Enhanced – read by the author
water-color painting of RV
with Todd Wilson
Keep Your Curtains Closed and ENVY on the Couch
Van driving on the road

ave I ever told you about my family? My wife, Debbie, is my everything. I met her at Purdue, fell in love with her sparkle, and married her almost thirty-three years ago. Together, we make an amazing team and have eight children, four of whom are married. We are expecting our eighth grandchild by the end of the summer.

We also have a dog with a piercing bark and… our RV, The Familyman Mobile (queue the heavenly background music). Thirty-eight feet of pure, mechanical wonder. We’ve renovated her three times over the last fifteen years, and this year we celebrate her thirtieth anniversary. The old girl gleams like an ocean liner and purrs like a panther. She’s traveled from the New York island to the Gulf Stream waters a dozen times, has supplied us with hundreds of memories, and is as dependable as the day is long. She’s perfect… that is until I drive by the Newmar RV manufacturing plant a mere ten miles from my home.

This usually happens on my way to pick up food for dinner when I pass the plant that produces the Cadillac of RVs. Outside, there are thirty to forty $500,000+ units all setting in a shiny row. You should see their spectacular paint jobs and gleaming bodies. With 500 horsepower under them, it’s enough to take your breath away.

It is at that precise moment that I picture my RV in my head and think, “I’m driving a donkey cart! It’s a piece of junk. I’m surprised it even runs. Probably won’t make it down the road to Walmart, let alone to Florida, Texas, or even our city limits!”

You see, that’s what comparison does. It unleashes a little “critter” that lives deep in our hearts called ENVY.

I looked up the word envy and this is what it says: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing that is aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, luck… or BLESSINGS.

ENVY lives in you and me. It spends lots of time sleeping on the couch like my dog, but when the doorknob to the front door turns (announcing an intruder, a family member, or a delivery) it arouses the beast.

“Today, we have more than one window to peek out of and more than one neighbor to spy on. Through social media, we have millions of windows and millions of neighbors to compare our homeschool and homes against.”
For a homeschooling mom, it isn’t a knock on the door, but a friend’s twelve-year-old son who just completed his master’s degree. It’s a fellow mom’s house that is as big as an airport concourse or so clean it could be used as an operating room. Or, it’s a social media post relating a cute story about how obedient and respectful her children are.

Suddenly the children you used to love, the home you used to enjoy, and the homeschool that used to make you smile now feel like a burden to bear, an enemy to battle, and a task to endure.

ENVY: that mean little critter that steals smiles and saps your joy. It takes a smiling homeschooler and reduces her to a joyless mess.

And it all begins with COMPARISON.

I’m thinking that’s what happened to the first two homeschooled kids, Cain and Abel. You know the account. The brothers offered their sacrifices to God and God was pleased with Abel’s but not with Cain’s and then one brother killed the other.

Now in order to avoid a lengthy discussion on what type of sacrifice is acceptable to God, let me just say that somehow Cain compared himself to Abel and his sacrifice and wanted him dead.

A girl looking out the window
That’s what happens… comparison leads to envy, and envy leads to murder, and murder leads to the dark side—or at least that’s what Yoda said to Luke… I think. Maybe not, but the truth is comparison does lead to envy and envy leads to bad things. Bad things like discontentment, sadness, and the feeling of failure and defeat. It causes you to look at those you love the most as enemies and obstacles to having something you want.

The way you view your homeschool is similar to how I view my RV. You like the groove you’re in… you like your curriculum, read-alouds, and other things you’re using. The kids and you are content with how things are going, but then you see a social media post of someone else’s homeschool and envy is aroused and begins to bark.

Now you worry you’re not doing enough… so you drive the kids harder. They begin to complain and fight back about all the boring school they have to do. You can’t finish before noon, so now you’re doing school in the afternoon, and you don’t have time to get other stuff done. You try to get it done in the evenings, but you’d also like to just enjoy yourself and relax like everyone else.

You’re mad at your kids for being hard, and your husband for not understanding or bringing the hammer down on the kids, and you get to the point where you look at homeschooling and your kids as roadblocks to your happy life. And then you see another social media post about what amazing meals other moms love fixing for their families and your envy monster is freaking out like a dog barking at the mailman through a glass door.

Yoda is right! Comparison leads to the dark side… the dark side of homeschooling, the dark side of family and marriage. It keeps you from enjoying today because you’re always looking for a better tomorrow. And guess what? That dream-tomorrow never comes.

Guilty? Of course, you are. We all are. We are comparison-addicts.
You get on social media and spend most of your day comparing and always end up on the short end of the stick. Always. Even if you think your meal looks better, you fill in the blanks and think… but I bet her husband was more appreciative, her kids more helpful, her house cleaner, and her heart happier. That’s just the way it works.

Do you want to hear my simple solution to keeping envy sleeping peacefully on the couch?

Don’t compare.
I think that’s what Paul was saying when he told those Thessalonians:
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and to attend to your own business and to work with your hands…”
–1 Thessalonians 4:11
He was urging them to live their lives and mind their own business—to keep their eyes on their own thing… not peeking out the window at their neighbor’s doings like some nosy Gladys Kravitz.

Today, we have more than one window to peek out of and more than one neighbor to spy on. Through social media, we have millions of windows and millions of neighbors to compare our homeschool and homes against.

So here’s my advice: keep your curtains closed. Mind your own homeschool. Mind your own family. Mind your own marriage. Mind your own RV! Homeschool your way. Be okay with your family, homeschool, and marriage as it is.

Keep envy on the couch and the curtains closed! You’re going to smile. I guarantee it. I need to go and apologize to my RV.
A digital signature mark of Todd Wilson
Todd Wilson headshot

odd Wilson, author of Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe and Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom, is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and gut-honest realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. Todd and his wife Debbie homeschool their eight children in northern Indiana and travel around America in the Familyman Mobile. You can visit Familyman Ministries at: www.familymanweb.com.