A few years ago, I thought I had all of the stuff I needed. Looking around our home, I realized that I was content. I had plenty of clothing, plenty of food, and plenty of technology products to do what I needed. What else was there for a guy with it all?
It started with the first Best Buy Black Friday email.
New computers, new tablets, new phones, new cameras, new music.
My internet browser blossomed with a mess of tabs showcasing all kinds of stuff.
The content man of the day before was gone.
I spent time every day scanning deals, trying to find even better deals on what I’d found, if not uncovering new stuff as well.
The same thing would happen to me when I was a kid. I’d find the Sears catalogue on an otherwise pleasant day I could have spent traipsing about the woods behind my house or playing stick ball in the school yard. With the huge catalogue in tow, I’d settle down in the living room with a pen and start circling sports equipment, jackets and shirts for my favorite teams, and a few of the latest video games.
My contentment was shattered by my fascination with that catalogue—it didn’t take long to get really, really greedy. While there’s no doubt that I enjoyed receiving those gifts at the time, I’m often struck that all of my finest childhood memories happened outside: my sledding hill in the woods, the time I played hockey with a real puck on a narrow frozen stream, or trying to get my knuckle ball to work in the schoolyard.
During the season of Advent, I wanted to veer away from traditional meditations on the birth of Jesus and look at gift giving and particularly, contentment.
What do we have to learn from scripture about giving gifts, generosity, and being content with what we have?
I’ve made resolutions in the past to make “this Christmas” different. Then the gift giving frenzy hits and I’m lost in the online deals. I start to dream of what I could have…
Our consumer culture’s warped view of gifts and contentment has taken shape over the course of years. We won’t be able to undo its influence in our lives in one month. This is a battle we’re bound to lose if we only think in the short term.
However, what if we looked at some simple teachings about generosity and contentment and tried a few things out this year? What if we took a few steps toward a different understanding of contentment this year and laid a foundation we can build on?
Those first steps are what I’m aiming for in this series. If you end up doing even one thing different this year, then let’s count that as a win.