After 37 years of marriage, hubby and I recently bought our first new furniture. Call us late bloomers.
Somehow, the items that have furnished our home until now have always landed by default. Most of them came gently used by parents, grandparents, or siblings. A couple of dressers were included with our first mobile home. We’ve owned at least six televisions in those 37 years, but have never actually purchased one. And a couple of things I can’t imagine parting with, like my solid oak World War II desk and the stuffed rocking chair I rocked my babies in, came to us free from storage warehouses.
And we’ve got along just fine.
Lately, though, the shortage of seating for guests and the mishmash of cast-offs in our living room (I counted nine different kinds of wood) were getting on my nerves. I began to dream of things that actually matched and spots for every bum. I decided to use the money I’d saved from my column-writing—usually reserved for writing-related expenses—on new furniture instead. So I thank you, dear readers, and the advertisers who keep the Central Plains Herald Leader going. You’ve unwittingly played a role in this new acquisition at the Toddheim.
With our first furniture shopping experience, I discovered you’re never too old to learn things about yourself. I didn’t know what kind of furniture I liked, having never chosen for myself. I learned I don’t like leather—too cold. I learned I prefer warm beiges and browns over cool greys and blues. I felt bummed to learn how much new furnishings cost. While I’d hoped to replace both seating and tables, my money ran out before we got to the tables. Guess I better keep the columns coming for a while.
But there’s one thing I already knew about myself because it’s true for every human on the planet. The joy provided by new possessions is temporary. The stuff we chase after will never fill our hearts. Don’t misunderstand, I’m thrilled to see the new furniture in my home and hope I’ll feel thankful to own it for years to come. I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing I earned it with the writing skills God gave me. But I also know a nice, new living room will not make me a nice, new person. In fact, sometimes our possessions simply begin to own us as they require maintenance, time, and vigilance to protect. We become servants of our stuff instead of the other way around.
Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner) wrote a dark little tale about a man who finds a magic cup and discovers that if he weeps into the cup, his tears turn into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and rarely shed a tear. So he creates ways to make himself sad so his tears can make him rich. As the pearls pile up, so does his greed. The story ends with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand, weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife’s slain body in his arms.
A gruesome picture, but a vivid reminder of how greed destroys us.
Jesus understood the secret to living a contented life. In Luke chapter 12, he told his disciples, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”
I’ll reflect on that as I nap on my comfy new couch this afternoon.