Carrie and I are working our way through Faith Pointes by Barbara Barker this summer; this is the second time we are both reading it, but the first time we're discussing the study/discussion questions. It's given me a lot to think about, so I thought I'd share! (Carrie will hopefully do some of the same...hint, hint--she's been so busy lately, but we all know she has a ton of great insight to share. At least she's reentered the world of cyberspace. )
This week, I'm in chapter five of Faith Pointes: "Finding Fulfillment in God Alone." Interestingly, I've been mulling over some of these issues already, so the application questions were really good for me to think about (haven't even gotten to the Bible study part!). Barbara lists our true needs (as opposed to wants): Redemption, Reason for living, Relationship, Requirements of physical life (shelter, food, water, etc.), and Refuge from all that threatens life. Interesting list, eh?
We spent some time with another family (who has a son our twins' age) at their mountain cabin a few weeks ago and had a wonderful time--refreshing in every sense of the word. I was pondering on the way home why it had been so wonderful. Partly it was because we were in the presence of friends, Christian fellowship, GORGEOUS creation, and away from internet/email, the phone, TV (at least TV with any real reception), even the radio. But, another reason it was so wonderful for me was that it reminded me of other times in my life when I've been the most content, really trusting the Lord for my needs and not fretting about all that was going on.
When were those times? For me, they are all strikingly similar once I examine them: a semester abroad during college, summers spent working at various camps, and some of the semesters immediately following college (I worked at the college for a few years and then taught school, so my life was run on "semesters" rather than on a yearly basis for a while). What do those things have in common? Few possessions, particularly the summers at camp and the time overseas. Limited availability to acquire more possessions. Few, if any, advertisements to urge me to acquire more possessions. A life fully immersed in ministry--all to other people, especially children. And, vast amounts of time spent in Creation (walking to and from work/class, working at a nature camp, living in cabins with no air conditioning and therefore lots of open windows, etc.).
I've realized that I tend to be more content, paradoxically, when I have fewer possessions. Perhaps it's because I don't have to spend as much time maintaining them (there are fewer things, after all, to maintain). I'm also been more content when I was living somewhere that I had very little choice about--it was the provided housing for that particular job. So, I wasn't consumed with decorating it or making it perfect. It was a pleasant place to live and that was it. Even food was pretty basic during my "seasons of contentment"--even when I had choice about it. And, Creation has a way of directing our hearts to its Maker rather than inspiring us to acquire more stuff (like watching TV does), so I really think my heart was turned to the Lord more, simply by being outside more. And, finally, I was investing much of my time and energy into fulfilling OTHERS' needs. Hmmm.....
With that in mind, I've begun (again) to try to simplify my life. Those who know me best know that this is a constant struggle/goal of mine. It's been interesting for me to start to ponder why I'm always wanting to simplify. I think I know a little bit better now: because when I'm living more simply, I'm truly more content, more inclined to worship and trust the Lord, and more interested in serving others rather than myself.
This is true for children, too--I've noticed that my daughter is much more content, sleeps better, plays independently better, when the TV has been off for several days, we're playing more outside, and there are fewer toys. So, I'm making an effort to simplify my children's lives as well. Why withhold something as wonderful as contentment from them?
I'll post some of my recent de-cluttering attempts later--it has been amusing me to look at all the JUNK we've acquired and then, actually boxed up and moved into this house!!! (sigh) Why do we hoard needless stuff?
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