I have many struggles and I try to be very transparent as I write each week. One topic the Lord keeps pressing upon my heart to write about is contentment. As women, I feel this is an area the majority of us struggle with. Whether it be with our jobs, our parenting or material possessions, we often feel discontent, which leads into comparison of others, which then leads to envy and jealousy.
First you have to know, I married a guy that is so laid back and wants of nothing. Truly, he will wait until Christmas to ask for new under shirts. He just does not require material things. But guess what, he married quite the opposite of himself. If you blindly give me 3 pairs of shoes to choose from, I will more times than not pick the most expensive. Can anyone relate? I am not sure how I got that way because that was not how I was raised. This has been an area in our marriage that we have really had to work on through the years.
Just the other day I was reminded how quickly discontentment can creep in. My husband and I were having a conversation about how far I had come with contentment and I told him I felt the Lord pressing on me to write a blog about it, and then these two things you are about to read happened...I am not kidding, they happened that very day! I guess I was patting myself on the back a little too hard!
We recently received a death sentence on our vehicle. Spend a good amount of money to get it fixed or get something new because it will be too dangerous to drive. With our van having 230,000 miles on it, we struggled with putting money in it, but we also knew that now is not the time to be buying a vehicle. So, I told my husband I was fine trying to get more time out of the van and truly, I was completely content with that decision. Well, that SAME day, we received a group text from a family member standing in front of their new SUV. OUCH! I felt a kick to the stomach. All that I thought I had overcome came creeping back in!
That same day I had told my husband that I would like to upgrade my phone, but again, we know now is not the time. Do you know what happened that night? We received another family text sending us videos from their new iPhone 10. Ok Lord...I am listening!
I tell you these two stories because I know we as women are faced with these things everyday. It may not be cars or iPhones, but it may be a house, being a stay at home mom, designer clothing, etc. I am so thankful the Lord tested me that day, because it was a reminder that I have to truly believe what I am writing to you about and boy was that a reality check!
Here are some practical things that our family does to help overcome the issue of discontentment.
1. Focus on Christ:
We try to be intentional and keep our focus on Christ instead of what the world tells us to focus on. Is it always easy, not at all! Satan loves to creep in and grab hold of our weaknesses. We have to remember that God has created each of us in His image (Gen.1:27) and He wants to use us in different ways. Most of us have read this verse and can probably recite it, but do we really believe it?
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Embrace that truth! He LOVES each of His children and He holds us in the palm of His hand, so why can't we trust Him completely? Our lives will look different than someone else’s and that’s okay! A phrase my husband loves to use is, “bloom where you are planted.” There are different seasons of life, but one thing remains true, God has placed each of us exactly where we are for a reason. Take full advantage and be the best YOU can be, with Christ guiding your steps. Don’t try to be who your neighbor is, or who your best friend is. God has a completely different path for you and it is good!
There are very few people in this world that can have the best of everything and not be in debt up to their eyeballs. One thing we have decided is that we don’t want debt. It’s easier for us to lay our heads down at night knowing that we are not enslaved to banks and “things”.
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. Proverbs 22:7
There is a blog I follow, Becoming Minimalist (go follow him). He recommends that the “spender” of the family be in charge of the finances. I'll give you one guess who that is in our home! My husband used to always handle the finances and I spent whatever I wanted and expected him to tell me there was still money in the bank. Well, that’s not quite how it works. Two years ago I took over paying all the bills, and it’s amazing how content I am because I see first hand what’s coming in and what’s going out. It has worked extremely well for us.
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. - Matthew 6:24
We have found that the more we are thankful and the more we give back and do for others, the easier it is to be content with what we have. We may not have all that the world views as “success”, but we truly have so much more! Look around...I know you do too!
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thess. 5:18
4. We're a team:
There have been times in our marriage when I have worked 50-60 hours a week and times when I have worked part-time. I have tried not working at all, but the Lord seems to keep putting opportunities in my path. As the spender, I know that if I choose to work part-time or not at all, there are sacrifices that have to be made. It’s give and take. I don’t want to put all of the pressure on my husband. He works so hard everyday and he needs my respect and if I desire to buy more or go more, I need to step up and help with the income.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. Ecclesiastes 4:9
This is a rather timely post with Thanksgiving right around the corner. I have found when I am intentional about being thankful for what the Lord has blessed me with, I am much more content with what the Lord has blessed me with.
I would like to challenge you to take some time in the next couple of weeks and write down on paper what you are thankful for. I would also like to challenge you to do something for someone else because it truly is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35 ).
Show someone this Thanksgiving that you are thankful for them. Maybe it’s that one person you have been comparing yourself to or your life with? Just remember...at the end of the day, if you have Jesus, you have enough!
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!