"The Tenth Commandment is unenforceable, even by oneself, even with the best will in the world, and it is violated constantly…. I believe the sin of covetise is that pang of resentment you may feel when even the people you love best have what you want and don't have. [T]here is nothing that makes a person's fallenness more undeniable than covetise – you feel it right in your heart, in your bones" (Gilead, 134).
I reread that page over and over again, as if each time I read it, a new light dawned upon my self-understanding. That 10th commandment isn't strictly about not wanting your neighbor's wife. At its heart, it's about not dwelling deeply on what you have no control over owning. In this realization, I understood the last few years of my discontentment with life. At times, I admit to allowing my unmet desires to dampen my very real blessings and answered dreams, and I've beat myself up for it because I couldn't understand how I could be so ungrateful for the things – both tangible and intangible – I have been given.
Most of the time I justify my ingratitude by saying that it is a good thing to have goals and dreams in life, that it is a good thing to strive, but it is a much better thing to thank the Lord for his daily blessings and to genuinely rejoice with those around me who have what I only wish I did. To be content with this life is to be rightfully proud of our accomplishments and graciously accepting of the hopes denied, I think. It is the latter which reminds me that though we have some sway in the direction of our lives, we are not the ultimate decision maker. To which I say, amen.