By Katie Bennett, Contributing Writer
“It’s odd,” I told my husband, as we lazed around the dining room table one night last week.
Our older kids (ages 5 and 3) had been dismissed and were off busily playing in other parts of the house. There we sat, gathering our energy for the evening marathon while shaking a few more Cheerios from the box onto the baby’s high chair tray.
“For the past five years,” I continued, “I’ve been waiting for our financial situation to get better. I’ve always thought ‘next year’ would come, and we’d be able to do this or that. But even though our income has increased some, it doesn’t feel like it. There is still so much we can’t do.”
“Don’t you know?” Mitch, my husband, responded conversationally. “There have been studies on this. Most people, no matter what their current financial situation, feel they need just 10% more income in order to be happy, settled and satisfied with life.”
His comment struck me.
You see, our income had increased right around 10% over these past couple years (through a lot of hard work). And sure enough, the “10% rule” applied to my mindset five years ago, and, if I’m honest, it applies to me today.
Because the truth we so easily forget is that if we seek satisfaction through the pursuit of more, we will always, always be left wanting at the end of the day.
So I began to wonder, what would it mean for me to pursue contentment and simplicity rather than that elusive “last ten percent?”
Because really, the things I want to do now, once done, will be quickly replaced by more wishes.
Ecclesiastes 6:9 says, “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless; it is like chasing after the wind.” (NLT)
I decided practicing contentment pretty much comes down to a disciplined thought life. Anyone can be discontent, for sure. And with the help of God’s Spirit in us, anyone of us can be content, regardless of our life circumstances.
In order to find contentment today, I believe we must choose to:
Knowing that the good gifts in our lives are from God, and that His grace is also sufficient for life’s “imperfections.” We must open our eyes to the abundant blessings that surround us on every side!
Relax and recognize when we truly have “enough.”
The striving. The dreaming. These are not wrong in-and-of themselves, but I’ve noticed that when I fill my time looking around my home and imaging all the improvements I’d like to make, that does not foster contentment!
Remember that “the seen world” is passing away.
The things we think matter often do not actually matter; and the things that carry eternal weight (like our sin, obedience to God, and daily work of surrendering our lives totally to Jesus), get little attention. We must be intentional to value what matters!
Make the most of what we’ve got.
Perhaps my home is older, and perhaps its yet-to-be-finished edges give it some character. I can choose to make the most of the stained carpet by cleaning it as best I can, and keeping it vacuumed regularly.
I can choose to be diligent in how I maintain and run my home.
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In the same way, I can make the most of a husband’s busy work schedule by accepting it and maximizing on the time when he is home.
What area of your life is God calling you off “the treadmill of more” and into glorious contentment?