My heart is so full. As expected, Making Things Happen was every bit as inspiring and fulfilling as I imagined. For those of you who walked through those two days alongside me, I know you understand! The heart-change that happens is something you can't shake. My perspective on life and business is forever altered, and I'm so grateful.
This is my third time going through MTH, and each time one of the most powerful exercises we do is to complete this sentence: I am ____________. This time, my chosen word was content. I am content. This is something I've been thinking about for months now, but I've especially been simmering on it these past few days since MTH.
If you've been following me, you know that debt-free living is something my husband and I are incredibly passionate about. You know that we've led four Financial Peace University classes, you know that after years of sacrifice and "living like no one else," we finally paid off our house in December and reached Baby Step 7. Words cannot express how exciting that day was! How incredible it has been to pursue and achieve those dreams with my best friend!
When we reached Baby Step 7, I was expecting to start living the high life! I was excited to shop at Whole Foods, to go out to eat whenever we wanted, to revamp my wardrobe with new clothes (shopping is my weakness), to basically get whatever I wanted when I wanted it on our brand new budget. We increased our monthly spending in every category of our envelope system, and I was SO EXCITED.
Enter Princess Nancy. (The version of me that I do not like.) For the past two months, I have been spending more on food and clothes than I ever have before. To the average or "normal" person, it might not seem like a lot - but compared to the way we've been living, it was a whole lot. I've blown through the money we have at a much faster, much more frivolous rate, and I have NOT liked the way it feels. A few of our envelopes have been emptied halfway through the month, (yes, even with the increased budget,) and I was so disappointed in myself. It's left me feeling like a consumer-driven person, not a values-driven woman of God. For the millionth time (the Lord's patience with me never ends), I've learned that while "stuff" may bring temporary happiness, it never, EVER provides long term fulfillment or contentment!
Do you know what does provide fulfillment and contentment?
Quality time with those you love.
Being a good steward of your finances.
Giving stuff and money to those who need it.
Being thankful right where you are.
So, to be honest, my expectations have been shattered. I expected to work so hard and long for Baby Step 7 to find that life is so much easier and more fulfilling when I can buy what I want, when I want it! Let's shop here! Let's do this! Let's go crazy! Yay this is what I worked sooo hard for! Instead, I am finding TRUTH: Life is more fulfilling because we still choose to live on a budget and give money away to those who need it. Life is certainly not more fulfilling when I place my value in stuff!
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles, to abstain from the
passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. - 1 Peter 2:11
The Lord is so good. He never, ever leaves me to myself and my foolish desires. He is always refining me. He always brings me back to truth and what is really satisfying: Himself.
The truth is, I am to live a life marked with love, joy, peace, contentment, and self-disclipine.
The truth is, choosing to give my money and stuff away is much more gratifying than spending it on clothes for myself.
The truth is, we did not "arrive" when we paid off our house, but we must constantly be willing to learn and to change and to grow more into the likeness of Christ.
So, being grounded in truths, I've decided that I'm going to do something crazy, and I want to invite you to join me.
I'm going to give up shopping for new clothes or accessories or stuff for 3 months straight.
Am I crazy? Maybe. Do I need to do this? No. and Yes! No, because we have the ability to shop and enjoy life debt free, and there is nothing wrong with that! But YES, I need to do this because the Lord is calling me to this, and because I want to solidify the lessons of truth I've learned at Making Things happen with real and tangible action. Yes, because I am seeking a life of true contentment and fulfillment, and I will not settle for anything less!
And yes, you heard me. I'm inviting YOU to join me. If you feel like you want to hold your stuff a little more tightly, or if you feel like you simply could NEVER give up your weekly trips to Target, then you probably need to join me. Heck, I need you to join me! It hurts like crazy to type this and share this, because then it makes it real! And to be honest, I don't want to do this. Like I mentioned earlier, all I hear is this nagging voice saying "You didn't work so hard for this! You didn't sacrifice for this!" But that voice is selfish. That voice is entitled. And that voice is not obedient to the Voice that matters.
So here's the deal. You've heard the "Why" behind this decision today - the pursuit of a more content and fulfilling life that is NOT fueled by material things. You'll hear the "What" behind this in detail tomorrow - the guidelines, the motivation, the hashtags (so we can all cheer each other on), the community this will spark. (Even if it's only 1 person! We'll do this together.) So tonight, think about it. Pray about it. Ask yourself if this is something you feel you need to do. Then come back tomorrow and read about how we will do this. Together.
"...I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.: - Phil 4:11