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The other day I went shopping with a friend. She needed jeans – I needed underwear. Somehow we both ended up discovering we had been wearing the wrong bra size all our lives – but that’s a story for another day.
As we were shopping, it was clear that the holiday season is in full effect. Christmas music was playing, and the decorations were everywhere.
Whether you are in a store or just browsing online, the objective of the stores during these months is clear: BUY MORE STUFF!
Every day we are inundated with marketing messages, usually telling us how this amazing item will change our lives for the better. Often, there are images of happy people using said item, indicating that along with this item comes a lifetime of happiness.
This is ramped up even more during November and December. Everywhere we look, there are things we “need” – maybe even things we can’t live without! It’s hard to be content during these times, because we are constantly being reminded of what we don’t have.
And it’s not just lack of stuff that can leave us feeling discontented.
Sometimes the state of our relationships – with our husband or kids or extended family members – can cause us to feel a complete lack of peace and contentment.
The stress of trying to resolve a conflict or forgive someone or simply survive can be overwhelming. This can leave us feeling anything but content.
I believe that it IS possible to experience contentment, despite all of this. We can be at peace even during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
But first, what exactly is contentment?
Dictionary.com defines “content” as: “satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else”.
In the Bible study Everyday Peace, Katie Orr says that contentment is “an enduring peace that is independent of circumstances.”
Essentially, contentment means a sense of inner peace regardless of what is going on around us.
It’s clear that God is trying to teach me a bit about contentment, because everything I’ve been studying and listening to lately has alluded to contentment in some way.
I’m learning that the way to contentment is not by changing my circumstances, but changing my perspective.
[bctt tweet= “The way to contentment is not by changing my circumstances, but changing my perspective.”]
So I hope to share with you a few ways to help you change your perspective during the holidays, as well as all year round.
HERE ARE 3 WAYS TO BE CONTENT DURING THE HOLIDAYS:
- Develop the habit of gratefulness.
Discontentment can skew our thinking and convince us that we absolutely must have a certain item or circumstance in order to be happy or at peace.
It is natural to focus on the things that we do NOT have, especially when we are surrounded by messages reminding us of what we should have or should be experiencing.
The antidote to discontentment is gratefulness.
There is one sure-fire way to turn around a bad attitude, and it’s taking time to be grateful. In fact, it’s really difficult to be grateful and discontent at the same time.
[bctt tweet= “There is one sure-fire way to turn around a bad attitude, and it’s taking time to be grateful.”]
Therefore, if you want to be content, you must develop the habit of gratefulness. One way to do that is to keep a running list of the moments, experiences, people, or things for which you are grateful.
There are numerous books about this topic, but one of my favorites is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. (You can grab it using the discount code below if you want!)
This book gets into the reasons WHY it is beneficial to keep a list. I read One Thousand Gifts several years ago, and it helped me to start putting this habit into practice.
But, over the past year, I got off track, and stopped writing down my grateful list. Recently, a lovely friend recently created a journal called Living Reflections: A Journal for Cultivating a Life of Praise. You can grab one right here on Facebook from my friend Amy, or grab 2 for $20 during the week of Thanksgiving!
Since starting to use this journal, I have been getting back into the habit of gratefulness. It is amazing how physically writing down what I am grateful for each day changes my attitude and my mindset.
The journal goes a bit deeper than just writing down what you are grateful for, and I like that it encourages me to think about how God is speaking to me each day.
Paul talks about this idea of being thankful or grateful in Philippians 4:6-7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (emphasis added)
When you are grateful for what God has done for you, even in the midst of difficult times, you are able to experience contentment.
It doesn’t mean that the bad stuff is not there. But simply changing your thoughts to focus on what you DO have – what God has blessed you with – makes a big difference in your ability to be at peace.
- Focus on experience over stuff.
Another way to approach this holiday season and enjoy contentment is to focus on experiences instead of stuff.
It is easy to get caught up in the joy of gift giving. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with gift giving. I embrace the process and love finding gifts that will bless someone else as much as the next person.
But often we can get so consumed with the process of shopping and finding the perfect gifts, that we miss out on experiencing the joy of the season!
Levi Lusko said it this way in a recent sermon: “While you are looking for more, you are missing out on what you have and you’re missing out on who you’re with.”
You see, buying more gifts for other people will probably just add more stuff to their lives. But spending time with someone – having great conversations, playing games, enjoying a meal together – those are memories that will last.
I believe this is especially important for us as moms. We often want to give our kids wonderful things. We want to provide them with the best of everything. But often, all they are looking for is a few moments of time to sit and play the game they made up.
Most of us, when we look back at our childhoods, don’t remember all the stuff we had (or didn’t have). We remember the times we went camping with our family or the crazy dance parties in the living room. We recall the simple family traditions of baking Christmas cookies together.
I’m convinced that if we spend more time focusing on experiences with others during the holiday season, we will probably enjoy a lot more peace and contentment.
- Find your fulfillment in Christ alone.
Want to know the true secret to being content? Paul tells us in the in Philippians 4:11-13:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (emphasis added)
This often quoted verse, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”, is actually referring to being content!
Paul’s secret to being able to survive all the things he went through and still be satisfied was JESUS.
He wasn’t talking about fulfilling our dreams or being able to do whatever we want to do. He was saying that the only way he was able to be content – no matter his circumstances – was Christ.
This, right here, is the true secret: Jesus has to be enough for us.
[bctt tweet= “This, right here, is the true secret to being content: Jesus has to be enough for us.”]
We have to be satisfied with what He offers us, regardless of everything else in our life. If we truly accept that Jesus is enough for us, then all the other things we chase in life will not matter. Even when life is difficult, we will still be able to experience contentment.
So I want to ask you this: are you experiencing contentment during this holiday season?
How about through the rest of the year? If not, you may want to consider these ways to be content during the holidays and determine which one you need to put into practice!
Comment below and let me know which of these tips will help you the most.