Self-Made Traps

One of the hardest things about giving up cable TV was losing my HGTV and Food Network. The Sally Homemaker inside me is a self-confessed addict to both of those channels. One thing I don’t miss, however, is the irritation I’d feel while watching some episodes of “House Hunters”.

You’d see couples looking at new houses and whining about the stupidest things. “I like this bedroom, but that wallpaper is atrocious! These light fixtures are falling apart! This kitchen needs updating!”

Well, duh, folks. Repaint. Hang new fixtures. Redo the kitchen if you must (although, in nearly every episode those “dated” kitchens are light-years more modern than the one I cook out of each day). Look at the structure, the big picture, before casting judgment on a home. And speaking of the word “big”, another annoyance with that show was hearing a family of three or four complaining that a house with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, an office and a bonus room was “too small” for them.

Maybe I don’t miss HGTV as much as I thought. Because the older I get, the less tolerant I am for people whining about not having enough.

In recent days, I’ve known of a couple of families smaller than ours who’ve moved into houses two or three times the size of our home, saying they’d “outgrown” their previous living space. Seriously? How do four people “outgrow” a 2,000 square foot home? One person I know who moved recently was at least honest about the reason for the move: they just liked the new house and its location better, and they had gotten a really great deal on the price.

I used to go online and look for houses, because I hated the house we’re living in now. We didn’t really choose it–we moved here to help my aging grandmother, and at the time, had just two kids. Now we have six people in this three-bedroom, two bath, 1600 square-foot brick ranch. It was built in 1971 and shows every minute of its age, and then some. The to-do list of repairs around here is never-ending. We’re about to embark on a frugal remodel that will turn our carport into a living room and free up some space for an extra bedroom and small home office. Another bathroom would be fantastic, but it’s not in the budget and I don’t know where we’d put it, anyway.

Could we sell this place and move into a bigger, more modern house? Yes, we certainly could. But the mortgage here is reasonable and there’s just no excuse for not fixing up and taking care of what we already have. At least, I can’t come up with one.

Americans keep using this word “need” but I don’t think it means what we think it means. If we were really taking the definition of the word seriously, most of us would find that what we really need (i.e.: requiring something because it is essential) is less in our lives, not more.

We’re experts at weaving self-made traps and then complaining when we can’t get free. One of my favorite bands, The 77s, wrote a song about it in the 1990s.

It would take about 50 blog posts to cover all the ways that I keep myself in bondage, and I’m going to write a series touching on a few. But I guess I started with this one because at least in one way, I can celebrate the freedom of finally unlocking one cage and escaping the pressure of longing and lusting for a more palatial place to live. I’ve finally realized that I don’t need it.

I just don’t need it.

And this contentment I feel, well, contentment is a great gift from God and He must wonder why so many of us take so dang long to embrace it.

I’m 46. That means that even in a best-case scenario, my life is half over. It could end today–only God knows. But realizing I’ve only got, at most, a few decades to leave a legacy and do something good with my life, well, it has shifted my priorities all over the place. I used to want bigger-better-fancier-newer and now I just want to help others have enough. I want to trim my life of enough fat (literally and figuratively) so that I’m not locking myself up in ways that keep me from doing what God has called me to do.

If any of this resonates with you, come back in a few days when I’m going to talk about it some more. And please, comment and share your thoughts!

2 replies on “Self-Made Traps”

  1. Amen, my friend. I am right there with you!!
    Nothing makes you realize what is ENOUGH when your husband loses his job and you’re unemployed for almost 6 months!! Then move from a 1,700 sq foot house on 1 1/2 acres into a duplex …. Yeh. You find out what’s really important!!
    Looking forward to you series.

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