I don’t know how to start this blog post or how to put into a catchy story the latest challenge the Lord has laid on my heart. But, I have learned so much in such a short time I simply can’t keep it to myself.
About a year ago, maybe longer, I read a blog post entitled “Contentment Challenge”. It was a post on Lara Casey’s blog, who I avidly followed at the time and I remember as I read it the amount of conviction that stirred my heart. I also remember the fear that kept me from taking the challenge at the time.
You can read the post here for all the details, but in short the challenge forces you to stop focusing on what you don’t have, and instead make the most of what you do have. Theoretically, it’s a great idea. However, we all know that putting that idea into practice is much harder than it seems.
Though I don’t regret the words I said in my previous post, nor am I ashamed of the emotions, I did feel overwhelmingly convicted over the jealousy that had taken root in my heart. Granted, this jealousy wasn’t a seed planted by miscarriage. (Please note strong feelings of jealousy and anger around Mother’s Day after losing a child are completely normal). It was a seed that had been planted long ago, and my miscarriage only watered the discontent and resentment that was already established. Mother’s Day, and the emotions that followed exposed my battle with jealousy, and also with lack of contentment.
How so? I found myself shopping, again. I found myself buying more useless clutter to pile into our tiny rent house. I found myself spending an entire weekend cleaning and catching up on laundry-for the fifth weekend in a row because there was so much stuff to organize. I found myself buried in my phone and liking every picture posted of a baby or of another girl looking stylish and expensive. I found myself justifying purchases because we didn’t have children. I found myself pining for attention from anyone that would give it to me. I found myself craving approval and desperately wanting to appear “better”.
During this realization, I looked up Lara Casey’s post regarding contentment. The challenge she discussed in her post was not going to be easy. However, I knew deep in my heart this was something the Lord wanted me to do, no matter how uncomfortable it made me. Lara’s steps are outlined on the post, but I tweaked mine just a tad…
I began first by de-cluttering. For some strange reason, I have an emotional attachment to everything anyone ever gives me. For this challenge, those emotional ties were severed as I successfully donated 15 bags of clothes and household items to Goodwill. (I have only done the inside of the house, not the storage building yet).
Secondly, I butchered my wardrobe-literally. If I didn’t love it, or if it didn’t fit, it went to Goodwill. Also, I gathered all my t-shirts of significance to be made into a quilt so they were out of my drawers. I also threw away old pajamas, workout shorts, etc. Nobody has time or room for that.
After what I lovingly referred to as “The Great Purge”, I made a promise to myself not to buy anything other than necessities for the next 3 months. THIS IS THE HARDEST THING EVER. I almost hyperventilated in Target and told Jon I had to leave the Bargain Hunt because it was almost like putting an alcoholic in a bar-I couldn’t handle it. But, so far so good.
Though I’ve only partaken in this challenge for roughly three weeks, I can tell such a difference in myself. For one thing, I spend a lot more time with Jon. When I’m not stopping to shop, or going to town to shop on weekends, I’m able to help Jon on the farm (which is where I should be as his helpmate). Another thing, my housework isn’t near as hard to maintain. When there is less stuff in general, it takes longer for the house to get unorganized. My space is clean and does a world of good for my anxiety. I also find that I would much rather invest in experiences rather than expenses. A good book, a Sunday nap and a look at my own hometown are worth far more than the items on sale at Target.
As Lara also mentioned in her post, at the end of the day, this challenge really has nothing to do with stuff. It has nothing to do with rules or with organization or with checking off a to-do list. I’m not trying to set a trend or prove anything to anyone by doing this challenge, which is also why I waited to post anything. I want to be happy. I want to be fulfilled. I want to be overflowing. The only way I will truly be happy and fulfilled is to be overflowing with Jesus. But how can I possibly let him overflow in me, if I don’t even give myself room to breathe? I don’t just mean physically (stuff) but mentally as well. I need my soul to be vulnerable and open for HIM to take root and prune the bad stuff (jealousy, discontent, etc) out.
Want to join me on the Contentment Challenge? Check out Lara’s post here for all of the “guidelines” or make your own. Be sure to share any pictures or progress by posting in the discussion below, or tagging me on social media. I would love to cheer you on!