I struggle with coveting. There, I said it. I especially struggle with that whole “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house” (Exodus 20:17) bit. This hits me the most as I’m running. When you run, you get a different perspective on your surroundings than driving. Driving is to quick – a cursory glance can too easily distract you from the road. But with running, you can take it all in.
My running routes often take me west across the state line and into Leawood, KS. Now, for those geographically inclined, I live less than a mile east of the state line in Kansas City, MO. I love my neighborhood and its 1950’s ranch style homes each telling a different story about its previous owners. I love its proximity to the Ward Parkway Mall (and lets be honest, Trader Joes and Target). I absolutely love my neighbors and all the small kids toddling around. I am more often than not content.
That is, until I’m on my run in Leawood (and before you tell me to stop running in Leawood, let me get to my point).
The houses where I run are located in Leawood’s historic district. They are charming with beautifully manicured lawns, shaded sidewalks, and “perfect” little parks. Children are outside playing without a care. People are walking or running, often in pairs. It’s your quintessential picturesque neighborhood. I doubt they are talking about that house down the road with the potential drug dealers (not that we ever thought or talked about that…).
The grass is literally greener across the state line.
But why do I let their grass have such an effect on my contentment? In Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God, Tim Keller states that “the Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus. Whether it’s to succeed in our chosen field or have a certain relationship – or even to get up and walk – we’re saying ‘If I have that, if I get my deepest wish, then everything will be okay.’ You’re looking to that thing to save you from oblivion, from disillusionment, from mediocrity. You’ve made that wish into your savior.”
When I run through areas of the metro that I wish I lived in, it brings up the desire for a bigger house, a well attended lawn (not that mine isn’t, but you get the point), the seemingly perfect life. The houses represent a certain wealth, a certain status, a certain place in life that seems so distant from my current position.
I am making all of those things my savior. I am rooting my identity in what bricks and mortar mean on this earth.
God has blessed me oh so much. I have a roof over my head. I have food on the table. I have a husband who has an income, who provides, who loves, who cherishes. I have a healthy, beautiful baby girl. But so much more than that, I have a Savior who so richly loves me, who bestows upon me grace upon grace, even as that pinch of dissatisfaction tugs on my heart as I run.
So, I will keep running through Leawood, and attempt to turn my coveting nature into prayers for mercy and thanksgiving.