**I've returned from a much needed week-long computer break and I'm glad to be back! We had a very blessed Christmas, rejoicing in our Savior's birth and enjoying special times with family. I'll post just a little bit this week and then be more back to normal posting by next week. I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday as well!**
It's easy to complain about what we don't have isn't it?
I often find that in the fall and winter, as the stores are absolutely bursting at the seams with all sorts of gifts and goodies for eager Christmas shoppers, I notice a whole lot of things that I think I need. Suddenly my wardrobe seems more lacking than it did before, my home decor more sparse, my kitchen needing a few more additions, and on and on.
Discontentment is a sneaky thing. Just when we think that we've learned to be grateful for all of the abundant blessings in our lives, a quick trip to the mall brings out that ugly green jealousy monster in us (otherwise known as sin) and we start looking around with eyes that see only what we don't have.
God has been so faithfully working away at this area of my life, chipping away the rough edges of greed and materialism and envy. Though I found that it did rise up again somewhat this Christmas season, I was so blessed to realize that (at least for the moment) the contentment side is starting to win out over discontentment.
I think that one of the main things that has changed in my heart and in my way of thinking is this... I realize now more than ever that I am rich. I'm not just saying that in the spiritual and relational sense (though that would also be true- I have a Savior who has met my greatest need, and I have been blessed with an amazing husband and children, and many, many other significant and beautiful relationships in my life).
What I mean is that I am really, truly materially rich. And most likely, so are you. I'm quite sure that most people in our North American culture would disagree with me. We don't own multiple vehicles and the one we do own isn't luxurious or new. We don't live in a fancy house, and for that matter, we don't own the one we do live in. I don't wear designer clothes. The only purse I own is from a garage sale.
So exactly how do I define being "rich"? Well, for starters, I live in a house. With heat. And running water. It's clean and sanitary (ok, except maybe the bathroom once in a while), with no insects or rodents to speak of. Our home has more than 1 or 2 rooms (in fact, it has 10 if you count laundry and bathrooms). Our furniture is not ratty or ugly (and for that matter, we actually have furniture). I have a closet full of clothing and much of it was purchased new. By my doorway sits 5 or 6 pairs of shoes. Even when our budget is tight, we don't worry that we won't eat. It might not be our favorite foods, but we have never come even close to experiencing hunger.
I live in a country where I can vote in a fair and democratic system. For the most part, the police and justice system is generally just and certainly not corrupt to the same degree as in many nations. I do not live in a war-torn nation, fearing midnight bomb raids or hearing random gunshots throughout the day. I go to sleep each night feeling safe. I do not experience the terror of fearing for the safety of my precious children. We have the freedom of attending church in public each and every Sunday, with no concern of persecution. We own more Bibles than I can count.
It is so easy to begin to swallow the messages that our culture wants to feed us... you need more, you deserve more, you should have everything you want, it's ok to treat yourself, bigger and newer is always better. What we forget is that beyond the place that we call home are desperate nations full of desperate people. People who would consider the clothes in my closet beautiful and plentiful. People who would consider my home a palace. People who would wonder that I could ever possibly feel stressed about my grocery budget and the foods I feed my family. People who are hurting and needing so much that even the simplest of human comforts (a comfortable bed, a bowl of rice, a bath, a hug) would feel luxurious to them.
Whenever I start to look around and feel that I am somehow lacking something, I remind myself of these things. It doesn't take long before that want or "need" dissipates and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all that we have been blessed with and asking God how we can give of ourselves more to those who are without.
Do you struggle with feelings of discontentment? How do you deal with them? And am I the only one who finds that the holiday season makes it harder?
Want to remind yourself of all that we have to be grateful for? Check out the other Gratituesday posts at Heavenly Homemakers!