when you wish you had what they have ..


As quickly as I signed into Facebook, I regretted the click of my mouse.

Front and center, in perfectly clear megapixels, was the most adorably decorated baby’s room I’d ever seen.  You know, the kind that only exists in magazines.

Instantly, my inner being was fragmented into dozens of conflicting emotions: giddiness, awe, wonder, appreciation … but clawing its way to the top of the pile was the green-eyed monster.

Yep, I admit it.

I was jealous.

I had left the garage door of my heart open and unguarded, and envy had climbed the ladder, passed the lump in my throat, and perched itself in the hayloft of my mind.

I was jealous that (at least some of) my Facebook friends could afford pristinely decorated Pottery Barn nurseries, pastel-stenciled walls and color-coordinated crib linen.  I admired the photos from a distance, with a secret longing clinging to the walls of my heart.

But it didn’t happen just that once.  In fact, it happened almost every time I returned ‘home’ from South Africa for a visit to the States.

I would walk into my friends’ homes and drool over their matching living room suites, their ornate bedroom sets and spacious kitchens.  It went beyond mere admiration.  I coveted what they had.

Then I would leave, and inevitably, reality would brush over my face and clear my mind with the breeze coming in through the open car windows.

The truth was, I didn’t really want that.  It wasn’t me.

God has given me everything I have ever needed, and so much more.

Every time, I would have to repent of my ingratitude and discontentment, and ask God realign my heart to His will.

Rocking horse

In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter whether my kids’ diapers were changed on mahogany Pottery Barn changing tables, or a secondhand desk with nicks and scrapes.

The level of happiness and love in our home was not contingent upon the size of our kitchen.

The amount of warmth and hospitality within our walls didn’t depend on whether our couch matched our chairs, or whether we even had a couch at all …

On the flip side, those who do have beautiful things shouldn’t feel guilty or ‘less holy’ because of what they’ve been blessed with, but should enjoy their possessions as gifts from God, and seek to use them to His glory.

Philippians 4:19 says that our God will supply all our needs, according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

May He strengthen us to resist envy, jealousy and covetousness, and to learn the secret of being content in every situation and circumstance – even when it means no perfectly decorated baby’s room.

P.S.  If you struggle with comparing yourself to others, I highly recommend the book, Compared to Her, by Sophie DeWitt.

This is Day 11 of ‘Defining Home in 31 Days.’  Click here for a contents page of all posts in this series.

Photo credits: Brett Neilson and Caleb Zahnd

7 thoughts on “when you wish you had what they have ..

  1. Such a great post. I know all about PB envy. it might encourage you to know, though, that the picture in your post features flower lights from ikea 🙂 less than $5, I think. It’s the only “cute” thing we have in tegwyns room 🙂

  2. Really beautifully written with so much truth and so many great lines! I loved this; ”I had left the garage door of my heart open and unguarded” and this, too; ”The level of happiness and love in our home was not contingent upon the size of our kitchen.” Even though discontentment can be found almost everywhere in the world, I am most saddened and ashamed to see that it exists amongst us in the western world! We have so much more to be grateful for – not least being born in nations that are largely safe, without major war/conflict, that have special medical care and benefit programs for their citizens whilst others born in the developing world just don’t share in these luxuries we take so for granted…and yet, when we DO see that Ikea suite we can’t afford, we think WE are somehow living below our standards. The real solution (and only permanent one) is for us ALL to learn the art of contentment..thank you for the great reminder 🙂

  3. I think it is human nature for us to always think the grass is always greener on the side we’re not on. Truth be told, I’m envious that you’re from South Africa! My babies don’t sleep in cribs- we have a space real estate issue and they go from the swing into our bed and then onto a mattress on the floor. And I wouldn’t have it any other way-it works for us.

  4. It’s easy to look at those things we don’t have and wish we had the picture perfect coordinating sets or things. I like decorating and making things pretty but our budget doesn’t allow for PB anything and I’m ok with that. Our youngest slept in our walk in closet on a crib mattress until he was 3. Contentment is always the place we find our most beautiful life. Thanks for sharing, Kate!

  5. I hope you take this in the right way. It has to do with your own desire. I look at this photo and feel nothing. Bc i think the nursery i dream of looks nothing like this. You are not envious of what you dont desire. I first saw this an thought. Honestly whats the big deal you can probably repricate this wo spending thousands at pottery barn. So i guess the issue is envy is an illusion. You ask someone like me! And their perspective is widely different. In fact i can probably see things you cant see. But of course to our hearts it means nothing which is why we cannot listen to our hearts. And be thankful for what were given. Bc someone is probably envious of what we have that we think is worth little

  6. The other thing is what if we are himming and hawing over things and God has so much more to give us, but instead we block our blessings thinking what someelse has is so much better. I come from a broken home and for years i wished i had what others had a perfect life and instead of tganking God for the extremeing involved parents i had and thanking God i wasnt an orphan with nobody i was angry i didnt have the waltons. Im grown now. If the waltons had been perfect there would b no show. No on would watch

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