Covetousness

by Nicole Russell

I hung up the phone in disgust and turned to my husband. “They are going on vacation again,” I whined, “on a cruise this time. Why can’t we ever do that?”

With his head shaking, he reminded me, “Honey we bought a house this year, remember? We can’t go on a big vacation. I’m sorry, but you can’t have everything your friends have.”

I walked away pouting. I might want a few extra goodies here and there, but doesn’t everyone? From the looks of it, all the young couples we knew had a Pottery-Barn-meets-Discover-Card kind of lifestyle, and I desperately wanted to keep up.

Though I was raised with plenty of material blessings, when my husband and I got married, we had to adjust to a different lifestyle than I’d been used to. Like most young people starting out, we had to think ahead and plan financially for things like car repairs, vacations and even eating out. It wasn’t that we were poor handlers of what God had blessed us with; it’s just that we lacked the kind of superfluous funds I’d had when living with my parents.

I tried to adjust to a tighter budget but struggled to keep what my husband calls my “wanter” in check. Our friends seemed to be doing well financially, and I didn’t want to be left out, so I was constantly looking for clothes, gifts and gadgets. And I never failed to pressure my husband to take me on vacation or out to eat. One time I wanted to buy some new clothes not because I needed them but because one of my friends had just purchased several new outfits.

The cost of covetousness

After a while, my desire for material things put a strain on my marriage and friendships. After repeatedly listening to me whine for whatever I wanted that week—a big screen TV, a dog or a vacation—my husband got fed up. He confronted me about my need to accumulate stuff then lovingly reminded me to hand over to God my tendency to covet. After a while, he grew so exasperated with my discontent that when I would complain I couldn’t buy more furniture, he’d just walk away, dejected.

Though God has blessed my husband and me with well-paying jobs, between a move, a new home and my insatiable materialism, my husband could hardly keep me happy. He had started to doubt his abilities as a provider even though I lacked for nothing except the willingness to be content with the possessions I had. He also worried about how my endless demands for more affected me spiritually since I rarely reveled in my existing blessings.

To make matters worse, I started resenting my friends who’d been blessed with things I wanted. Though I never expressed it to them, I had a hard time being happy for them when they’d gleefully tell me about a trip to Europe or show me pictures of their new home. Instead of counting my blessings and theirs, I ignored my own and grew jealous of theirs. My behaviour not only damaged my relationships but also demonstrated how much I needed to change.

Losing my discontent

I never had a moment of epiphany where I broke down after salivating over the Crate&Barrel catalogue and realized I had to stop. No, with me, as I suspect with many people, God tends to be more subtle. He simply allowed my covetousness to eat away at my soul.

Finally, I grew tired of my own dissatisfaction and started to work harder at wanting less. I wish I could say I no longer struggle with this, but I do. In fact, as I was writing this article, I saw a commercial advertising a trip to Ireland. Without hesitating, I exclaimed to my husband, “We should go!”

He looked at me, laughed and said, “Aren’t you writing an article about this?” For this year, I’m not resolving to lose weight, but to lose discontent. When I give to God what I constantly yearn for, He never fails to give satisfaction in return—and that’s something money can’t buy.

Nicole Russell resolves to be content with what she has in Hastings, Minn.

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