Is Contentment Possible? {Chelsey Duda}


Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5

This is a question that has always plagued me. That I have never figured out. I always think I find joy, pleasure and satisfaction in buying material things: new clothes, makeup, jewelry, houses, cars, home decor, getting a new hairstyle, shoes, new everything...the list goes on and on. I’m OBSESSED. I am compelled to buy what I think will fulfill my desires in the moment.

I use the word compel because I don’t hesitate, I buy immediately to fill a void. I have so many different reasons for buying things for different purposes. That is what I tell myself, how I justify my decisions. I think it does make me happy....but does it really? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. So here I am on a search for answers, for guidance, for wisdom from God and outside sources. They say that inner peace is the key to contentment. What is inner peace? I personally don’t find much appeal in the word peace, it doesn’t tick with me. Maybe I don’t know what this truly means, so I am going to find out. Wikipedia defines inner peace as such: "Inner peace (or peace of mind) refers to a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress. Being 'at peace' is considered by many to be healthy and the opposite of being stressed or anxious."

Upon reading that definition, I definitely do not have inner peace. I am not strong in the face of discord or stress, in fact I am easily stressed and easily anxious. I think the key to obtaining inner peace is knowledge and understanding or more importantly wisdom. The Bible speaks a lot of wisdom. Scripture says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight" (Proverbs 9:10). So how do we know and fear God enough to give us wisdom, and how does that knowledge translate to contentment?

That is the ultimate question that I am in search of. In an article written by Jon Piper he states “that fearing the Lord means fearing to run away from Him. It means fearing to seek refuge, and joy, and hope anywhere other than in God”. That’s a lot to digest, because as I stated earlier I find joy in material things (which is clearly not God). Piper says we must depend on God to meet our needs. Proverbs 11:2 says, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom." This humility is all about relying on God, depending on God for everything. A humble person is open to change and growth, he does not stay in his old ways. Godly wisdom is hearing and doing God’s word. We must saturate ourselves in God’s word to gain spiritual wisdom in all situations. Scripture says this about wisdom, "Seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasure" (Proverbs 2:4). Wisdom is found in God’s word, we must study it and meditate on it day and night. For, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." (Psalm 19:7). Pray to God for spiritual wisdom if you do not have it. Wisdom that leads to true and lasting happiness is a gift from God. Ultimately the more we choose to glorify God the happier we will be. (John Piper)

I may find happiness in buying material things; but God’s word tells me that those things do not last and neither do the moments of joy, pleasure, and satisfaction I get from those things. This is not the joy that God created us for and that is why those feelings do not last because nothing in this world is eternal. Wisdom is truth, and by understanding wisdom we can establish a foundation. By knowing the facts (truth), we can understand what it means and understand (what, how and why) to use this truth, that is wisdom. In essence, wisdom is the right use of knowledge (Charles Spurgeon).

One reason I may buy certain things such as clothing, jewelry and money is to prove myself to others. But in God, I know who I am (loved enough to die for through Jesus Christ) and I should not have to do this. From this I will obtain inner peace. After reading stories of people who “have it all” in life but are still unfulfilled, it has REALLY made me realize that every single one of us humans are longing for something this world cannot give us. As christians we know the answer is found in Jesus, to the world they are lost, always seeking more to be satisfied in.

It is true, I buy things and they do satisfy me in some ways for moments in time. But I am ALWAYS allured by the next shiny thing and my desire to consume is like a fire, burning on and on like a wild forest.  So I think to myself, it’s a never ending rat-race, I will NEVER get a head. I will ALWAYS want more and this is the sad truth. But I don’t want more of the things that don’t fulfil, satisfy and bring everlasting contentment to my soul. I don’t want to chase after these illusions. I want to pursue the ONE truth in this life Jesus. The one truth to everlasting joy!

I oftentimes forget that joy occurs in the moment not in the future. I need to remain focused on the simple things in life, here and now. Not when I get this or that, then I will be happy. I need to focus on the good and be grateful for the simple things in life that I do have. The sun shining on my skin, something funny I overheard that brings me laughter, how it feels to hug another person and feel love, how good hiking in nature feels and the strength I get from my body…

**Scientific research says that humans always value experiences over objects. I think this is true, I think when I am feeling lonely in life, purposeless and bored and I don’t have many people to share life with or make happy memories with (when I’m spending the majority of my time alone), I compensate that with buying stuff.** I have had many experiences in life that were free but filled me with so much joy, laughter and pleasure and left me with happy memories to reflect on. Those truly are the moments in life that I think back on fondly, I don’t think back on my iPhone fondly and smile. When you look back on your life you will remember experiences and people.

I believe this quote here nails the reason for my materialism obsession:

“Psychologists Deci and Ryan argue that we turn to these superficial goals, these external sources of self-worth, when our needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence are thwarted again and again. This can happen when we find ourselves trapped in situations that are too controlling (robbing us of our sense of personal freedom), over challenging (robbing us of our sense of competence), or rejecting (robbing us of our sense of relatedness).
In other words, when we are under too much pressure or denied choices, when we feel we can’t do anything right, and when we are lonely and lack meaningful relationships with others, we turn to goals that aren’t very good for us as a kind of defensive strategy. ‘If I can’t get the love I need in my life, then I’ll become rich and famous and people will love me for that.’”

{Written by Chelsey Duda}