Who Cares About the “Joneses”

UPDATE: I wrote this original post on August 7th but didn’t publish it. Yesterday morning, the 8th, we woke up to several inches of water moving through our basement in a flash flood that destroyed all the flooring and baseboards but thankfully left most of the equipment and furniture salvageable. So not only did our home improvement project list just get significantly longer…we were reminded yet again that what we do have really isn’t even ours. We should hold on to it loosely. And it’s just stuff…

ORIGINAL POST: Michael and I are in our second week of a massive ‘spring cleaning’ project around the house. Yes, it is August. Probably the fact that we are doing spring cleaning in August should give you a clue as to how desperately our poor little house needs it. We haven’t gotten to the actual cleaning part yet – we are still working on the organizing. It started two Saturdays ago. We were out early doing some garage sale shopping. Michael said he would like to make better use of the storage space under our bed. I said I was wanting to get some bed risers so it seemed like we were on the same page. 11 days and about 27 home organization projects later and our house is still an absolute wreck. And the bed risers are sitting by the door waiting to go back to Target.

In my mind, the reason our house doesn’t stay organized is because it’s small – we don’t have much storage space, the bedrooms are small, no pantry, etc. Granted, our house boasts about 2400 square feet of livable space, but we actually “live” in about 1400 of that. (I do have to, somewhat reluctantly, admit that the studio space is perhaps the most organized and often cleanest part of the house.) Of course it doesn’t take more than 2 minutes on the internet to understand how ridiculously large our house is in comparison with global standards. You don’t even have to make comparisons to impoverished countries to be embarrassed. In 2009, the average new home size in the UK was 818 sq feet. In Spain it was 1,044. France was 1,206 and Canada was 1,948. The average new home size in the US was 2,164, second only to Australia who came in just over 2,300 sq feet. So what was I saying about our house being small?

Why is the lure of “keeping up with the Joneses” so strong at times? 90% of the time I am perfectly content with our house and our stuff. In fact, over the years Michael and I have made conscious decisions to accumulate less and live more simply. We want to always live below our means. We want to live in a place where we are satisfied and not constantly looking out the window thinking there could be more. I want to put my clothes away in my tiny closet and be happy. Who cares about the “Joneses” anyway? I want to not just be content with what I have, I want to make a conscious decision to live with less.

In Priscilla Shirer‘s “One in a Million“, she takes the reader on a journey with God by walking through the history of the Israelite’s journey from Egypt to Canaan. When she talks about the Israelites being led by the pillar of cloud and fire, she writes this, “Wouldn’t it be cool if God would just come down and linger over the house He wants you to buy, over the church He wants you to attend, over the person He wants you to date and marry?” OH wait…HE DID. He did linger over our house. Ok, so it certainly wasn’t a pillar of cloud in the sky. But he prepared this house for us. Before we ever moved to the Nashville area, before we ever heard of Central Baptist Church, before we ever decided we would live in Hendersonville, He lingered. In 2005, the SBC Annual Meeting was held in Nashville. Our pastor and his wife participated in a city wide prayer walk as part of the conference. They were assigned a section of Hendersonville which included our street. They walked for hours and prayed over the houses in the neighborhood, ending right in front of our house. They stopped and prayed over our house, praying for the people that would live there in the future, for how those people would be involved in the community and for the how they may even be involved in the church. They prayed specifically over our house and for us. We moved into that house 5 years later and Kathy cried as she told me that story and realized she was praying for us.

So when I struggle with dissatisfaction over what we don’t have or what we could have, I’m reminded…God knew what He was doing when He put us here. He planted us here not so we could have a cool house, but so we could be part of a community. The house may not be everything I want it to be, but it’s more than enough. And someday it will be clean again!

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