My Christmas wish list as a kid looks mild compared to the one I have as an adult. As a kid, I would have been satisfied with far less. A few toys would have made my dreams come true and kept me busy for several days. Now I want more than ever before. I want BIG things too. If you wanted to you could say that I want big kid toys, nicer clothes, bigger kitchen gadgets, cooler crafting supplies, etc. My husband and I have both talked about how easy it is to slip into a Give Me attitude or a I Need This now mentality.
Just this last week, I was reminded how necessary it is for me as a Christian to guard my heart and mind from the sins of discontentment and dissatisfaction. When the time came for my husband to make the decision to switch his career and possibly take a pay cut, at least for a while, I found myself quickly trying to figure out how to not have to cut any uncomfortable corners in my life. I mean, I can change to a cheaper laundry detergent and maybe even start picking up more odd jobs and such to help stretch money but discontentment was quickly welling up inside of me as I thought of purchases of items that I wanted that would be delayed if not completely given up. How sad is that? My husband was switching careers and finding a path that was going to be making him so much happier and allow him to spend much more time with me (and our soon to arrive baby). Instead of rejoicing over the obvious advantages that were coming, I could just not get my mind off of “stuff.”
Enter the Holy Spirit working in my heart and life to teach me a lesson I know I needed (and will need) to learn over and over again in my lifetime. God placed the Bible verse of Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your lives free of the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ “
It was like a stake to my heart. I was not trusting God for even the most basic of provisions in my life. I was making money an idol in my life and mind. It was consuming my thoughts and time and passions in ways that only God should consume me. I certainly was not being content with all the wonderful blessings God had given me recently. I was not spending time in God’s presence to remind myself that He would never leave me or forsake. It was no wonder there was no peace or contentment in my heart. Without God being at the center of one’s life, it is impossible to experience true peace or joy about anything.
So the past few weeks, God has really impressed on me how to change my habits to refocus on Him and to practice contentment.
First, I have made my morning devotional time a priority again. It is amazing how just a few minutes of starting my day in God’s Word and prayer can really change the whole tone of my day! It forces my mind back to what is truly important-my relationship with God. And with my mind on Christ, it is easier to block out ridiculous fears and silly fretful thoughts.
Second, I have been making a prioritized to-do list for my days so that I don’t just end up spending my days looking at Pinterest or Facebook. While checking them a few times in my day is not bad, I find that extended periods of time spent on these sites leads me to crave things and situations that are not available to me nor that I need. So when I limit my time spent on focusing on what I don’t have and spend more time taking care of things and situations that I do have, it leads me to be much more calm about the future.
Third, God really has challenged me to not focus on money all the time. That includes reading financial blogs non-stop, checking my online bank account every few hours (even when I know that there hasn’t been a change in days!), and mentally obsessing over money making schemes. You see, I love dealing with financial “stuff.” In high school, I feel in love with the business aspect of finances. In college, I joyfully completed hours of spread sheets for accounting classes that I took. Dealing with finances is a relaxing action for me. I know that sounds crazy but it has always been that way. God gave me a joy in working with money. However, that gift and that joy is easily tainted with the love of money. Therefore, I have to take time away from financial reading and actions to remind myself that the world is so much more than just stark numbers.
That is why this is not the first time that God has been teaching me to be content and why I am sure it will not be the last. But I am thankful that it is something that He is patient to teach me. I want to be able to echo the Apostle Paul when he said in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” That is my prayer that I will continue to learn and practice contentment.
How do you practice habits in your life that lead to contentment? What lessons has God been showing you lately? Please leave a comment and let me know. I love to hear how others are growing in their walks with God!