Godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. -Timothy 6:6-10

Serious Question?
What is it about Target that makes it so difficult to simply shop with purpose? Why is it that the store can suck you in with it’s Dollar Bargains, and discounted items.  What is it about the aisle of scented candles that hold such power?  And stationery?  I mean do I need to go into detail about it?  And while we’re at it, who doesn’t need a new tank for $7.99 with a logo like, “Gym Hair. Don’t Care.”

It gets me. Every. Single. Time. 

Anyone else ever experience the whole, “I forgot what I went in for, and left with over $100 worth of “stuff.”

Clueless how the phenomenon happens, but it continues to strike.  So it’s been extremely overwhelming this week, when I can’t seem to stop the calling actively search contentment. The word over and over that I hear is “obedience.” In my readings, my podcasts, and even Michael made a personal reference just yesterday. I have faith enough to know that this isn’t coincidence.

I guess I should preface this whole post by telling you that I am in no way a shopping addict or big spender.  In fact I consider myself quite the opposite.  I much prefer the racks of Marshalls to the aisles of Nordstroms.  I throw in the cart instead of evaluating the actual worth.  With big purchases, I usually mull over the idea before I actually make the investment.  I am cautious, and definitely not a live beyond your means kinda gal. And it wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I was even able to name a top name designer.

But today as my husband and I were in Target to pick up a few needs, I realized that my needs and wants are sometimes hard to differentiate.  I caught myself a little bit anxious about leaving without the scented candles or the new sports bra or the overpriced shampoo perfectly, uniquely packaged.
But I left.

And ya know, I am content. All gravy baby.

What is a Contentment Challenge?
The first time I heard of this challenge, a fellow blogger was sharing her story about it, and I thought it almost ridiculous.  Why? Why give up shopping if it’s for pleasure? You must be on a tight budget to do something like that?  Pretty sure there are worse habits out there!  Shopping relaxes me!  I’m sorry but if I want a new pair of shoes, I am going to get them!

Clearly, my heart wasn’t ready. I was weak and I was missing the point. But around the end of December, I was reading quite a few passages about obedience, wealth, and income.  

I started to understand that personal weakness was the point of the #contentmentchallenge.  Our strength is found in Him, through Him, and because of Him. 

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 (Phil 4:12-13).

For me, this #contentmentchallenge is an opportunity to appreciate what I already have, to place more value on relationships and less value on items.  I want to find joy with the gifts He’s given me, and find comfort in His word rather than the overpriced sweatshirt and new converse kicks. 
I guess too, it’s so I can acknowlege the grace of simply being enough.  I’ve talked openly about finding social media sometimes exhausting.  There’s a pressure of appearance that admittedly for too long has taken my eyes from Him and onto “things.” Highlight reels sometimes make that really easy. 
I’ve learned though, that a contentment challenge isn’t about rules. It’s about being obedient to God and refocusing my eyes on Him.  It’s about connecting with Him and admitting what keeps me distracted from Him.  

If we are constantly seeking more, we can never really feel grateful for what we have. 

So How Does it Work: 
The Contentment Challenge:  January 18th-March 18th 2017
I will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and “stuff” for 3 months, to focus our hearts and minds on the root of true contentment. We will actively pursue fulfilling activities that will replace our addiction to material thing.

The Guidelines:

For the next 10 days, your homework is the following: prepare your heart, organize your closet, and make any necessarypurchases that you might need during these months. (This is not a last minute shopping spree! This is one final trip to the store for items you will need, and the opportunity for you to say your goodbyes to Target.)

Choose 1-3 inspiring books to read during this time. I would recommend any of the following: Present over Perfect, Seven, Made to Crave (great for those with fitness goals too) The Total Money Makeover and The Magnolia Story(Feel free to leave additional recommendations in the comments!)

Healthy Habits are a MUST.  My business runs on helping women like me stay accountable to their personal health and fitness goals.  These groups are good for my soul, and to me, a necessity.  My health is my priority. My investment in health is always a must. 

Gifts are okay! If someone gives you a new dress or piece of decor during that time, receive it graciously! If you need to buy someone else a gift, by all means, do so. The point is not to be rude, but to learn more of ourselves and the Lord.

Necessities are okay! If you drop and break your phone, please go get a new one! If you lose your glasses, buy a new pair. Just don’t start justifying new purchases for items that you already have. (“I really NEED this bathing suit, even though there are 8 in my closet already.”). 
You must actively pursue something – anything – that replaces your tendency to buy stuff. Begin thinking about something you love or a hobby you’ve always wanted to do, and make preparations to actually do it. For me, this is an open opportunity to dive into The ESM Project.

Is this a challenge, yes?  But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the past couple of years is that I can do hard things.  I know that this is going to lead me to a closer relationship with my Big G, and find comfort beyond the pocketbook. 

I will be blogging my journey weekly as well as tips on contentment, purging, and finding joy outside of objects!  Nervous and incredibly faithful. I look forward to my first #contentmentchallenge

Thank you for joining me. 

Katy Ursta