Personal Posts

{Still} Learning To Be Content

Good morning, all! I hope you had a fantastic weekend! I traveled to east Texas to celebrate my grandmother’s 100th birthday. Wow!! She’s such an amazing woman, and I wish you could all meet her and know her.

The drive to east Texas was about three hours each way, and road trips by myself are always a good time for me to think, plan, dream, contemplate, etc.

So what’s been on my mind lately?

Contentment.

I thoroughly enjoy writing a blog about interior decorating. Decorating is so much a part of me that I think about it constantly, and my mind is always coming up with new creative ideas.

However, there are pitfalls. One of them is this constant focus on stuff. Material things. Worldly possessions.

With such a focus on material things all of the time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of becoming envious of others–envious of their beautiful homes, envious of their time they have to work on their homes, envious of their beautiful stuff.

I’m trying to learn to be content with what I have. Content with what I don’t have (but really, really want!). Content with where I am in life. And believe me, it’s a constant struggle, and I’m continually having to keep myself in check.

I live in a tiny condo that isn’t anywhere near being finished, and I’m doing all of the work on my own, as time and money allow. If I think about it too long, I can easily become overwhelmed and anxious. I can easily become envious of those people with the large, gorgeous houses where everything is beautifully decorated, and they have more than enough storage space for everything they own.

But one thing I’ve come to realize is that things aren’t always what they seem on the outside. Appearances can be deceiving. And those people who I look upon with envy may not have it all together like they portray. Oh, I’m sure some of them do, but not all of them.

Every time I find myself struggling with discontentment, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a man about a year ago. He was doing some work on my client’s house, and every day he would pull up in his big, nice, new truck…and the envy would creep in as I would glance from his beautiful truck to my not-so-pretty little car.

Then one day, he began telling me about his house, which was already about twice as big as my condo, and how they were making plans to add on to their house to create a bigger, nicer home with more space…and the envy grew a bit stronger as I thought about how my tiny little condo has virtually no storage space and really small rooms. As the conversation went on, and he continued telling me about his stuff, I kept feeling more envious of his situation, and more resentful of my own.

And I stewed in my envy and discontentment and resentment for a few days…and then I learned the rest of the story…

Later that week, this man told me that he and his wife were so far in debt that his wife had to go back to work. So while he worked days, she worked nights, just so that they could make ends meet. He said that they were trying desperately to refinance their home, but so far the bank was being uncooperative, and he wasn’t sure what would happen to them if they couldn’t refinance. He told me that he was working as many hours as he could, even picking up odd jobs in the evenings and weekends, just to bring in as much money as possible so that they could stay afloat.

At that moment, I felt so foolish for having been so envious of his situation, and for growing resentful of my own. Yes, I have a tiny condo that is far from being finished, but it’s a tiny condo with an even tinier mortgage that even in the most dire financial circumstances, I feel certain that we could surely pull together enough money to pay it. And yes, I have a not-so-pretty little car, but it runs well, it gets me from point A to point B, and best of all, it’s mine. A bank doesn’t own it. I own it. And while I don’t always have the ability to run out and purchase any and every thing I want, I also don’t have thousands of dollars of credit card debt weighing heavily on me. Matt and I have a very strict cash-only policy. If we want something, we pay for it in cash. If we don’t have the cash, we save up for it.

No, things are surely not always what they seem. And being envious of another person’s stuff, especially when you don’t know the details of their situation, is an exercise in futility, and will only breed discontentment and resentment.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. –Matthew 6:19-21

I’d love to learn this lesson once and for all! But I still need almost-daily reminders.



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35 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Annie Wetherbee
    April 23, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I really enjoyed your post today. I especially love the verse you added. My birthday is June 20th and my birth-verse is Matthew 6:20! It is near and dear to me! Thanks!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Whitney @ The Rooster and The Hen
    April 23, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I love this post – and I can relate in so many ways. We are all so blessed in our own lives that we do ourselves a disfavor by comparing what we have with others. The decorating/home industry can weigh you down if you let it – but it can also serve to inspire and motivate. As I’ve chatted with friends with bigger and nicer homes than mine I usually find that they want something bigger and better too – where does it end? I believe if we can learn to be thankful for what we’ve been given, the Lord will continue to bless us with both our needs and wants if we work hard and are patient.

    Thanks for this!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kelly @ Eclectically Vintage
    April 23, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Funny, I was just talking about this to my girlfriend! Looks are deceptive. I know many people are in way over their heads – they want to keep up with the Jonses.

    I had my car 12 years until I was forced to get a new one (it barely chugged up to the car dealership)! We hate car payments. It had been so long since I’d bought a new car, I had no idea how to start it when I took the test drive (one of those ones where you just have to press a button)!

    Its’ hard to reign in that little green eyed monster. Just remember that you never really know what’s going on in people’s lives.
    Kelly

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Deb Donner
    April 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Wise words!!! I can relate to everything you’ve written!! An attitude of gratitude is always a good thing! Have a great day, Kristi! And happy belated birthday to your Grandma!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Shannon Fox
    April 23, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I aspire to be more like other people in their actions. Like trying to be more graceful, forgiving, patient or kind. Stuff is only stuff. There will always be someone with more, you’re so smart not to try and compare yourself. I hope you continue to find contentment in your life =) It sure makes it happier!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Western Warmth
    April 23, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Wise words. I learned this lesson the hard way many years ago when I was in a large house, but in a marriage that was struggling. We put the pieces back together, moved away to a far away place so he could start a new career and a new life, and we lived in a very tiny home with our big family….and we were much much happier. Now we have a huge home (but that needs LOTS of repairs) and its no better or worse, because our relationship is the only thing that really affects our happiness one way or the other. Well, that and getting good medical care (which includes psychological for me). You are a bright spot in this world. Don’t forget that you are putting so much beauty out there by the life you live and what you share with others. Be proud of yourself!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected]
    April 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I have given my daughters the same advice as they were growing up. They would be envious of things their friends had and I would tell them that unless you know what their financial situation is, don’t believe that they really can afford it all. I think that they were more frustrated that they knew we could afford to give them the same and I wouldn’t. I felt it had to be earned and appreciated in order for them not to make those awful financial mistakes so many others have made. Great post!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ashley
    April 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Oh my goodness, it’s so weird that you posted this. I just sent you a submission about this very thing, then I clicked over to read the newest post and found this.

    I struggle with the same idea about my blog…that it’s about STUFF. It’s shallow. Sometimes I’m envious of deep, thoughtful, godly blogs that have much more meaningful content. But I couldn’t keep that up for long, so I will just throw in some meaty content around my loads of projects. I wrote this in my post, but it applies here to …contentment isn’t circumstantial – if you can’t be happy with a little you will never be happy with a lot. We are blessed abundantly, and even if it’s less than others its still more than we need. I need to write that on my bathroom mirror or something so I never forget… it’s scary how easily discontentment can set in even when you know better.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    debbiedoos
    April 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I LOVE this post!~ This is something I talk to my boys often about. Kids today have a lot more than when I was growing up. My Mom was a single Mom, waitress, no education and busted her tail to take care of us. She did awesome too btw….but none the less, I want to raise my boys in the same sense, that stuff is just that..STUFF. It certainly does not define who we are as people. Nor does it make you appreciate things as much as when you grow up, working hard, going to college, etc…etc. We moved out of an area that we were surrounded by people trying to keep up, and very superficial to be quite honest. NOT the way I wanted to raise a family. Hence, we have a good life, are very content and my boys NEVER say to me, well so and so has that…or so and so has more. If anything, they say WOW, that kid is spoiled. Not that I want them to judge others either, but they do recognize stuff can be too much STUFF! I love your candid thoughts. Thanks for sharing!~:)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    thistlewoodfarms
    April 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    I agree 100%! I read a quote the other day that I want to tatoo on my forehead. Don’t let comparison steal your joy. So many time we are so much more blessed than we think. Thanks for the reminder and the incredible post.

    blessings,
    karianne

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sue
    April 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    I enjoyed your post and it’s a great reminder for all of us. Envy is not a pretty sight and we all need to be content with what the Good Lord has provided for us. Thank you

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected]
    April 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    What a great post and I couldn’t agree with you more. Blogging definitely can bring out those types of feelings. I always enjoy reading these types of posts. They come along just at the right time 🙂 Thank you!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected]onsoneroof
    April 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Oh and happy 100th to your gram 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carol-Anne (Use The Good Dishes!)
    April 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Oh, it’s always such a struggle, isn’t it, to keep from letting the ‘wants” take over? After all of these years of working in people’s homes, kind of ‘behind the scenes’, where I get to see what really takes place behind closed doors, I should know better. But I struggle too.

    Maybe it’s a good sign that at least we struggle with it, rather than just succumbing to the constant feelings of envy?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Pat
    April 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Kristi, as you beat yourself up over “coveting,” remember that you are human!
    God allows us to make choices, so sometimes we think we can help him along
    in getting what we want. That opens the door to envy. For me, that’s when I
    know it’s time to ” Let Go and Let God!” It’s easy to write, but we humans keep
    feeling like we should do everything for ourselves. Love that your faith is included
    in your blog. Who knows when someone needs to hear what you’re saying and
    that opens the door to Faith. We are all richly blessed!l

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Amy Osborn
    April 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    I really appreciated the post. We all struggle with this, and I especially needed the reminder. Thank You!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected]
    April 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    When my husband and I both lost our jobs on the same day our lives drastically changed. Especially as it was more than 2 years before he landed a position. I had a huge lesson in learning contentment through that time. And I realized that the desire for things…I’m not talking necessities…is often a substitute for what we really need, which is more of HIM. It’s a humbling realization. More recently I have found the joy in the giving thanks. I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts.” It’s been helpful to discovering contentment. Grateful hearts are contented hearts. They really ARE.
    Kristi, I appreciate your candor. This refinement process we go through is challenging. Thanks for sharing your reality. I also love your commitment to a solid financial standard. You truly stand out for that. There are countless women who would be grateful for your affordable condo and car….it’s very stressful living with a burden….and the fear of losing it all.
    Blessings….

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    cathy Pulliam
    April 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    i have the same struggles with contentment. it will always be the thorn in my side that keeps me close to the Lord. we live in a consumer driven society, & i find myself caught up in waves of materialism. i think that’s why God keeps me humble. i have been blessed with so much in this world & thanks for reminding me to be grateful & content. great post today!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Bliss
    April 23, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Nope, you never know what goes on in someone else’s house, so it’s always best to keep your own in order and not worry about the neighbors. Might be plenty of folks with big houses, big mortgages and big appearances who would love to have a perfectly sized condo.

    ~Bliss~

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cheryl Thornton
    April 23, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Happy birthday to your Gram…the things she has seen in her lifetime and the stories she must tell…how lucky you are to still have her in your life…

    I am an aspiring blogger…haven’t gotten the courage up yet to begin, but I follow many truly talented people like yourself…I am also a leukemia survivor having had a stem cell transplant last January…if that experience has taught me anything, it is that stuff is just stuff and its the people in your life and the way you treat those people that are important…I hope that I am living more in the moment and being kind to those around me…but in the same breath, I have that “envy” and it has been especially strong in the last couple of weeks as it seems that many of our friends are doing major renos in their houses…my husband says that I spend too much time reading decorating blogs and dreaming of projects and our house is just beautiful the way it is…but as a creative person the last year has found me having to wait for my husband to do the projects for me…I am like you in that I cant justify taking out a second mortgage just to hire in professionals to make my dreams come true…luckily my hubby is handy and can bring to life anything I dream up…decorating has taken a back seat in our house for the past 3 years due to health issues, but now that I am back on my feet I really would like to make some of my decorating dreams come true…thanks for this great post – it brings perspective back to my life

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cathy Greggs
    April 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I’ve lived with alot and I’ve lived with a little. I can honestly say that my happiest times were not determined by how much I had. Living within your means, as you and Matt do, is by far the best, and less stressful, way to live. People – family and friends, and sometimes even people you just met – are often what make the good times good! And there is nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, that can compare with God’s peace that passes understanding!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim
    April 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Thank you for is post. What a great reminder.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tracey Almon
    April 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Enjoyed your post. A lot of people have too much pride to actually say these things out loud. But there are many many people in the same situation as you and many of us struggle with being “content”. We are happy and we know we are blessed, but one side of our brain absolutely loves beautiful things…it is a daily struggle. Thank you for not being afraid to put into words what many people feel.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Karen
    April 23, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    What a very good story, and great reminder for all of us. I think we all need to learn it every day because we are just human after all! The problem is that some people never try to learn it in the first place, and those are the people you have to feel sorry for. They have lives filled with discontent, money problems all the time (or perceived), and enough, is never enough. Great post, thank you for sharing. -K

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kelly Palmer
    April 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! It was just what I needed to read today 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Belinda Baggett
    April 23, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I just have to comment on this! I completely agree with what you are saying….it is just stuff….but have you ever looked at it this way…..You aren’t coveting their stuff, you are just wishing it was that easy for you at that moment (ignorance is bliss of course if you don’t know how hard that stuff has made it on them). What I mean is, you don’t want stuff, you just like to make plain old stuff beautiful. And when you get tired or creatively blocked, you just wish you could just snap your fingers like they seem to (those that just go and buy). I know that I have told people, if I had paid a fortune for that picture, I would care less about it. It is the fact that I got the frame for dirt cheap, used an awesome fabric as the picture and pulled it all together myself that makes it so great for me. Now when I was staring at an ugly empty wall, I was wishing that I could just go and buy a gorgeous picture…..I think it is more about the thrill of creativity and how we all sometimes get tired. That person that just buys stuff probably sees your work and covets, wishing that they had just some of your creativity and sticktoitness. Okay, I am done, I’ve had my say.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    cherie
    April 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    thank you for reminding me that I am not the only person who struggles with this. it’s a battle, but one i’m keeping at bay. 🙂 stay strong and keep being creative!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Andrea Schuneman
    April 23, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    It must have been a good weekend to see grandma’s, mine is 85. WOW your grandma is 100 yrs old! So cool!
    Thanks for writing this and sharing you with us and your feelings. I too, have felt the same way so many times. I think what help me with this was taking Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey. I know it sounds crazy, but he taught me so much about “things” and they are just things. Anyway, humility is our friend for sure and always, always be thankful for what we do have. I tell my girls all of the time….we have so much to be thankful for because there are a lot of people who have nothing AND there are some that have much more.

    Blessings,
    Andrea xo

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gina
    April 25, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Great post!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jackie
    April 25, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Oh Kristi….you are so not alone! It’s so hard not to crave all of the beautiful things I see. My husband and I are retired and have to watch our budget very carefully. He always teases me by saying I have champagne taste on a beer budget! I guess my age has helped me to put these things in better perspective. The older you get, the less you really need to be happy and content. You learn what is really the most important in this short life, God and family. I’ve learned that peace and contentment doesn’t come from “stuff” but from God. Once you realize (and believe) that he has promised to provide all of our needs (not wants) for those who believe, it’s a lot easier. I’m striving to be like the Apostle Paul who said he had learned to be content not matter what situation he found himself in. (Philippians 4:11) Like you said, though, we need daily reminding!

    You are such an inspiration to me, Kristi!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sally
    April 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I can relate to this, I was driving my old car wishing I had a new one recently and while I was able to buy another one(on credit) I was very thankful for the car running to over 200,000 miles and being paid off for over a year. My new car suits my needs better and I am really thankful for it. I try to remember to be thankful for my ‘everyday’ things like my furnace, air conditioning, etc. working.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Joselyn @The DIY Spot
    April 25, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Terrific post! Appearances often are deceiving. Like you, I am a firm believer of living below your means. What a great lesson.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ann @ Housefinally blogspot
    April 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for this, Kristi. I too struggle with those feeling sometimes, especially when I am cruising through Blogland! Some of these people have such amazing homes– I think they could put old crud in those spaces and they’d still be gorgeous, but you are right, everyone has their own special burdens to bear.
    You are so amazingly talented and you inspire me so much. Your rooms always look amazing, and the ideas you come up with are crazy-clever! Happiest BDay to your special Grandma, you are so blessed to have her with you!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Susan (Between Naps on the Porch)
    April 30, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Kristi, I’m so agree about saving up and not going into debt to do stuff. That’s why it takes me so long to decorate the rooms in my home. It’s often good for me to save it up because by the time I have the money saved, I’ve often changed my mind on how I want to do it. :). So I just keep tweeking gradually as I save up and have the funds to make the changes I want. I actually think it’s more fun that way. I think it wouldn’t be near as fun if we could just do anything/everything when we wanted. I can’t wait to renovate all my baths…next on my list! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected]
    April 30, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Hi Kristi, I could have written this, it’s exactly how I feel at times too. It wasn’t until I lost my job 3 months ago, that I found a new perspective of our lives. I LOVE the fact that our house is small, with a small mortgage, I LOVE the fact that our newish car is paid off and I LOVE the fact that we have a tiny credit card debt (under $1000)…Because we live within our means, we are still floating along nicely without any real financial worries, and I have had time to enjoy our house while waiting for new employment. I like your attitude mate, we can still have just as nice things as the next person, but without the worries. Jayne x

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