I first read about The Contentment Challenge by Nancy Ray a few years ago, and the idea has stuck in my head ever since — mainly because I get easily overwhelmed by STUFF, yet, I continue to buy *stuff.*
Last fall I purged a room that we had hoped would be a nursery, and turned it into my office. It was emotional, but it felt great to get rid of all the stuff that had piled up! I moved on to organizing three closets in the house and, after all that purging, finally got to a point where every room in the house was tidied up. It was wonderful to walk through my home and see the pretty bedspread on the twin guest bed instead of seeing nothing but piled up clothes and random gift bags. I could give people house tours if they asked instead of walking past multiple closed doors, praying they wouldn’t ask to peek in. It was such a great feeling that I did a decent job of keeping up with putting things back in the correct space instead of throwing things in a guest room and slamming the door shut.
Then we decided to adopt a baby. With one week’s notice.
Good news: my office was turned into a nursery! Bad news: everything in that room had to go somewhere else in the house, and then new things had to come into the space. We moved to Virginia for a couple of months for the adoption and came home with boxes and boxes of donated and gifted baby items. It was thrilling, and also overwhelming.
That twin guest room now? Yeah. It’s not pretty. I haven't seen the bedspread in 8.5 months.
My point is, we have a lot of stuff. We don’t need all this stuff! My home is crying out for another round of purging and I am crying out for a break from things I do.not.need. I will not be missing out on anything if I don't have a pretty linen shower curtain. I will not be missing out if I don't have white couches. I will not be missing out if I don't have that "perfect" lip color that "looks great on everyone." I have a weird habit of shopping online for hours (especially after any "Beauty Uniform" post on A Cup of Jo), but I don't end up buying anything. I literally put things in an online shopping cart and then click delete delete delete. It may sound like self control, but really it’s just a waste of time. It also reveals that a part of me craves more, and I want to crave less. The Contentment Challenge is an opportunity for me to appreciate the many things I already own and exert self-discipline when it comes to unnecessary spending. I’m going to share more about the spiritual side of this challenge later, when I share my “Word” for 2017.
The Contentment Challenge by Nancy Ray
We will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and “stuff” for 3 months, to focus our hearts and minds on the root of true contentment. We will actively pursue fulfilling activities that will replace our addiction to material things.
• For the next 10 days, your homework is the following: prepare your heart, organize your closet, and make any necessary purchases that you might need during these months.
• Choose 1-3 inspiring books to read during this time.
• 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.
• Necessities are okay! Just don’t start justifying new purchases for items that you already have.
• 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.
My Personal Guidelines:
• I will not purchase home decor items (sniffle), books, clothes or accessories for anyone in the family or shoes for myself for three months. I will only buy toiletries and cosmetics that we've actually run out of.
• I will not cross the threshold of any retail store in January unless it is to buy a gift or return something I bought in 2016. (I'm not counting grocery stores or pharmacies.)
• I will continue to receive “play money,” (an amount of cash my husband and I both receive each month for things such as eating out with friends, golf or a pedicure) -- BUT I will put all of my January play money towards paying off my laptop.
• I will be ruthless about unfollowing social media accounts that tempt me to compare or judge or make me question if I am missing out.
My Personal Goals for January:
• Sell some home items and clothes to put away money for a new dining room chandelier
• Spend time daily reading my Bible — a habit I regretfully have broken — and expressing gratitude for my many blessings
• Get back into the habit of doing a yoga workout — preferably three times a week.
• Clear out all areas of the house that have gathered *stuff* and trash, donate, sell or organize! I’ve already taken one load of adult and baby clothes to Faith House and multiple bags of various items to Goodwill, but there’s sadly much more to go through.
• Read "Grace Not Perfection" by Emily Ley, "Simply Tuesday" by Emily P. Freeman (a book I started ages ago and need to finish) and a daily devotion from "New Morning Mercies" by Paul Tripp.
Nancy designated separate themes and challenges for each month of the challenge. I don’t plan to blog about this portion of the challenge, but I will try to pop in here and there with an update on how I’m doing! If the idea of doing this challenge intrigues you, I urge you to 1) um, just DO IT, and 2) Google “The Contentment Challenge” and read about other people’s experiences with it!
Was I nervous to commit to doing this? Yes. Do I think I’ll regret it? Not for a second!
Who wants to join me?