Halloween has barely ended and Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet, and already I have a case of the “gimmies” at my house. Christmas lists were written well before even Columbus Day so this is a new low for the Thompson household.
I can’t complain as I just got the new iPhone 6 (I didn’t pay for it though – perk of my job). I am pretty much in love with some of the features on this phone (the camera really is that amazing!). I didn’t realize how much I wanted it until I had it. Now my daughters are already vying for my old android phone.
What mom hasn’t had to deal with a child who wants it all? Who believes every media advertisement that she hears? Whether it’s a pair of shoes (they must light up!), a new Ever After High doll, or the latest tablet or phone, the wants and whines of discontent echo throughout our house and any store we may attend. It seems a Madison Avenue Madness has taken over my children.
Discontentment isn’t a new concept though, so don’t start blaming marketing executives just yet. Discontentment drove Eve to eat forbidden fruit, and discontentment made the Israelites complain about God’s provision for them in the wilderness. Discontent has also fueled wars, torn marriages and families apart, and increased national and personal debt.
Although that is a lot of bad news, there is hope. Contentment is possible. The apostle Paul was able to be content saying, “I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens” (Phil 4:11). How could Paul be so content while imprisoned in jail? He kept a strong focus on God. Paul knew contentment was not found in people, places, or possessions. True satisfaction means putting God first and everything else second.
Sounds easy, but it’s hard to do when you’re surrounded by the “I wants.” Trends capitalize on a child’s (or adult’s) needs for acceptance by peers. Unfortunately, once a child acquires the all-important item of the moment, something else is sure to beckon. To spare our children from this pressure of unneeded purchases, look at what you already own. If all your possessions were destroyed tomorrow, what item would be on your “must replace” list? Would you merely want them replaced or truly need them replaced? Could I live without my new iPhone?
During the Christmas season, my kids know that Santa only brings 3 gifts because that is how many baby Jesus got. This helps limit the amount of “stuff” the kids will ask for. Also, in lieu of gifts on my side of the family, we donate to a charity picked by whoever has the time capsule box that year. We rent a huge cabin in the woods and have a slumber party for the kids with Christmas cookies, s’mores, eggnog, and bunk beds. The kids look forward to this Christmas tradition more than they do any other gift because they know it will be an amazing, fun time with family. I know it will be a lasting memory they will cherish forever, especially when they forget what was the “fad” toy that season.
They are starting to find contentment God’s way. It’s not easy, but each day we are trying to stuff away the Madison Avenue Madness of discontent and replace it with godly satisfaction instead. Contentment makes a happy home because it is the opposite of contention. This year my kids are excited to give a shoebox of goodies to a deserving child through Operation Christmas Child. Gratefulness most often begins with our attitude at home. An understanding of how much worse things could be is an important part of developing gratefulness.
“Let your conduct be without covetousness, be content with such things as you have.” – Hebrews 13:5 NKJV