Happy New Year! There are so many people talking about how rough 2016 was, and when I stop and think about it, 2016 was a rough year on my heart and spirit as well. Yes, there was "THE election," racism, violence and celebrity deaths. And yes, all of those things took their toll on me, but more than that, I just felt under attack spiritually. The more I tried to grab a hold of simple, the further from my reach it seemed to get. My 2016 was supposed to be "simple," but in 2016....
Simple Got Complicated
I wrote in the middle of the year about how I basically let "simple" get the best of me. I wanted to do all of the "simple" things...all at one time. I tried the KonMari method. We got chickens to increase our own food production and self-reliability. I not only increased the size of our garden, but I added another garden plot over on our 20 acres for pumpkins, zucchinis and two types of squash. I canned and preserved more than ever. And then I started following all of these wonderful "simple living" ladies on Instagram. That's when I started trying to buy all of the reusable/sustainable items they seemed to be using.
All of it got the better of me. There was just too much "new"at one time. I felt overwhelmed and completely inadequate. Listening to the Erin Loechner (author of Chasing Slow) episode of The Happy Hour last week made me feel a bit better when even she admitted that we can get caught chasing slow living just as much as we chase fast living. That's why....
2017's Word is "Contentment"
Contentment was my goal all along with my word choice of simple. To me, simple living means living with less stuff, obligations, and busyness in order find joy and contentment in everyday life. Being content doesn't mean not trying to live better or differently, but it does mean finding joy where you are, with what you have. Last year, I let too much of my identity be defined by how we were living and what we had. Clearing clutter and growing my own food were as much status symbols to me as a brand new Gucci bag is to others. I felt that if I didn't use the same green cleaners or light beeswax candles at dinner that I was doing "simple" wrong. But what I was doing wrong was letting my outer life, determine my inner, spiritual life. I have shared this quote from Richard Foster multiple times here on the blog and I'm going to do it again and again until I fully grasp it! He says, "The Christian discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle."
Plans for Contentment
This year, I don't plan on sharing monthly goals or updates necessarily like last year. Honestly, doing these posts added pressure to my "simple" year and left me feeling even worse when I didn't get them finished or done the way I had set out to do them. However, I do plan to share with you some of my inner discoveries and book reviews throughout the year.
Today I started Nancy Ray's Contentment Challenge, where I will try to go three whole months without buying anything that is non-essential. That means no new home decor, clothes, craft projects, books, etc. I'm honestly terrified of admitting to doing this challenge publicly, lest I should slip or give up.
It's only the first day and I'm already "itchy" knowing I can't buy anything. The other day I saw new stuff at the Target Dollar Spot (my kryptonite) and I bought a few things just because I knew I was going to work on this challenge. The challenge is meant for us to look at our lives and to find meaningful pursuits in place of using shopping to fill any emotional void we have. If you want to hear about my progress, sign up for my newsletter, where I plan to share most of the thoughts I have about the challenge. And please pray for me y'all!
Later this week I will also share with you my reading list for this year. I have about 16 books that I'm going to work through this year that focus on contentment and simple living. I honestly could have chosen so many more, but I think these are the ones I'm most excited about.
Adding a Memory Verse
And I'm adding a Bible passage to commit to memory this year as well:
" I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13
I didn't do this in 2016, so I hope that by finding scripture to ground me in my word choice will keep me from veering off of the path I want to pursue this year.
I'd love to know what word you've chosen for the year or what goals or resolutions you have. Do you have any book or Bible study suggestions? Let me know in the comments!
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