I moved to Nashville nine months ago. In that time, I have received three couches from friends and family. Yes, three. My initial thought was one of gratitude and appreciation. I have a new couch! For free! But if I’m honest that very quickly dissipated and morphed into, This couch doesn’t fit with my aesthetic. This isn’t what I’m going for. My apartment doesn’t look good enough to invite friends into. I want the clean, white, perfect Joanna Gaines home that so many other people seem to have.
Hello—talking about a couch here. Interior design. A first-world problem if there ever was one.
I’d say to myself, I’m a 27-year-old woman living in my first apartment alone, and I want it to look good.
It didn’t take long for my boyfriend to call me out. Leave it to a male to speak the obvious truth:
Why does it matter?
Desiring or possessing a nice house or apartment is not an inherently bad thing. We’re allowed to have living spaces that fit our style and make us feel at home. But I think it’s important we ask ourselves the state of our hearts in desiring these things and building them up.
Surely you can relate, whether with your home, your body, your job, or your relationship status. After all, we live in an image-focused world. I read a statistic that Instagram has 600 million users, 400 million of whom are active every day. And 95 billion images and videos are shared on Instagram every 24 hours. How crazy is that? We’re inundated with images from other people—some authentic but many not. Images of fitness routines, “clean” meals, beauty tips, high fashion, celebrity lifestyles, career accomplishments, perfect homes—the list is never-ending.
I look at Instagram and compare myself to women who “have it all”: a successful blog or book, a cute body, great fashion sense, a perfectly decorated home, a nice husband, and maybe even a sweet little one.
These things will ultimately pass away. That vintage clawfoot tub and the number of blog followers aren't coming with us to heaven. We’re not guaranteed our six-pack abs are either. I don’t want to store up so many treasures for myself here on earth that I’m reluctant to leave them behind when I’m called to glory and life eternal with Jesus Christ.
Let my wealth be in the Cross.
This truth applies to any of our ventures. I know when I am not on guard and spending time in God’s Word, my tendency to compare can take deeper roots in my life. I imagine comparison like a nasty weed that makes its way into the flower bed and destroys every blossom. It digs in, plants roots, and grows deeper and wider until it has thoroughly wrecked the entire garden.
At that point, my comparison turns into jealousy and envy.
My friend Paul Maxwell had this to say about jealousy:
"Through jealousy, God shows us two things. First, he shows us himself. He is a jealous God (he even says “my name is Jealous” Exodus 34:14). It is part of his character as the covenanting God to take on the pain and hurt of experiencing his bride’s unfaithfulness (Hosea 4:13–14). Through our jealousy, we experience a communicable divine emotion (Deuteronomy 32:21).
Second, he shows us ourselves. Through jealousy, the deepest desires of our hearts are elicited and amplified (Genesis 22:12; Psalm 66:18–20). The fire of jealousy burns away the distractions of life’s details to show us the things we treasure. This process of internal emotional suffering—of jealousy most pointedly—can help clarify and bring to the surface all that we would otherwise have kept hidden from God and even from ourselves."
My jealousy indicates where my desires are. My jealousy for someone else’s beautiful home is about more than decor. At its core, it’s about approval, recognition, and admiration.
I even get jealous about friend’s successful blogs, books, and creative pursuits. Deep down, I want God to widely use me and my writing, to allow me to publish a book and to impact other women. The jealousy that can come from that desire is not a pretty place for my heart to be.
In 1 Kings 20 and 21, we see Ahab fiercely jealous of Naboth and his vineyard. Ahab wants what he wants, and his wife Jezebel encourages him to assert his power to make it happen. God had commanded earlier,
Ahab and Jezebel completely disregard God and pursue their own desires in selfishness and sin.
Later, Ahab repents and walks around subdued—and The Lord honors His humility. God is just, yet He is full of mercy. He wants our humility and reliance on Him over our own pride. And He wants our contentment to be in Him, not in what other people have.
Immorality comes into my life through comparison, jealousy, and pride. Can you say the same?
I want my focus to be on my holiness, my becoming more like Jesus and more consistently in step with Him. This has to be elevated above any striving for success, approval, or acceptance.
God created heaven and earth; He created us and every part of our lives. He's looking for the person who is humbly willing to follow Him. When I notice myself in the trap of comparison, I ask Him to create in me a humble heart and a spirit of obedience to His will. I need His help so that my focus rests on Him, not on others. Let my life be about Jesus and the things He wants for me.
Rather than compare to others or long jealously after what they have, we can root ourselves in the Lord. When we align our hearts with His, we understand and experience what He wants for us.
This is the long game. It's not an overnight process. It takes work, and it takes continual turning back to Him.
When we do that, we get to rest because we're not constantly striving. We get to experience real peace in a way we cannot with anything else. While it may not garner us a bestselling book or a cute home like the comparison game could, it will allow God to use us as He sees fit, for our overall good and the good of His kingdom.
I'd take that any day.
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.