This week I had lunch with my friend Serena who happens to be a fellow (successful) business owner. It was such a nice break from reality as we had a chance to pray for our families and our business as well as lament about the challenges of life and the schemes of growing our businesses.
As we sat there talking about “the next big thing,” I had a chance to share a bit about my early business journey and the constant struggles of finding contentment in a world that bombards us with messages of “wants,” “needs,” and “gotta-haves.” It’s an interesting conundrum, being that the world of retail focuses brand messaging and marketing ideology on “YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT THIS AMAZING PRODUCT” messages while my life philosophy is one that is constantly embracing and finding opportunities for greater simplicity.
As a business, it’s both healthy and necessary to implement growth strategies. But how do I balance the need for a growing (and subsequently) more profitable business with a greater need for contentment at home? Because, the business does NEED to grow. I NEED to find new markets and gain new customers. I NEED to make financial gains to offset growing costs. I NEED to buy new inventory to keep the shop unique, diverse and exciting. And, I NEED to be able to supplement my time invested in the businesses with income, albeit a modest one, to justify the time that could otherwise be spent with my family.
At the same time, I’m at home navigating my house making lists of things I want; I WANT a new rug, I WANT new tile in my bathroom, I WANT a new sofa where the cushions don’t sag, I WANT to replace the outdated stone tile in my kitchen, I WANT to work less so I fix up my house more…and the list goes on. And, as the list grows, my discontentment for what I already have grows with it and juxtaposes my ideology of “embracing simplicity.”
So there’s the ultimate question; how do I find contentment in a world driven by want?
When I find myself being buried in WANT, I remember that when Jesus called his first disciples, they left everything and followed him. They left their families. They left their worldly possessions. They left their jobs. They left their friendships, relationships, their desires and their WANTS. If I had been given that same opportunity, would I have done the same? I think most of us would like to thing that we would’ve left it all to follow Him as did Peter, James and John.
Serena told me this week that I could have the “million dollar business.” But, I can’t. I think/know that growing financial success would corrupt me. In order to remain humble, relying on God in my personal and professional growth, I have to constantly be skirting the line between Needs and Wants. AND, I have to be in that position of humility to recognize the difference between the two.
Eight years ago when Jerry and I were on the verge of losing our home and selling off our worldy possessions just to pay the bills, I remember praying to let me be in a continual state of instability so that I would always rely on God to meet our daily needs. I never wanted to forget how He provided for us through individual persistence, daily perseverance and truly miraculous accommodations. Now that our needs are fewer and our wants are greater, I am having to be reminded of that prayer.
Sometimes, curtailing the WANTS in life are as simple as finding fresh and invigorating ways to make our existing things bring greater joy. It’s setting aside the Pottery Barn catalog and all of it’s multi-hundred dollar inspiration and realizing that your children’s artwork, when tastefully matted and framed can bring you more joy than any mass-produced painting. It’s recognizing that your kitchen cabinets are well-made and can be easily cleaned up and modernized with a fresh coat of paint. And, it’s knowing that sometimes, just re-arranging the furniture and swapping out throw pillows can bring a freshness to your home without costing a dime.
These are all things that I’ve done this week! It’s amazing, how much more joy I have in re-working or refinishing what I already have. Buying things are easy but discontentment is never satisfied with acquisitions. And, in taking the time and energy to refresh things around the house I have moments to reflect on the blessings in my life and abandon my lists of wants with lists of gratefulness.
May you do the same! And, if we should meet somewhere along the way through the sale of paint or the mixing of colors, I want to hear your stories and struggles with contentment.