The sin of envy feels so pervasive – I want. I want. I want. You have that? I want it.
It is funny though because at the same time I like to think I am immune to envy, and yet when I actually look at myself in an honest way I am way more envious than I should be.
I have been very blessed in life – the blessings which God has given me surround me every day from dawn to dawn. They offer their grace “like the dewfall” – daily showing me God’s love and how He holds me in His hands even when I feel like I am just muddling along rather than living out His plan.
Preachers preach against being envious and logically I know this. But as God “probes my mind” and He “tests my heart” envy creeps in where I don’t want it to be. By God’s grace though there is one area where I am not envious (though it has counter-part envy items so the cycle of envy continues). That area is: The Bigger House.
People will say “You don’t need the bigger house, the faster car, the nicer clothes”. And I know all that. But recently as a family we have been looking to move out of our too big house. Our area of current envy is: The Smaller House.
Now I like our house in many ways. But our family plan was to fill it up with kids and give them all more space than they could dream of. But God’s plan has been different for us. His plan must be just one kid. And so settling into the reality of His plan for us we settled into the realization that our current house is just too much house.
We envy a smaller house. We want a community. We want walkability. We want closeness to family. We want an ability to pop over to a family member’s house or friend’s house (either directly welcomed or unannounced) and just stay and share time together. We want close-knitted-ness that love generates. We want Nora to have the kid of childhood we had – running outside and playing with friends around the block.
We are blessed at our current house to be close to friends and family. But it isn’t our ideal. We have too coordinate — and yes being close to people takes time and effort — but we currently can’t just walk a quick walk and plop down on the porch of a friend or send Nora outside to play with friends. We could send her outside but there is no one to play with and she deserves the opportunity to make friends and be with friends her age rather than being stuck playing only with her parents.
So we envy an ideal. But isn’t that all envy? We see what others have and “we want” because it is not what we have and “the other” must be better. We can fail to see the blessings right in our own hands and think that contentment will come elsewhere. And in most cases the envy is misplaced — the faster car or nicer clothes won’t give you what you are looking for.
But I like to think that in this case the longing for The Smaller House in the right neighborhood on the right street is exactly what God is calling us towards. He wants us to recognize the envy so that we “envy in the right way” — follow His plan and go where He is directing. He is directing us away from where we currently are. And though all change is hard this will be a good change. By His grace He has shown us that “envy with a focus” is okay — an envy that focuses on love, community, and connectedness is the proper direction of envy. To align one’s feeling of envy with what God says is, I think, at least a good channeling of one’s envy. And if there is a good kind of envy I am glad I am not immune to it.
So we continue to pray for proper discernment of envy and we continue to pray we are following where God is calling. We have turned it over to God — telling Him that we understand He wants this for us (and we want want it for us) and so it is up to Him to make it all work out. “We wait in joyful hope” for God to reveal His plan for us and we trust in Him.