This post is written as part of Ruth Soukup’s Secret 13 Blog Tour, which I am excited to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. To learn more about the blog tour and join us, click HERE. To find out more about the Secret 13 Essay Contest and your chance to win a weeklong Carnival Cruise for 4, click HERE.
“Discovering the Good Life is not just about learning to spend less, but about actually changing the desires of our heart, shifting our priorities from wanting and hoping for the best of everything in this world to deeply longing to store up a different kind of treasure.” Ruth Soukup, Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life*
Ruth started her book “Living Well, Spending Less” with a story from her childhood that looked much like my own. But instead of floor plans and gourmet kitchens, I would sit in my grandma’s big chair and pore over the pages of the newest Sears or JCPenney catalog as I dreamed of what my life would look like one day.
I scanned the catalog pages with painstaking detail as I planned the wardrobe of each person in my imaginary family. Oh, I looked at the toys and things for someone of my age too, but then I would go back through the catalog and pretend I was all grown up.
Fast forward thirty-some years later, and I never did fill out my shirts quite like Cheryl Tiegs, and my life looks a bit differently than I pictured. But poring over those catalogs as a little girl, I learned to equate the good life with being surrounded by pretty things and pretty people.
And while I always loved the idea of minimalism, it wasn’t exactly reflected in my overflowing closet. But inspired by Ruth’s blog post on her 40-hanger closet, I became determined to narrow my closet down to 40 hangers … or at least 40 tops. I decluttered and got rid of a few blouses and skirts that didn’t fit or I never really liked, but I was still left with an abundance of clothes.
I would count and recount the hangers, and as Ruth so poignantly stated, “I was drowning in things I didn’t need, or even want. And yet I wasn’t quite sure how to stop wanting it either.” In fact, I convinced myself in order to narrow my closet down to 40 tops, I needed 40 new tops. I rationalized that if I was only going to have 40 hangers in my closet, every hanger should be holding up something I loved.
I do the same thing with my home. I think if only I had that dining room set or those bedroom pieces, I would be content and wouldn’t want anything else. But we all know that’s not true. “There will never be enough money or pretty things to satisfy our broken discontented hearts, but peace with where we are and what we have right now will mean instant wealth far greater than anything the world has to offer” (Ruth Soukup, Living Well, Spending Less).
Knowing that things don’t bring contentment goes against what this world is selling … literally. And with my inbox bursting with advertisements of the latest sales and newest collections, I was having a serious case of the wants. So I followed the advice Ruth shares in the final chapter of her book “Living Well, Spending less” titled “We Get More Than We Give.”
Dragging myself out of bed at 6 a.m. on a Saturday, I prepared to assist my church with their mobile food ministry. With three tops, a jacket, leggings, and jeans, I bundled up for the cool morning air. I expected to feel blessed after handing out food to families in the community, but I couldn’t have predicted how blessed I would feel.
Just before closing down a couple walked up and asked for more than food. They needed healing for their bodies. This Christmas instead of gifts under the tree, they prayed for test results that showed the cancer hadn’t returned. She worried what would happen to their girls if they lost their mother, and tears filled her eyes as words were prayed.
Driving home that day, I knew my blessings extended beyond a filled pantry or presents under the tree. Still some days part of me believes the right outfit will give me the life I dreamed of as a child.
So if I want to discover the good life and enjoy the peace Jesus offers each one of us, I must intentionally choose contentment. I must turn away from what the world is selling and count my blessings as I choose a heart of gratitude and intentionally fight for contentment.
With God’s help He will change the desires of my heart and I will join Paul in saying, “… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances … 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” (Philippians 4:11-12 NIV).
Discover your own secret of the Good Life in Ruth Soukup’s new book, Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life. Through personal stories and practical action plans, she will inspire you to make real and lasting changes to your personal goals, homes, and finance. It is real, honest, and speaks to the heart of the matter—how can you live the life you’ve always wanted? (And be sure to preorder now to take advantage of Ruth’s AWESOME preorder bonuses!!)
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Rest in His presence.
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