Contentment Challenge: Fall 2014

There is so much I want to post and share about all that has happened since the wedding, and I simply haven’t had the time to post.

In the meantime, I want to write about something that is really on my heart. Our pastor just finished an amazing series on relationships and one of my biggest takeaways during Week 5’s message was to learn what it means to live with contentment.

“…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be  content.” – Phil 4:11

This could apply in so many areas of my life, but in most areas I am content: my marriage, my family, my friendships, and (most days) my job. However, I am really struggling with being content with my finances.

It has nothing to do with how much I make, but instead how I manage what I make. Zach and I have a budget in place and I really want to focus on sticking to it on my end. I am terrible about going into Target with a list of things we need and coming out spending more money than I should have on things that could have waited. (Perfect example: Last night I went in for a new universal remote and came out with the remote, socks, a shirt, and a Blu-Ray. None of those items were necessary, but I was able to validate them to myself because they were on sale. Sheesh.) Then it takes me a few days to stop feeling guilty for my extra, unnecessary purchases and that kind of inward beating just isn’t good for me. I don’t need the extras and I need to learn to be content with what I already have so that there is no need to justify an unplanned purchase.

Earlier this year I participated in a Contentment Challenge that I had read about from Lara Casey and Nancy Ray (which I said I would blog about, and then didn’t). However, looking back, in the midst of wedding planning I don’t really feel like I was able to participate with a full heart. If nothing else, I probably rationalized my “fasting” as a way to save for the wedding. While that’s not a bad reason to eliminate unnecessary spending, it’s not exactly the purpose behind the challenge.

This time, I am not doing the challenge to meet a goal or save up for a big purchase (or event), but rather to become more disciplined in my finances and learn what it means to trust fully and completely in God for my contentment. I don’t need things and stuff to fulfill me; that’s what my relationship with God is meant to be.

So, as a way to keep myself accountable, I am posting the guidelines for my Contentment Challenge below. I will do this starting tomorrow, October 1, and finish on December 31. Here’s to seeking (and finding) contentment in the upcoming holiday season. I can’t think of a better time of year to focus on being content and grateful for all that I’ve already been given.

I would love to know if you choose to join me in this challenge, even if yours is different from mine. We’re in this together!

Guidelines (amended from Nancy and Lara’s posts linked earlier):

I will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and “stuff” for 3 months, to focus my heart and mind on the root of true contentment. I will actively pursue fulfilling activities that will replace my addiction [it makes me wince to think of how true that word is] to material things.

• Choose 1-3 inspiring books to read during this time. Other bloggers recommend  Seven, Weird, and 1000 Gifts,  which I hope to get to. I’ve read part of 1000 Gifts before, but never all the way through. I’m excited! (Feel free to leave additional recommendations in the comments!)

Update (4/8/15): Seven is one of the best books I have EVER read. It is a must-read if you want to reflect on how to focus on what matters and rid yourself of the rest. 

• Gifts are okay to receive and give as necessary. So don’t worry, I won’t miss Christmas.

Necessities are okay! Just don’t start justifying new purchases for items that you already have. 

• Take at least 1 3-day break from social media per month to enjoy the here and now’s rather than the whatever everyone else is doing. As I’ve discussed before, comparison is the thief of joy (sub contentment in this case).

Actively pursue something – anything – that replaces tendency to buy stuff. I’ve joined a gym five minutes from our apartment and really want to start going 3 times a week.

 

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