When we cease to appreciate the gifts, we cease to really live the “Christian” life.
My friend on Facebook has been on a thankful streak. Birthed from grief, the thankfulness bubbles up and she posts statuses on her Facebook about the blessings in her life like hot chocolate or family. It is reminiscent of Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts. Thankfulness is also the key to contentment.
Contentment is a preventative measure to staying away from the “keep up with the Joneses” syndrome. It reminds us to look upon our own family and what we have to be thankful for, rather than pine over another’s families “stuff.” It’s why we are where we are in the first place. I have observed some of these behaviors and equated them with discontent:
· Credit card debt.
· Living beyond our means.
· Cars we cannot afford.
· Toys instead of quality groceries.
· Clothes we don’t need.
· Shoes we don’t need.
· Extras on the cell phones.
· Things we don’t need that we use to show everyone, ‘we are successful.’
· Drug use.
· Excessive eating.
If we are focused on God’s gifts, we are less likely to overspend, live too large, or envy someone else’s gain. I think “Occupy Wall Street” is a prime example of greed and discontent. We want what the wealthy have and that bitterness will fester violently until we find contentment in what God has all ready given us. Success can be self-defined; so can wealth.
I am wealthy because I married a good man. I am successful because God has used my gifts to help others. We live from paycheck to paycheck, struggling to pay bills, but I have a warm place to rest my head, good meals, and plenty of friends. Most importantly, I have Jesus in my life. He’s enough for me. But don’t think that I say this from a place of non-struggle.
I, too, paid my dues for living in discontent. Some of the above I have felt and continue to feel the pain of, but someday living fiscally responsible will pay off. My financial past will go away. We won’t be living like our grandparents, but it is my prayer that we will live comfortably, enjoying the same contentment with a little less struggle. I want to live the “Christian” life by appreciating what God has given me all ready. If we really take a look at how we live, we might be surprised at the excess. There’s always trade-offs we make for something we prefer—a Starbucks purchase may eliminate something we need at the grocery store; purchasing new furniture on credit may eliminate the ability to pay another bill due to increased payments per month.