and clean-cut. I scan the house. Beautiful pool overlooking the lake which runs right along the backyard. Ridiculously high ceilings. So many doors I forgot which one I came in. Fancy drapes which match the fancy furniture. Professionally decorated everything. Everything is beautiful, fancy, expensive. I imagined what it would be like to live here. What would this life be like? I assume that they have a perfect life to go along with this perfect house. And I want it. I'm just being honest here. I wanted the sparkly pool and the lakeside property and the Cherokee Boulevard address. I wanted the face lift and the big diamonds and the artificial laugh for jokes that aren't funny. I wanted it the whole night. I wished my handbag wasn't old and worn out. I wished my shoes weren't scuffed. I wish my clothes weren't from a discount store. I wished my diamonds weren't fake. I wished my house wasn't amateurly decorated and landscaped. Even as I walked to my car I wasn't done. I wished my car wasn't the cheapest minivan on the market. I wished it started when I pushed a button on my key chain. I wished my dinner tomorrow would be served by waiter. I got to my car and opened my embarrassing purse to pull out the keys to my embarrassing car and suddenly felt...well, embarrassed. But this time for a different reason. Inside my purse I saw a spit rag, a rattle, and a pacifier. See, I wouldn't trade purses with anyone in that house. While it may not contain loads of cash and cards with high limits, mine contains cracker crumbs and other artifacts from the most wonderful people I know. I am wealthy. My bank statement may not agree, but I am wealthy. My dictionary says that wealthy means "characterized by abundance." That's me. I have so much. I have a beautiful house (on a much smaller scale than the one I visited). I have a car that I love (because it meets all of our needs and has never given me an ounce of trouble). I have clothes for all occasions (purchased mostly from Wal-Mart and Target and consignment stores). But most of all I have a husband who loves me, and I have 3 children who are amazing. I could very well have spent my whole night focused on what I don't have. There are certainly enough things to fill a night thinking over them. Opening my purse and seeing my baby's belongings helped me to remember what God says about all this. Exodus 20:17. Click on that. Read it; I'll wait. Did you read it? There it is. God's 10th commandment in plain English. And I broke it. I didn't just break it--I shattered it. Envy is one of The Enemy's most powerful tools. I let him into my life a little bit Thursday evening. I let him take up residence in my heart and fill me with greed and discontentment. I let him cloud my judgement and turn me into someone I didn't even recognize. And I'm embarrassed. And I'm sorry.

I won't lie to you and say that I haven't thought about that evening with the smallest (er, maybe not smallest) bit of jealousy since that night. I won't lie to you and tell you that I won't ever look at what I don't have and feel greedy. I won't lie to you and tell you that contentment comes naturally to me. But I will tell you that I'm in prayer about this. I'm asking God to help me with it. I'm asking God to help me remember how lucky I am. I'm asking God to keep my eyes on my wealth and not on others'. I'm asking God to fill my heart so full with His love that there isn't room for the other guy. It's hard. But it's so worth it.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

I laughed through your email... great writing!

Then I not so laughed... I've been in this funk of "I want" for the past two months. I don't know what set it off but it's been a big green, hairy monster trying to sneak in and get me. Only Monday, I looked around my unmatching, kid-friendly and kid-decorated home, and called the big green, hairy monster for what he was!

Thanks for your post!