Dear Target, it's not you... it's me: A Contentment Challenge
I wrote about contentment two days ago.
I'm still nervous over the fact that I even uttered the word. To me, it is sort of like the junk drawer that you don't show people. I don't talk about contentment because I am constantly feeling inadequate and insecure about where I am in the quest for contentment and where I want to be.
Contentment, to me, has always been a sticky concept. It is an ever-evolving process of letting go and finding what I have to be more than enough.
When it comes to contentment, my biggest snag in achieving it has always been shopping. I love shopping. I love things. I say I want to be a minimalist but even minimalism demands a trip to Target in my eyes.
I like Target. I like Target a lot. I am a chronic roam-through-the-aisles-and-buy-things-I-don't-actually-need Target shopper. It's pretty bad. You might as well come up with one of those joint couple names for me and Target (like Selener + Brangelina). Just call me Targah. Just call me Hanget.
I will roam through the dollar aisle and figure out that I actually need everything in it. I will suddenly need a golden french bulldog business card holder. I will need sports bras and socks and a new kind of lipstick. Allow me to be honest: Target is basically therapy with no ugly crying and an unexpected need for sweater mugs.
I've debated creating an Instagram account for the "girls of Target" as I like to call them. We are a strange population of natives to the big red logo. We go to Target when we are hungry, when we are bored, and when we simply need to feel better about ourselves. We try on graphic tees we don't need. We buy golden glinted folders we think are going to make us more organized. We purchase 6 planners. We are pleased with the aisle space and lighting Target offers us. Target is our mecca. Our promised land.
A lot of the above is a joke but I do feel the need to be completely candid on this page about my shopping habits. I don't shop in excess. I don't have issues with spending money I don't have. However, I am pretty good at convincing myself on the fly that I need to purchase something. I buy too quickly. I often splurge on what I don't need. I'm not irresponsible with my money but I also have far more clothes, items, and everyday things that are not necessary.
In 2016, I want to know what it feels like to need less. I want to ditch the emotional spending. I want to stop scrolling through Instagram for things I don't need, following accounts that don't add anything to my life except an extra dose of unhealthy comparison. I want to invest my time and energy into loving my people well. I want to send birthday cards. I want to give to others. I want to be generous and I want to experience abundance through simplicity.
As I have written before, God stretches us beyond our comfort zone. I don't need to prove a point with less shopping, I simply want more of him. If I want more God then I must clear the space for him. You need to make room if you want to let God in.
The Contentment Challenge : January, February, March 2016
(many of the guidelines have been borrowed from Nancy Ray- the original creator of this 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.
When I read over the passage in Matthew about the need to sell all your belongings to follow Jesus the Contentment Challenge immediately popped into my head. I texted my boyfriend and basically said, "I am giving up shopping for the next three months."
I expected him to sigh, roll his eyes, and then ask me why I was taking on another extreme challenge. Extreme challenges are a thing for me. I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl.
Instead, he texted back, "I'm in. Let's do it. I've wanted to save money anyway."
There was no hesitation. I am honored he wanted to join me so quickly in this challenge. We started planning what our Contentment Challenge would look like (we are still planning so this post will likely be edited in the coming days).
On New Years Day, he and I will make a list of goals for the next three months. We will focus on financial planning in the three months. Our ultimate goal is to draw nearer to God by removing barriers of excess that often distract us and make us less effective for God's purposes.
• Prepare: 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.)
• Choose 1-3 inspiring books to read during this time. I will be participating in Nancy Ray's book club. I highly recommend it!
• 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.
• 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.”)
• 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. For us, this will be healthy food + fitness. We are dedicating ourselves to planning hard workouts, paleo meals, and gradually learning how to take our cooking skills a step further (he's already a much better cook than I so this is more a goal for me).
I will be continually blogging about my progress and tweaks made to my lifestyle so that you can see how the search for contentment is going!
The official hashtag is #contentmentchallenge ! So be sure to share your struggles and victories along the way on Instagram and Twitter.
Want to join? Let me know in the comments below!