The Struggle With Contentment

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:11-12

This is the mindset I strive for, yet struggle with constantly.  I also think it’s completely safe to say I’m not alone.  The Survey of Consumer Finances by the U.S. Federal Government said the average American credit card debt is $5,700.00.  The average American household carries $137, 063 in debt.  The U.S. Census Bureau also report the median household income is $59,039, which suggests that many of us are living beyond our means.

I feel the struggle constantly.  I feel content when I’m sitting in my house, surrounded by my family, knowing that we have food in our fridge, clothes on our bodies, and a roof over our heads.  Then I log online, or go to the store, and suddenly realize all of these items that I am lacking in life.  Contentment is something I’ve really been trying to focus on lately, so I wanted to share a few thoughts I am using right not to try to help myself with being content.

  1. I would be remiss if my first suggestions wasn’t to pray for God to give you a heart of contentment.  I am often requesting this myself and praying that He would help me to focus on my blessings more than what I am lacking.
  2. “Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.”  I am drooling over white Birkenstock sandals, and have been for probably a good half a year.  I already own a few pairs of Birks, so even if I could afford them, should I add another pair when I already have some in good condition?
  3. On the other hand, if I CAN’T at the moment (i.e. have to use a credit card to purchase) I probably shouldn’t.  A credit card is not actual money we have, it is a debt we would bring upon ourselves.
  4. If I didn’t know I needed that item before I logged online or went to the store, there is a great chance that I don’t really need the item.
  5. Lastly, I try to give myself some time if I feel like I am wanting something. If I really feel like I need a new flannel shirt, I give myself a month or so to sit on it.  Often times, if it was just a want on a whim, I won’t be thinking about it a month later.

After all this, I want to say, I don’t think it’s bad to treat yourself sometimes.  I just don’t think it’s worth going into debt and making other areas in life hard.  We live in a time where we are constantly receiving suggestions on what would make us happier, our outfits perfect, give us perfect skin, etc.  It is important, though, that we learn to discern the cost of these items.

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