Tension. There’s been a lot of it in our house lately. And the tension has been over…stuff. Material stuff. Stuff we can’t take with us when we die. Stupid.
We have a house. We have two paid-off, reliable cars. We have clothes. Mostly outdated and unfashionable clothes, but clothes nonetheless. Our son has more toys and baby contraptions than he really needs, and an adorable nursery (yes, I admit, I am very materialistic when it comes to baby decor).

Every evening we straighten up the living room and it takes a good 15 minutes to put the stuff where it goes. It’s annoying, and I wish there was less of it. So why do we want more when we wish there was less?

Our Sunday school lesson this morning was on contentment. We discussed how greed is just a vicious cycle- we think, “If I just get ___, then I’ll be satisfied.” Um, no we won’t. There will always be something bigger, something newer, something more trendy then what we have.

I want to stop that cycle. I wish it was possible to just decide that. Just to say, “I’m now content- I don’t need anything else.” But then there’s the month that’s left at the end of the money, and contentment is nowhere to be found.

The thing that is most frustrating to me is most of the “stuff” I really want I don’t see as frivolous. I want Grayson and all our future kids to go to private school (I was a student and teacher in both private and public school and in my experience, private is better). I want my kids to be able to to do stuff like go to summer camp, play select sports, and go on school trips to Europe. I want to be able to go on vacation with my family. I just want options.

But right now I just want the tension to be gone. I want to enjoy the rest of our summer without the stress of how we are going to pay for ________ five years from now. I’m tired of the arguing, the hurt feelings, and the frustration.

So I’m adding “Contentment” to my list of things to work on- along with “Lose Weight”, “Learn to be a Better Cook” and “Not be So Annoyed with my Dogs.”

We’ll see how it goes.


  1. Naomi on June 20, 2011 at 1:23 am

    I've been really focused on how much stuff we have too. It's so difficult to part with some things and yet it all adds to the clutter. I was just writing my own blog posts about it!Also, our 2 kitties were "our boys" before we had H, but now they are annoyances mostly. H loves them though!

  2. Stefanie Blakely on June 20, 2011 at 2:28 am

    The fact that you posted this now is just eerie. Rob and I just had a huge tense fight about money about an hour ago– one that escalated very quickly. Neither of us was mad at the other, but when you get in a tense discussion about money, it seems like you want answers immediately…and if your partner can't give them to you, it's easy to get angry.We've been spending well beyond our means lately. We have an incredibly difficult time saying, "We can't afford it." We've gone on trips we can't afford, eaten out when we couldn't afford it… and just generally made some bad decisions lately– ones that might cost us for several months as we'll have to really buckle down to get caught up.We're having some trouble agreeing on where the cuts should be made– it's easy to agree to eat out less, cut the cable and not spend frivolously. It's not so easy to agree to skip a (mostly paid for) family vacation– one that my parents planned for our whole family towards the end of the summer. The beach house is paid for, but there's gas to get there and food…We never came to a conclusion tonight, but we did take a step back and acknowledge that letting things get tense like that will not help us find a solution– we're partners and we'll have to act that way to figure things out.I know what you're feeling right now and it STINKS!!!

  3. Sarah on June 20, 2011 at 3:01 am

    I'm right there with you! It's so hard to say no – especially when it's something to better our children's life. But my grandmother reminded me recently that there isn't any gift we can give our children that is worth more than a happy marriage between their parents. But it can be SO HARD!Peace, patience and prayer, girl. You're in mine.

  4. Erin on June 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I like the word content, and I read your post last night and have been thinking about it overnight. To be content in our lives is hard, not just with money, for for me, with everything. We live in such a hustle bustle world, thinking about the next thing, activity, item…it would be better perhaps to stop and be in the moment more. And that is my profound take away from your well written and thoughtful post my friend. Hope the tension goes away, your peace offering fro yo helped…and you are having a good week!

  5. Megan DeWald Kline on June 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I, too, read this last night and have been mulling it over. Contentment is a tricky thing. For me, when I have those rare realizations that I "feel" content, I suddenly panic, thinking I shouldn't be content– that there's more to life: more to get, more to see, more to own, more to know. And then that content feeling fades, replaced with the panic feeling. It's a vicious cycle.The question that I always have to remind myself is: why do I want x? Is it because I feel entitled to it? Is it because I want to measure up to some imagined standard I have for myself? Is it because I want to be perceived a certain way? Is it because it's truly an important thing? And, perhaps more pressing: why do I want x NOW? The answer is often that I am only sure of the now and, with the future so uncertain and foreboding, I want to cling on to the present with all my resources– time, money, energy, etc. In other words, trusting that my life and future are in God's gracious and mighty hands is not easy. (I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.)As always, we're praying for you three and, above all else, asking God to mold you (and us!) into the likeness of Jesus, who tells us not to worry about what we eat or drink or wear and who had no place to lay his head.

  6. Maggie on June 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have been having such similar feelings lately, and your words truly spoke to me. I loved your list at the end! Those are all things I want to be better about too!

  7. Jillian Moller on June 22, 2011 at 1:13 am

    I think contentment is a huge struggle for all people, but especially those our age. And I see it getting worse with Em's generation. A few years ago, we realized that we were in a deep financial hole and had to fight to get out of it. Honestly, super honestly, Dave Ramsey was the best thing that ever happened to us financially, which I think in turn changed my whole perspective on "stuff."Many prayers for you sweet friend.

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