I used to have a thing for baseboards.
You know, that strip of bevelled wood tacked along the bottom edge of the wall.
It signified completion.
It meant that not only had the walls been insulated, drywalled, and painted, but that the floor had been finished too—whether carpet, linoleum, or tile.
My desert cabin sports metal framing studs, dusty exposed insulation recently covered by cardboard and even dustier carpet-remnant floors. There is no vacuum and not enough power to run it anyway. (An unfortunate, but expected result of off-grid living.)
This “temporary” condition, along with the rolled-up blueprints of our dream house gathering more of the same dust, has lasted for almost 20 years—and my husband is a carpenter!
The old adage “The cobbler’s children have no shoes” certainly applies to us.
For the tidy, organized, list-making wife, it is mentally stressful to wake each day to ugliness.
It is mentally stressful to know there’s nothing you can do about the dirt and disorder flashing like a neon sign that says “This Will Never Change” when all you’ve ever wanted was a beautiful home.
You become certain no one lives like you do (especially when scrolling through social media!), and no one could possibly understand.
Grumble, grumble, woe is me, why do I have to live like this?
Then (because nothing is in your control, dear wife) you start to resent your husband’s income that doesn’t cover a ‘Major Home Redecorating Overhaul’ budget.
Resentment mocks you every time you look at the state of your bathroom fixtures or bedroom decor or ram your shin, for the hundredth time, while walking through the limited maze of your tiny rooms.
Why, oh why, is this my life?
All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15
Comparison puts the focus on what you don’t have, and resentment finds someone you can blame for it.
These are like two unruly kids run amok. They’re constantly pointing fingers at the perfect hair, gym-fit body, stylish clothes, gorgeous house, or coveted talent of someone else for you to pine over, and then whine incessantly convinced these things have been withheld from you.
A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones. Proverbs 14:30
How often have we moaned “if only . . .” while racing on comparison’s highway?
- If only we had more money
- If only we lived somewhere else
- If only our house was an HGTV poster child
Every time I complained about my lack or pointed my finger at the ‘obvious’ reason for it (like my hard-working husband’s career choice, financial decisions, etc.), I was ultimately pointing my finger at God and doubting His wisdom.
I was, in essence, saying, “There is some kind of mistake here, God. Dirt is not my color. Cramped is not my style. And don’t you realize how embarrassed I am to entertain? This can’t be right.”
But it is. God knows exactly what He is doing.
The truth is, dear wife, He chose this very moment with all its rough edges and uncomfortable places to stretch your faith in Him. He chose the man you married and the surroundings you despise and the events that still bring you tears to mold you into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Knowing this, we can be at peace—even in the midst of unsightly floors and peeling paint—that God is in complete control of every aspect of our lives.
There is no good thing He is withholding from us.
He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, and right is he. Deuteronomy 32:4
So maybe, when you feel the urge to compare and resent the lifestyle you have little control to change, take comparison’s less traveled back road instead.
Compare your life with those on this earth who have so much less.
When we do this kind of comparing:
- It generates gratitude for what we have.
- It keeps us thankful and praying for others.
- It keeps our hearts in the right place—in perpetual praise to God.
I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most high. Psalm 9:1-2
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us therewith be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8
By American standards, I have very little, but any third-world woman seeing my home would stand in awe.
Where I see Never Enough Room; she sees spaciousness.
Where I see rugs saturated with dust; she sees a solid floor.
Where I see unfinished walls; she sees permanence.
Where I look with disdain at my ragged mismatched furniture, a mish-mash of various styles and stages of decay; she sees something to sit on, and—wow!—a place for books, so many books, and a vase of flowers and—what’s this?—a radio and a television and a laptop(!) and, oh lovely, lovely, a treadle sewing machine.
Where I look upon my surroundings as isolated and see a dry, desert landscape; she sees freedom and a chance to breathe deeply without fear.
She sees a place for her children to stretch and grow unimpeded by impossibly cramped living quarters, unsafe water, hostile governments, and the ravages of war.
She would trade with me in a heartbeat.
It all comes down to our perspective, doesn’t it?
You see, no matter how much we have, there will always be someone who has more.
There will always be someone who lives the life we wish for.
And there will always be someone who wishes for what we take for granted.
So kiss your balustrade ball, precious wife! Yes, It’s (really) a Wonderful Life!
For while it may take effort to thank God for the stained 80’s furniture and the ugly brown walls, it could be worse. There could be none at all.
The new and pretty things we hope for now, like a freshly-picked bouquet, will not last, but God has promised that we will, if we continue on in obedience and faith.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:8
To be honest, I still want a home with baseboards.
But I have learned that if baseboards encompass my rooms or my walls get covered or not is irrelevant.
It is I who must be encompassed by the Spirit of God.
It is I who must be covered—cloaked with the mantle of righteousness supplied by Christ alone.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
Abiding in the Vine,
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The post “What a Stroll Down Comparison’s Back Road Can Do for a Murmuring Wife” was first published on Desert Rain.