This is one of the biggest things I’ve been learning lately. I’m excited to write about it, embarrassed that I am just now understanding these things at 30, and humbled to realize that I’ll surely have to learn it over and over again.
I’ve always struggled with contentment. (Can I get an “Amen”?) I’m in an unusual situation when it comes to contentment with money and material things, because I’ve had to go without for a long time, but I’ve always known that a date was coming (Summer 2007) when things would change dramatically, and I could have at least some of the things I’d been lacking and desiring for so long. During all these struggles, I have defined contentment as being content with what I have right now because I know it is temporary, and someday I’ll have nice things and I won’t have to be discontent anymore. I wouldn’t have come out and said it that way, but that’s definitely the way I was looking at things. A temporary lesson in contentment. Because materialism is where I struggle the most with contentment, and of course, we all know that once you have more money, you are also more content with your marriage, kids, etc., right?!? (I hope you’re picking up on the sarcasm there.)
So the magic date when all my dreams come true is approaching–really, it is here. Several months ago, I sat down to do a budget for our new life with a “real doctor” paycheck. To be honest, I was excited to see how much more I’d get to spend on myself. Eating out, not buying the kids’ clothes at Once Upon A Child–the whole big dream world. I was devastated to find out that once we paid taxes, tithed, and had a slightly larger house, the rest of the budget pretty much the same as it always has. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it took me a couple of weeks to get over it. I was reading a book at the time, loaned to me by my friend Amy about 4 years ago (yup, she knew 4 years ago I should read it, and I stashed it in my nightstand because I didn’t want to), called God and Your Stuff. The title says it all. One thing God taught me through that book is that if I’m not content right now (at the time, that meant being content with very little), then I would never be content with more. I got the fact that I couldn’t just keep looking to the future to solve my contentment problems, because the future never would. So I tried to just keep mustering up contentment for the present.
Now, several months later, I think I’ve finally figured out why my attempts to be content weren’t truly working. I could muster up some contentment for awhile, try to be thankful for what I have because so many people have less, know God wants to teach me lessons about how to handle money, blah, blah, blah. But it wouldn’t last, and soon enough, I’d be envying someone else’s furniture and being certain that I’d be so much happier if the only designer in my closet wasn’t the guy from Target.
Recently, I was searching God’s Word on a totally unrelated subject, and I still don’t know how it happened, but I came across a series of verses that totally changed my perspective on contentment. The verses were:
Psalm 27:4–One thing have I asked of the LORD, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 16:11–You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Philippians 4:19–And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
I realized that I was discontent because I am seeking after the wrong things. Instead of trying to be content with less stuff, I need to take my eyes off the stuff and put them on Christ. I’m seeking comfort, approval from others, an easy life, beautiful things, less worry about money. Those things will never be enough, no matter how much money we have. But if I’m seeking the Lord, a more intimate relationship with Him, a greater knowledge of my heavenly Father, to see His beauty as I worship Him–He has promised to give me all of these things with a fullness of joy I’ve never imagined. If I desire Him, that desire will be fulfilled–completely and eternally. That is true contentment.
This is a work-in-progress in my life. I’m still way too excited about that first “real” paycheck, and it is hard to not get caught up in my new house and all the great things I’m getting to put in it. Please pray for me that I will be seeking Christ, and Him alone, and that the stuff that He gives us will be used for His glory and not my own.Share