What no shopping for 3 months taught me

For July, August and September, I committed to the Contentment Challenge. Check out Nancy Ray’s resource here all about it! It’s basically no shopping for clothes, decor or all the extras we come home with after a trip to Target. The goal is not just to curb our spending but to change our heart first and foremost. I learned a ton from the experience and wanted to share those lessons with y’all. 

What the Contentment Challenge Taught Me | Val Marie PaperWhy share now two months later?? Because I’m the queen of shopping for Christmas gifts for others and tucking a few things in the cart for myself too!! These “can’t miss” deals have me feeling like I’m an absolute moron if I DON’T by that sweater for 50%. First off, marketing is supposed to make you feel like you have to have something! I’m not saying don’t buy yourself something for the next month before Christmas BUT I am saying, be cautious! We know we won’t find true satisfaction apart from Jesus, but boy do we try! Here are a few random lessons I have learned:

1. I want to get this message of contentment now because the lesson will still be waiting for me later if I don’t. I literally thought to myself that I wanted to postpone it after (fill in reason to spend money here). Then I realized how silly this sounded. The whole reason I did the Contentment Challenge is to learn contentment. It’s for my good. It’s not a prison sentence that I’m trying to postpone. It’s good change in my life I wanted to postpone. 

2. This was my prayer. “Lord, help me redefine my definition of need.” We convince ourself we need a lot more than we really do. It’s a heart issue, not just a shopping issue.

3. Why do I feel such anxiety over getting rid of clothes that I might one day by chance need? I forget the reality. And the reality is if I don’t have the perfect thing to wear for something it is not the end of the world. I have something to wear. That is the simplest truth in the world that might even sound dumb to acknowledge but I don’t live like this. It’s why I have clothes from years and years ago that I haven’t touched and save for that one day that I might want to wear it when the reality is if I love something I wear all the time.

4. It’s been a few weeks since I started the contentment challenge and I haven’t bought anything except one thing that we had been needing. But here’s where my head was today. I couldn’t even think of anything I needed, I just had a hankering to find a package on my front door when I got home. There is a very short-lived excitement when we see a fresh package on our doorstep! And here I was, with not a single actual need, but still craving it almost like an addiction. If you have this itch that has to have a package, maybe going cold turkey 3 months (ala The Contentment Challenge) is the answer! And from my experience, it’s gonna make you squirm and maybe even get withdrawal headaches but there’s freedom when we don’t have to be dependent on an Amazon box to spark joy.

5. This quote from Richard Swenson: “Divorce your thinking from society’s relativistic standards. God says, ‘Be content,’ not ‘Be content if …’ “

6. There is a better use of my time than shopping. We went to the beach and just had to go to the outlet. Normally there is a nice rainy day to do this but we hadn’t had one yet and didn’t want to be there for our last beach day. I spent the 2 1/2 hours bemoaning what a dumb decision it was to be frustratingly trying on clothes in a dressing room instead of enjoying the sunshine. And yes, this was during my contentment challenge. I left with two shirts that I didn’t need and said no to a lot of other things because of the challenge but it was a really big reminder that the time alone that shopping takes is not how I want to remember my life. 

2020 Yearly Prayer Journal 

FIND FOCUS. ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS. EXPERIENCE GOD.

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7. From Awe by Paul David Tripp: “You should never feel guilty for pursuing, participating in, and enjoying the pleasure of the material world God created. What you and I need to guard against is allowing awe of those pleasures to become the principal motivator of our hearts. When awe of material things rules your heart, then you will live for material things, and when you live for material things, you will do just about anything to gain them, maintain them, keep them and enjoy them.” The small example that came to mine for me was Lacroix. I love an iced cold Pamplemoose Lacroix once the girls go down for a now. The problem isn’t me enjoying it. The problem is if I HAVE to have it. If we don’t have an extra $3 in the weekly budget and I still insist it’s necessary to my joy. 

Have you done the Contentment Challenge? What was the biggest lesson you learned from it?

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