Friday, November 18, 2011

finding contentment

The other day I took my girls to the mall to help me start some Christmas shopping for their teachers and a few cousins. The constant whining and begging for things they saw on the shelves was enough to make me want to scream.

Even in the Bath & Body Works store where you'd think it wouldn't be a big deal for kids - well, it was!

I gave them several sentence-lectures on how this wasn't about them. How not only will other people be shopping for them for Christmas like we are for others - but that they have so many things at home that they don't actually even need anything else. I asked them: How many toys do you have that you don't even play with? How many books do you have that you never even read? How many movies do you have that you don't watch? How many clothes do you have in your closet that you never even wear????

Their need for greed was really making me frustrated.

And then I stopped to think about where they were getting this from. Sure, they get it from TV and the 'outside world' in general. But who do they model after the most?

Their parents. And being girls, probably particularly their mother. Umm...yeah, that would be me.

The same things I was lecturing them about could've - and should've - been directed at me as well. How often do I grab something off of the shelves at a store while walking by because, quite simply, I just want it? It might not necessarily be a big item, but an un-needed item at any cost is being greedy isn't it?

I'm not saying that we can't ever allow ourselves luxuries - small things that make us happy just because. But for myself, if I'm going to teach & lecture my girls about being content with what they have...shouldn't I be taking my own advice?

This lesson comes at a very convenient time for me right now. I just discovered yesterday that my casual-time job is being turned into a full-time position. As that is just not an option for our family at this point in time, it means that in 8 weeks I will be out of work. And while my hours may only have been around 15 hours per week, it all adds up. I have never NOT brought in an income to help out our family.

But now - with limited part-time options that will work with my girls' schedules and the important need to be home with them before and after school - that record just might get broken.

And if that happens, the way we spend money around here is going to have to change. But regardless of whether or not a new way of earning income comes my way, I still want to make changes. Sure, it was nice to have the luxury to buy extra things just because we wanted to. But how frivolous is it okay to be?

I want to start taking a closer look around me at the things I own and how necessary it all really is. One of my weaknesses - as you all know - are purses. And that's the one thing that popped into my head as I was lecturing my daughters the other day about having way more than what they need. Oh it really necessary for you to own 8 purses? Do you always need a different colored accessory on your arm to go with any outfit? Or wouldn't a couple of neutral colored ones be enough?

If you are on the local Buy & Sell page on Facebook, you may have noticed that I listed 4 of my beautiful, very-loved purses just this morning. I hope they sell soon so I can use the money that I make from them on things that really matter. Things that are necessities for my family, not just frivolous luxuries for myself.

The purses are just one example, but I really do want to put this new thinking to good use in every aspect of my life. Just a couple of weeks ago I purchased Jillian Michaels' new work-out DVD, for example. Yes, I could argue that I do (and will continue to) put it to good use and it will benefit my health. But what about the other half-dozen Jillian Michaels' videos that I also own? Couldn't 3 or 4 of her videos be enough?

I'm just thinking out loud here (or via the keyboard, anyway) but I think you get my drift. I want to start walking the walk instead of just talking the talk. Afterall, how do I expect my 6 and 8 year olds to live out what I am preaching if I don't live it out myself?

I am yearning to find contentment on a much simpler scale than how I have currently been living.


LaughingLady said...

Our need for stuff is truly a disease. But it's SO much easier to deal with than the search for contentment. We have been forced to learn to live with less over the last few years, and yet when I think about what we are still spending money on and the things that occupy our minds in comparison with the vast majority of this world who have NOTHING by our standards...

Someday, when we don't HAVE to live with less, I want to continue living with less so we can give more. Like you said, this isn't to say we won't ever spend on anything frivolous or fleeting, but I want my focus to be giving more, not getting more.

And it bugs me that you didn't post this a month ago, so there would have been time for the girls and I to sell some of our things so we could pack up a couple more Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes!! ;) I completely forgot that I'd planned to make that an annual clean-up/fundraising event!!

The Brandt Family said...

This is something that has been on my mind A LOT lately.
We have SO much. Way more than we could ever need.
I've been trying to teach this lesson to my kids too.
Explaining that it IS better to give than to receive.
Sorry to hear about your job, that cannot be a fun experience to go through.

andrea said...

love you! love your heart. you are rich beyond world if you have wisdom like yours. Allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you and allowing to be molded....precious! I will pray about your job.

Melissa said...

Great transparent post Andrea.

Really enjoyed it!

pam said...

Thank you for this reminder. I think this is something that many people struggle with, myself included.

Anonymous said...

Very inspiring Andrea! We just had that same experience shopping with our girls in the mall today! I talked to them about being thankful for what they have etc etc. But, truth be much "stuff" do I buy just because I want it? And I don't have to ask anyone! I'm praying for you job situation. And your "ah ha" moment stays strong...especially next time you see a new beautiful purse in the store! We should just exchange some of our purses:) Love ya.