For real. I just walked into my closet and counted my sweaters. Why? When I brought home another one yesterday, my teenage daughter was like, “Mom! Another sweater?!” Something just didn’t seem right in that situation. 

Today, I had planned to write about being content with what we have- being satisfied with our stuff. My sweater issue was mocking me, so I challenged the voice of guilt by actually counting them. (Just remembered the one my daughter and agreed to share. In price and use. She has it on today. Do I have to count it?) Now I feel like I should get help before my sweaters 
become a reality show! 

Not really my sweaters, but I really like the one on the bottom.

Why so many sweaters? Yes, there may be one or two that don’t leave the closet often, but still. 22? What’s wrong with me? I could blame it on my new job. After all, I need something besides sweatshirts now that I’m working, right? I could excuse such an amount by saying almost all came from thrift stores. It is truly hard to resist a cool sweater for only $3. 

Reality just hit me. No more laughing at Hot Pastor’s shoe fetish. Wait. I think he  has been a bad influence on me! I’ll blame him. It’s worth a try. Sorry babe.

Living in a land of plenty has definitely skewed our perception of enough. Women living in most cultures dream of a change of clothes. Not trying to heap guilt on any of us, just making a point that to most of us, having four or five sweaters, along with five or six shirts, and a few jackets would seem fairly modest. Modest to the average woman. For winter. In America. Yet, in comparison to the rest of the world it is so excessive. 

What about houses, cars, and other stuff. Do we have enough? The right kind? Are we satisfied? Are we listening to voices that tell us we “deserve” more? That we have “earned” it? Or, are we making ourselves feel better with the comfort of more stuff? 

I am not going all legalistic on you. I promise. I am not telling you to give away your possessions, build a lean-to and eat berries. Knowing that being content is something we can learn, let’s start.
When it comes to our stuff, I think there are two lies that we must recognize for what they are- lies. Both seem so true, but both leave us disappointed and frustrated.

Lie #1 Stuff will make us feel better. Oh, how this one gets me! It does 
make me feel better to buy something new or eat a big brownie in my bed. The problem is that the feeling we get from the stuff is bad medicine. It only numbs the pain for a while. When the pain comes back, or the emptiness, we must medicate again with more stuff. 

Lie#2 You deserve it. Even when it can not be justified by our budget. Even when our spouse says, “no”. Even when we know we shouldn’t, we hear the lie and we believe it. We buy the thing we can not afford because we deserve it. Pride. We need to have that purse or that cheesecake to affirm that false worth.

Both of these lies can be defeated by the truth of who we are in Christ. When we are living under a false identity like “unworthy” or “failure”, we try to medicate our pain with stuff. When we do not deal with the pain, we have to keep covering it up with more and more stuff. 

Buying new sweaters is not an issue until you need the sweater to feel better about yourself. Most of my sweaters came from a different issue. When I struggle with my false identity of “not enough” I medicate with perfectionism. Just as defeating. If you are struggling with not being content with your clothes, your house, or other stuff, start by asking yourself this question.

Are you content with who you are? Are you okay? 

In Christ, we are holy, righteous, and dearly loved. We are worthy and secure. Living out of gratitude for that gift of grace sets us free to joy and peace. If we are striving for more, yet feel empty, something in us needs healing. 

I’ve shared before about our adopted son who screamed and raged when Hot Pastor would not buy him a hat in a gift store in Ethiopia. He had already bought him shoes, but it was not enough. Hours after leaving an orphanage, a life with nothing of his own. After coming home, all had to be fair. If one son received a gift or even a cookie, he whined for the same. 

For our son, it has never been about the hat, gifts, or cookies. He just wanted to feel worthy and loved. His pain of rejection and abandonment still speaks loud to him and he tries to numb it with attention, food, and fairness. We love, hug, affirm, and encourage him in Christ. One day, I pray that he places his trust in God and sees himself as a son of the King. 

I pray that for you too. I pray that you deal with any discontent in your life. Don’t be afraid to look deep, to see the pain and emptiness for what it is. Only life in Christ changes our spirit and satisfies our soul.

Philippians 4:11-14

The Message (MSG)

Content Whatever the Circumstances

10-14 I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.
Great movie to watch: Confessions of a Shopaholic 
Great blog by a thrifty girl: