We talked about the Biblical aspect of self-control and God’s role here, so today we are talking about our role. Sometimes, I leave it all up to God because I know He is the one who changes hearts and transforms me. This passage that I shared in the previous post has been so powerful to remind me that I have a role too though.
As the Hebrews were promised the land, but had to take it by force, one town at a time, so we are promised the gift of self-control, yet we also must take it by force.” Source
It is so funny how God works. I started the Contentment Challenge (started by Nancy Ray!) on February 1. I was hoping it would teach me about contentment and spending less. As I mentioned on Wednesday, I have a shopping problem. You may not find me out and about at the mall every week but online shopping is a struggle for me. I shop for things I THINK I need for a successful business, to help me stay organized, to motivate me to work out, the list goes on. And having a business account means I can look picture perfect to my husband because I NEVER buy clothes with our personal account. At the end of the year, this miscellaneous category that cannot be written off as a business expense is technically considered my income. This makes me cringe!! I would never spend the amount of money I spend on clothes and other items if it were transparent to my husband as the number I see in this category. Just being honest here.
As I’ve researched this whole self-control issue and started this contentment challenge, I have come to tie the two together. If our hearts are content, we don’t need these things that we indulge in without thinking. Imagine being OK or dare I say happy without the things that currently so easily tangle us and are the whole reason for us needing to learn self-control.
So what is this Contentment Challenge? You may remember me having Nancy Ray share a guest post on the topic last year but here are the basics:
No shopping for 3 months for anything but necessities: no clothes, no home goods while strolling through Target, etc. Instead putting that energy into enjoying life’s little pleasures that God brings instead of things, giving away clothes and reading inspiring books. Books I am reading during the Contentment Challenge: Profit First, 7 and The Fringe Hours. I would also recommend The Hole in the Gospel, Margin, 168 Hours and Love, Skip, Jump.
1. I read all of Nancy’s posts on Contentment Challenge to get inspired and motivated. Here is a round up of all of them. I even read posts written by other people who were doing the challenge. I found it super encouraging and really helped me get psyched up about doing the challenge.
2. I journaled on the first day to prepare my heart and to really commit. I didn’t want to say a month from now that it just kind of fizzled out because I didn’t REALLY say I was going to do a whole three months. I also wanted to be able to look back on it at the end to see where I had come from.
3. I am spending more time in my Gratitude Journal as well. I think this will keep me focused on all I do have which makes for a content heart.
4. I unsubscribed from every Gap email and all the other ones too. I used Unroll.me. Even if you have done this in the past, it may be time to do again. Getting emails saying I had GapCash to spend was sooo tempting. I like to think I’m smart enough to know these are marketing ploys, but I still get hooked! It’s the fear of missing out rearing it’s ugly head. Unsubscribing was harder than I thought. What if I need to buy something and I miss a good deal?? And don’t get me started with Likeittoknowit. I’m still getting over this one.
I can tell you I am already learning so much! Here were some thoughts from Day 1:
1. I love how limitations force creativity. The weather was warmer than usual and though my winter wardrobe is fine, my warmer wardrobe for my current figure (which is not exactly the same as last summer) is not great. Day 1 and I already was thinking, I need to get new clothes! I ended up finding something new to pair together. And ironically, it started raining while we were walking in to church. I got pretty soaked and was quickly reminded, had I had on the perfect new outfit, I would have been just as drenched and probably bummed.
2. I noticed my limitations with my wardrobe have lowered my expectations for how I dressed. Knowing spending is possible means there is always this subconscious higher standard to achieve. And if you have money to spend, you are always striving for it. When you can’t spend the money, you just kind of decide it doesn’t matter. No more striving. I’m OK wearing the same thing over and over again. It has been incredibly freeing.
3. I want to live free. The sermon title for today, this Day 1 of my challenge was Unshackled. How incredibly fitting. I tell y’all, God is hitting me at all angles with this message of a life of freedom that can only come when THINGS are not my answer.
I am now on Day 20 and I have definitely seen a shift in my thought process. I had to buy Vivi a few things because she is growing like a weed. There were necessities BUT hopping online to buy “necessities” is normally my gateway drug to buying the cute white keds I just noticed, or maybe a bathing suit and a much pricier paid of PJs than were really necessary. As I mentioned yesterday, online shopping is my weakness and the few necessities in my cart would have justified all my purchases. This time at checkout, I deleted 4 things from my cart. It was sad. (She would have looked so cute in the keds.) But so liberating. I didn’t need to buy them to be happy. And that made me VERY happy!
I can’t wait to keep sharing about what I learn over the next three months. If you are anything like me, you might read this and think it sounds cool, but doesn’t really fit your season/lifestyle/personality/etc. This was me the first time I heard about it. I was pregnant and by golly (can I pull off saying ‘by golly’?), I had things to shop for. Vivi is 16 months old now so I thought it was time to stop making excuses. This lesson will be waiting for us to learn until we learn it so don’t put it off like I did! I regret not starting earlier (because who ever regretted learning to love things less?) but I’m so glad I have started. I’d love you for to join me so we can encourage each other through it!!