One of the main themes I hope to speak into through this blog is the root, or “heart reasons” behind our spending habits. When we were living on a tight budget to pay off our loans, Drew and I each had $20/month for individual “fun money.” That doesn’t go very far when you think about getting coffee with a friend, dinner, wanting a new top, etc.
We primarily bought new clothes when we had a “need” vs. a “want.” When I needed a coat or work shoes, these types of scenarios. The same principle of not buying many “wants” applied to home decorations, furniture, entertainment, etc. The result of this was frequent thoughts of comparison and/or feeling insecure. I’d feel frumpy if I was wearing the same thing a lot or something felt a little dated.
By God’s grace, I found by praying through the root cause of my feelings (i.e. unhealthy comparison, placing my identity in things or acceptance, etc.), I’d often come away refreshed and no longer desiring the “want” that left me feeling like “woe is me.”
This process went something like this:
- I’d compare my outfit to someone else and feel frumpy or “less than”
- I’d immediately feel sorry for myself or want to rush to the store to fix the emotion
- When I’d pray through the scenario, by God’s grace, I’d feel refreshed and realize my outfit was just fine; the root was comparison and it was stealing my joy
- Suddenly I cared a lot less about whatever it was that took over my mind and emotions moments ago
There’s a difference in truly “needing” to replace something that’s worn out, and just a fleeting emotion that makes you feel like you must replace it. Most the time mine was the latter.
My hope in this blog is to encourage us to fight for contentment. To take our fleeting thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. It can be challenging to know how to take each thought obedient to Christ. After all, where in the Bible does it say how and when to shop, right? But when we slow down, pray through the root/heart cause of our emotions, and remind ourselves of biblical truth, I think this allows us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-6).
I can say 9 times out of 10, my thoughts were fleeting and due to unhealthy comparison.
To provide a personal example, I’ll share my “boot story.”
Let’s walk down memory lane to Christmas, 2014. I actually needed a pair of boots and had my eyes on a pair of dark brown, combat style boots. Our family’s are very generous gift-givers, so I waited for Christmas to roll around to get them. After all, my $20/month wouldn’t go far when buying good quality boots. I received a gift card that covered the cost of the boots and was super excited to wear my new shoes. They were all leather and would probably last several more years.
Fast forward to Christmas 2015. This year I had my eye on the new booties that everyone was wearing: light-brown, cute ankle boots. The problem was my other boots were in great shape. All of a sudden, I was focused on the new style and discontent.
Long story short, God helped we pray through the root causes of my heart and pursue contentment and gratitude for what I had. By the time Christmas came around and I had gift cards, I no longer desired the other boots. They would have been a nice treat, but I was kind of “over it” by Christmas.
In practical ways, I knew there would be a different style out the next year, and the next. Once my heart was in a better place, I don’t think it would’ve been wrong for me to buy the booties, I just didn’t really desire them anymore. My other boots also served as a “heart cleanser” because I was reminded each time I wore them of how much I have to be grateful for, especially in light of all the needs around me. Lastly, I actually love my boots. They’re totally me (when I’m content)!
Although our budget isn’t as tight, today, the lessons from this story still apply. Do I race to the store every time someone at work has a nice outfit? When my shoes don’t feel “enough”? When I visit someone else’s home and suddenly I’m discontent with my own?
If I take these thoughts captive, more often than not, I’m content with where I am and what I have. I do refresh my wardrobe and we do decorate our home, but I think it’s done in a much healthier fashion (no pun intended) when my identity is in Christ and not opinions of others.
Wherever you are in your finances, I hope this post encourages and gives you ammo to fight the battles of your heart and mind. I’m so grateful for the season of a tight budget, as it taught me to appreciate what I have and realize we really don’t need much to be content.
OK, enough hashtag shenanigans.
Peace and love!