New flooring, an updated master bath, and fresh carpet in the bedrooms. These are a few of the things listed on our “Goal” sheet which is hanging on my refrigerator as I write this. These aren’t “needs”, they are “wants”. There is a difference. As I watch TV shows where families are house hunting, I get so frustrated when I see couples exclaim that they “need” solid surface counter tops, hardwood floors throughout, and to be in close proximity to the golf course. No. You. Do. Not. These things are not necessary to your survival and therefore, they are “wants”.
I’m sharing some of our personal goals with you because I want you to see that it’s ok to want more. It’s ok to have vision, to broaden your thinking, to strive for something better. We just have to be careful that the sacrifices made in order to achieve those goals don’t pull us away from what is most important.
Whether our goals are work related, a desire for more material possessions, or for personal growth, I think we can all agree that in order to achieve what we’re going after, we will have to give up some things to get there. Sometimes that means giving up something good for something that is better. Other times, it can draw our attention off of what really matters in order to have this thing we so badly desire.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Philippians 4:12 NIV
When this passage of scripture was written, it was written by a man that is believed to be in prison as he writes. He shares that he has been well fed in his lifetime, but also hungry. He has lived having plenty, and lived wanting more. He was human. We can all relate.
Even though our circumstances can change, sometimes by our own doing, sometimes the doing is out of our control, God calls us to be content.
adjective con·tent \kən-ˈtent\
pleased and satisfied : not needing more
The man who wrote that scripture said that he has learned the secret of being content. That tells me that he wasn’t born just knowing how to do this, it took a little time. maybe a lot of time. Who knows. But, he was willing to learn it and I’m betting that once he did, his stress level went down and he had an easier time of not comparing his life to others.
Do you want your stress level to go down? Do you want to get your eyes off of what other people have that you do not?
Let’s learn this. Put it into practice. Train our brains. Adopt this attitude.
We will be content in all circumstances.
noun per·spec·tive \pər-ˈspek-tiv\
the ability to understand what is important and what isn’t <I know you’re disappointed, but keep your perspective.
This word is so critical to learning contentment.
If you find yourself having trouble being thankful this season, start with the basics and work your way up. Are you breathing? Do you have food to eat today? If you’re missing a loved one, do you have wonderful memories to reflect on? If you’re alone today, will you be catching up with friends or family in a day or so?
Would I like to whip out the check book and start making our list of goals a reality? Sure! But what’s more important at this stage in my life isn’t to have more stuff, shinier floors, or an updated bath…it is to spend time with people. Both the ones I already love and new ones that are coming into my life. Those upgrades will wait. I’d rather spend my energies and money flying up the East coast to visit my son, spending a couple of days with my daughter on a girls get away, or taking a friend to Starbuck’s (actually I’m a Dunkin Donuts gal, but you get my drift!).
The key to being content is to remember that this life isn’t all about us. It’s about relationships. It’s about people. It’s about learning. It’s about having an attitude of gratitude, at all times, in all circumstances. It’s changing lanes when we get nudged over. It’s dusting ourselves off when we fall. It’s about learning from the past but not living in it. It’s about letting God work out his plans through us.
Should we shoot for those goals? Absolutely! But be flexible. If all that we gained while working for those was a life lesson…embrace it, let it be enough.
We are in control of our thoughts. When those feelings of woe is me or I wish I had or I wish I could come along, let’s use them as a trigger to be thankful in that moment. Let’s lay down our thoughts of what we think we need or what we think is important and remind ourselves to breath and be content with what we do have.
It’s a choice.
Let’s choose it.