Thursday, August 8, 2013

Contentment

I drive a 2001 Honda Accord. It's a great little car with about 140,000 miles on it. We spend a lot of time together because of all the driving I do for my job. She's actually my 3rd accord and I adore her...Until I get out. Her paint is chipped and incredibly dull. Two weeks ago when I was driving through a parking lot the driver's side window just dropped into the door. One thunk and my window was open. I laughed out loud. It was the first rainy day in a l-o-n-g time. And on top of that, the driver's side window hadn't worked in months. (Want to be embarrassed? Drive through a fast food place with a front window that doesn't roll down.) I laughed the whole way home - as rain poured in the open window. 

These awkward photos are brought to you by my incredible awkwardness. Don't worry, I was stopped at a red light when I took these pictures. 

We try to live a simple life. In order to do that, we need to be happy with what we have. (Check this out to read my latest thoughts on the simple life.) I don't use fancy shampoo, have expensive shoes, or drive a nice car. But I like nice things and struggle with finding the balance between having nice things and not being consumed by them.
I struggle with justification for having nice things and maintaining a simple life. 
I thought this struggle would go away once we became debt free. I was so wrong. It's actually been the opposite - the struggle has gotten harder. When we were in debt I justified driving an embarrassing car because we were paying off debt. Now we are working on our emergency fund - something that is just as important to us as paying off debt. We have not loosened our grip on the budget and our paying ourselves each month. 

Seeing in black and white the progress we are making on our emergency fund is incredible, but does make contentment harder. We can afford a new car - one with shiny paint and working windows. We have the money to buy expensive shampoo and makeup - stuff I'd really like to have. So I work on contentment because I have much more than I need. 

While I struggle, there are a few things that really help me maintain contentment. Now that all of our dollars belong to us, they mean a lot. While the emergency fund is great, my eye is on the prize - adopting a baby. Every dollar I spend on something else - even $5 on make-up - could help fund our adoption. Being debt free was a great motivator, but adoption is even more powerful for me. The end is in sight. 

I have no idea what money will feel like to me once we have our emergency fund and our child home. By then we'll be saving for something else - retirement, kids college, and paying cash for a house, I imagine. And hopefully I can be content with all that I have even then...but I know I will still struggle.
“Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth." -Matthew 6:25-28 CEB
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