Hi there! My name is Ruth, and I share my adventure of finding the Good Life on a budget over at LivingWellSpendingLess.com. While that might make me sound like some sort of finance guru or money-saving expert, rest assured that I am anything but. In fact, the reason I started writing my blog in the first place was because, like so many other couples, my husband and I were fighting a lot about money.
The truth is that I had always shopped a bit too much, but this was different. My heart would begin to pound and I’d feel a rush of adrenaline as I placed each shiny trinket in my cart, always knowing that this was the item that would change my life. This was the thing that would finally leave me satisfied.
Deep down, I knew I had a problem, even if I wasn’t ready to admit it. I couldn’t make my husband understand that what I wanted more than anything was to be full. Not surprisingly, the battles got uglier and angrier, until one day we both finally decided we’d had enough. Something had to give.
This idea that more stuff will make us happy was not unique to my situation. On the contrary, this message is constantly reinforced at every turn in our consumer-driven society. There is an underlying whisper in every television commercial, every billboard, every magazine spread that taunts us, tempts us, and sucks us in:
If your house looks like this, you’ll be happy.
If you drive this car, you’ll be successful.
If you wear this makeup, you’ll be beautiful.
If you read this diet book, you’ll be skinny.
If your child has this toy, he’ll be content.
This will be the thing that changes your life.
This will be the thing that fills you up.
We see the ads, read the magazines and blogs, and even spend hours poring over stunningly perfect images on Pinterest. We listen to the whispers as we watch everyone around us filling their lives with more things, prettier things, better things than what we currently have. We want all those things we think will usher in the Good Life.
But they never, ever do. The whispers are a lie. Lean in, friends, because I have something to tell you: The Good Life is not what we think it is.
You see, stuff in and of itself is not evil. We all need a place to live, clothes to wear, and food to eat. Money and possessions on their own are not necessarily harmful or destructive. However, the pursuit of them can be.
In 1 Timothy 6:9, Paul writes, “Those who desire to get rich fall into temptation and a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (emphasis mine).
It’s not the wealth—or the stuff—that kills us; it is the wanting, the longing, the absolutely insatiable desire for it that eventually takes over our hearts and minds, leaving room for little else. Whether or not we can afford it is totally irrelevant.
What matters is the desire of our heart.
In my own life, exhausted by all the fighting and willing to do whatever it took to save my marriage, I finally agreed to a strict budget. I started my blog as a way to hold myself accountable. My goal at first was simply to stretch my budget so I could buy all the things still wanted, but eventually I began to crave and seek a different sort of life, one that wasn’t defined by what we have, but by who we are—the Good Life.
Along the way, I’ve discovered that the Good Life to me is this: a life rich in faith, family, friends and creativity. It is a life full of the richness that God has to offer; a life spent building treasures in heaven rather than here on earth. It is not a life of laziness and greed, but one of discipline, hard work, and self-reflection. It may not always be easy or comfortable, but it is always full in abundance and completely secure in Christ.
That is the life I want to live. Care to join me?
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