When we moved into our house three years ago, it was completely unlivable. We had one week and a certain amount of dollars available to get it to a place where we could move in. We painted everything, sanded and stained hardwood floors, made repairs, etc. The bones of the house where here, most were just old bones. One of those old bones was our stove.
It was an OLD stove, with only three operational burners. But the house needed other things more, like a floor in the kitchen, so a stove was put on the back burner (ha, ha!!). It was a really ugly and disgusting appliance, but it worked. I realized I didn't even have a picture of it because I have made sure to keep the stove out of any pictures. But then I came across this one with the stove in the background. I cropped it and it's blurry, but you get the picture (ha, ha again!! I am so punny today!)
Strangely for the past three years I have been completely content with this stove, other than the fact that it has been an eyesore. In fact, the stove had kind of become my symbol for contentment, something I clung to.
I have had the opportunity to learn about contentment the hard way. I don't recommend that method. The consequences are lingering today and will continue to linger for many more years to come, I am afraid. But I was able to look at this old stove and creatively try to determine how to cook a full meal on it and be reminded of how important contentment really is and how far I had come.
This week's Women Living Well Proverbs study has had us parked on Chapters 6-10 which are all about wisdom. There have been many lessons on being aware of the adulteress. I have looked at the adulteress with a wide lens in this study as being anyone or thing that entices another away from that which is good. Yes the verses are literally intended to warn a man against the wiles of an adulteress, and to instruct a woman so that she knows what to look for in one who is after her man. But the principles can be applied to so much more!
The biggest problem of the adulteress is that she is idle at home and has a lack of contentment. She wants what she should not have. She is not keeping herself busy at home so has time to wish for other things and to dwell on things outside her home.
Do you find that when you are idle or bored that you dwell more heavily on things, that you worry about things more, that you start to find that you are just not content with what you have?
Do you realize that when you are not at your own home, but are always out and about at someone else's, that you start to wish you had some of what others have? Do you start to believe that their house is better, their husband is better, their kids are better, etc.?
When we lose our contentment we start to wonder what it might be like to have something or someone else. Right?
When we lived in Oklahoma this was a real problem for me. It was a constant race of keeping up with the Joneses (and we really didn't like the Joneses, you know what I mean?). The emphasis there was to go, go, go and do, do, do. We were rarely at home, trying to keep up. Contentment was an almost impossible thing to attain! We had a super nice, large house with really nice things. But our neighbors always had more, our friends always did more, etc. I would stress about what the kids were going to wear to church or a friend's house or a field trip or a holiday party. It was exhausting and ridiculous!
Probably the biggest change for me in moving back to my small hometown in Missouri is that I no longer participate in this type of rat race. I am completely content with my small, imperfect home. I let my kids be who they really are instead of trying to dress them up like a friend's kids. I don't think about the next thing I would like to buy or the next change I would like to make to my house or the next outfit I need to get for the kids. I have embraced being the Keeper of my Home and rarely leave it unless it is for a direct purpose.
I can honestly say that I do not even know what the majority of the inside of my friends' houses look like. When we get together it is at an event, usually with our kids, usually sports or swimming at the city pool or going to the park, etc. I don't think about what they are wearing, what they are driving, where they are going next.
It is so freeing!
I don't know what I am missing because I am not out seeing everything I don't have. I have worked hard to make my home a place of respite and functionality. I love it here. I don't want to see what I am missing because I feel like I am not missing out on anything I truly love.
Those women out there who are stirring up trouble in others' homes are women who are bored and lack contentment. If they would embrace their own homes and their own families and get busy at it then they wouldn't be seeking what others have.
Now, back to the stove. A couple of months ago a second burner went out and left me with only the two small burners. It has been inconvenient but I have made it work. I finally gave in and allowed Rick to purchase me a new stove this week. We didn't shop around for the newest brand, style, etc. I knew that I wanted a smooth top electric range to match my other white appliances. To be honest, I don't even know what is "in" in the world of stove top ranges, and I don't care. I have no idea what kind of stove any of my friends have. I wanted one that worked, and had all four burners, and was one that was easy to clean. We went up to our local furniture store, paid a tad bit more for it than if we had gone to a large box store, but supported locally instead and allowed them to do the work of installing it and removing my old one. It was a win-win for everyone. And I have a new stove.
There was nothing wrong with purchasing a new stove when it was needed. Sometimes we need new things. The problem lies in having something perfectly good, although not perfect, and desiring for something perfectly better when we don't need it.
The key for so much of me was in contentment. Contentment can be obtained. I believe the key to others' contentment is being busy at home, creating a home that makes you happy, and protecting it and doing your best to protect those within its walls.
Wise women will find contentment.