I shared about my conviction a few weeks ago on Instagram… and sweet Nancy Ray – the creator of the challenge – reached out to me about co-hosting it. Imagine my surprise when the CREATOR of this challenge emailed ME to say she saw my story and would love to partner in 2019. I had asked God to give me clarity on whether or not to complete the challenge in 2019 and let’s just say Nancy’s email was the final push I needed to say “YES! Yes, God, I will embark on the Contentment Challenge again in 2019!”!
If you’re new to the idea of the Contentment Challenge, let me give you a short summary. (You can also read my blog posts about my previous challenges here for a more in depth look at it; this post & this post will likely be the most helpful!).
To best explain the challenge, let me share Nancy’s short & sweet version of how it came to be:
“After paying off our house back in 2012, Will and I accomplished a huge financial goal we had sacrificed and worked for. Weeks afterwards, we began arguing about money wayyyy more than we ever had when living on a tight budget. I thought I could shop at Whole Foods and Anthropologie and do all the things I had sacrificed, and went over budget for 3 months straight. Sorry, Babe.
Then, I spoke at Making Things Happen, and God began to whisper the word Contentment in my heart.
“Nancy, are you really content? With just Me? Or do you always have to buy new things?”
I felt a tugging on my heart to give up shopping for 3 months. After fighting the Lord in my head and heart for 2 days straight, I finally gave in. To do this well, I planned it out and created the Contentment Challenge:
The Contentment Challenge: I will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and “stuff” for 3 months, to focus my heart and mind on the root of true contentment. I will actively pursue fulfilling activities that will replace my addiction to material things.”
Every time I’ve completed the challenge, Jesus has revealed new things to me and helped me muddle through the inherit discontent I feel. Recently, I’ve found myself slipping back into my own spending ways but more than that – I find my HEART has been in disarray.
I find myself discontent with aspects of my business, physical areas in our home and the clothes I have for this postpartum body. Plus, Micah is almost 7 months old & those late night nursing sessions have made me pull the trigger far too easily on things Micah or I “need”!! My prayer for this contentment challenge is that I will look around and SEE the blessings, the abundance, He has given me … and not try to fill my life or heart with useless stuff.
I use shopping as a few things in my life: stress reliever, avoidance tool, boredom & the fuel my desire for “more”. I know this fast from spending will allow me to dig even further into the root – the heart – of the matter. It’s going to be hard, but so, so good. Every time I complete the challenge, I see the ugly sides of my heart … but God also reveals the abundance of what I already have. There is JOY in the challenge and I can’t wait to see what is revealed to me in 2019!!
Are you in? Will you join me? If so, here are the guidelines:
• We’ll kick things off January 1 so for the next 12 days, your homework is the following: prepare your heart, organize your closet, and make any necessary purchases that you might need during these months. (This is not a last minute shopping spree! This is one final trip to the store for items you will need, and the opportunity for you to say your goodbyes to Target.)
• Gifts are okay! If someone gives you a new dress or piece of decor during that time, receive it graciously! If you need to buy someone else a gift, by all means, do so. The point is not to be rude, but to learn more of ourselves and the Lord. (Gift Giving is something I love to do, and I do worry I’ll use it as an “excuse” to shop. Because of this, Matt will be holding me accountable for the gifts I may need to purchase during the challenge.)
• Necessities are okay! If you drop and break your phone, please go get a new one! If you lose your glasses, buy a new pair. Just don’t start justifying new purchases for items that you already have. (“I really NEED this bathing suit, even though there are 8 in my closet already.”)
• Food: please buy food for yourself and your family 🙂. From my experience, this is a good time to stop grocery shopping at Target and instead choose a grocery store. Some who have done the contentment challenge have chosen to use this as a time to forgo eating out. If you eat out all the time, maybe it’s best for you to limit it to 2x a month. I’ll let you decide what you want to do here!
• You must actively pursue something – anything – that replaces your tendency to buy stuff. Begin thinking about something you love or a hobby you’ve always wanted to do, and make preparations to actually do it. I miss reading, so I plan to pursue reading. I also have had “Organize Family Photos /// Make Yearbook” on my to-do list for too long so I plan to spend this time creating keepsake books for our family.
What I’ve Learned From Past Challenges:
• I’m type A and somewhat of a perfectionist, so when I’ve done this before I’ve been TOO “type A” about it. Rather than focusing on the heart issues, it became all about checking off the to-do list & following the rules. Allow yourself to be flexible. Allow yourself to let your HEART change. Don’t just check off the boxes.
• Have a buddy. I’m a verbal processor anyway so when I go through something intense likes this, it’s helpful to have a buddy to talk through my heart realizations AND hold me accountable. Matt’s great… but he doesn’t have the same struggles I do. While I definitely want to share my thoughts with him along the way, I know he won’t truly get it since he doesn’t struggle in the same way. He’s supportive, sure. But I value a female perspective in the thick of it with me.
• Less is more. If you went back and read my past posts on the challenge, you can see my goals & guidelines for 2014 and 2017 were much more in-depth (and let’s face it – a little intense, ha!)! This goes back to my Type A personality… I’m “go big or go home” and the first 2 times I had VERY specific goals & guidelines. This time around, while I do have goals & guidelines, I’m simplifying things. I want encourage you to pray over doing that, too. Don’t get so caught up on the goals & guidelines… it doesn’t have to be perfect … just jump in.
• If you mess up, the whole challenge isn’t a bust. Let me write that again – if you mess up, the whole challenge isn’t a bust! Mistakes happen. You’re not perfect. In fact, this whole challenge will reveal to you how un-perfect and ugly your heart really is. If you mess up and place a late night Amazon order, or find yourself sucked back into Target or getting caught in killer sale emails … pray, repent and start over. Rinse & repeat, y’all. Don’t give up. Don’t berate yourself. Learn, grow & keep going.