A friend once told me, “You know, Lisa, I don’t think God is going to let you get rid of that blue carpet until you’re thankful for it.”
Nineteen years ago we came to town for a weekend to buy a house. We looked at thirteen, narrowed it to three, and then chose our house. Russ and I are slow decisions makers, so buying a house in a weekend still stands as one of our most decisive moments.
As we walked through the house admiring it, I said, “I love the house, but this blue carpet has to go.”
Never, let me repeat, never say words like that. God was giving me a great house on eight acres in a nice town – a big change from our current home. That’s what I should have focused on.
We had six children when we moved in, and with no wiggle room in our budget, the carpet stayed. I figured in a few years I would get my dream of pulling out the carpet and replacing it with hardwood to match the rest of the main floor.
Then in 2006, we began the journey of adopting four children over a span of 17 months. We were spread thin in every possible way: time, money, energy. As we were plunged into the realities of parenting children with early trauma, all that wasn’t absolutely essential was stripped away.
Our days were focused on safety and security for everyone in our family. It took all I had to care for the physical and emotional needs of the kids. Putting dinner on the table was a test in perseverance most days. Going to the grocery store was nearly impossible.
The financial strain of meeting the special needs of so many kids felt like it might pull us under. And darn it, did I mention we value being debt-free? We couldn’t put new floors on a credit card.
Life comes into sharp focus in the face of trials. Things I once thought were important, like the appearance of my home, became far less significant as we faced the needs of our family.
Concerns about the color of our carpet, the age of our cars, the style of our clothes slipped all the way down to the bottom of our list of priorities.
That blue carpet saw it all: babies, potty training, house training a puppy, sickness, and even the gallon of milk that exploded when I dropped it while carrying groceries into the house.
It was even worse than it looked, which is saying something, and I knew it.
As 2019 begins, we only have three children still living at home; it’s strangely quiet. We’re not buried in as many needs as we once were.
Our well-loved home has grown a little shabby over the decades. The finish has worn off the high traffic areas of the wood floors in the kitchen. The original 1920’s red fir in the entryway has so many splinters I’ve kept a rug over it to protect our feet.
It’s finally time to take care of the floors.
Last Sunday we moved everything (including the refrigerator) from our main floor into one room. Monday the crew arrived and the project began. We’ve already run into a significant complication with the discovery of wet subfloor due to water leaking through an exterior wall. Nothing is simple!
What have I learned from this?
1. Contentment and gratitude are essential.
2. Debt weighs us down; very few things are worth it.
3. Sometimes we just have to wait – even if it’s 19 years with a not-so-loved carpet.
4. In the waiting, Pinterest is not your friend.
Discontentment takes up precious energy which no parent has in excess.
Thinking over and over again about something we can’t have, steals joy and gives nothing in return.
Did I ever become truly thankful for the old, blue carpet? I’d like to think so; although as with many other things, it’s been a back and forth tug-of-war in my heart.
I can say with certainty, I’m hugely thankful to own a home, however imperfect, where I can love my family and welcome our friends.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 1 Timothy 6:6-8
Contentment is essential, my friends. Work on it. Catch yourself when you want to grumble and complain. Choose gratitude every time – write it down to remind yourself.
Godliness with contentment is great gain.