I’m reading Flunking Sainthood by Jana Reiss, a memoir of the author’s year of trying out different spiritual practices, including fasting, lectio divina, and more. I’m about halfway through and have been quite interested in her insights. She has finished each month so far not by not being successful at the spiritual practice, but at finding that the attempt at practicing it is bringing out deeper spiritual issues in her life.
The chapter I just read is about simplicity and the author’s task was to avoid any non-essential purchases for a month. What she learned through the month was that shopping and consumerism aren’t real problems for her, but the underlying spirit of coveting is real and problematic.
I read that a little self-righteously because, after all, I’m not big on conspicuous consumerism. Our furniture is old, our TV is dying, we wear socks till they have holes in them, etc. You get the drift. But, as I considered what she had written, I realized that I am not content with my life in many ways – and it’s not the “holy discontent” of wanting to walk more closely with Jesus or even having goals in life. I’m not content because I look around my house and think “If we had less stuff and clutter and were more organized, I’d be happy.” Really? Will a clean house and organized meal plan make me happy? They aren’t bad things, but they certainly aren’t top-of-the-list most important, either.
My epiphany this morning (which I don’t think was due to the two-day headache and Topamax) was that I’m once again waiting for contentment and happiness when they are right here in front of me. PWM and I try to impress upon the kids that relationships are more important than things – but I’m not doing such a great job living that out.
The Great Commandment says (paraphrased) to love God and love others. The stuff is of secondary importance. I’ll still declutter and give away a bunch of stuff in the next few weeks. And I hope to have a decent system of meal planning in place by the first of the year so we can save some money. But, I’m praying for the grace to remember to love God and love others and let the rest fall where it will.