Not too long ago, I wrote a post on why I stopped hustling, and why I wish I’d done it sooner. That was a really raw post about my emotions of how I got to a place where I decided I was ready to be done, to give it all up, and walk away.
As an individual, I made intentional choices to let a lot of things go and have a Year of Rest instead. As a team, we made some really big changes to help me take a step back and create more breathing room for myself.
It’s almost July and I’ve learned so much this year that has changed me in many ways. Just a few weeks into 2016, I started to realize that I had become very addicted to being busy. This was a powerful realization.
Just a few months in, I also was acutely aware of the fact that so much of my worth was wrapped up in my work. I felt valued and validated by how much I did, how many people I impacted, and how productive I was.
I recently finished reading A Life of Being, Having and Doing Enough and it challenged me to really consider the concept of ENOUGH. I think our culture often encourages the lie that more is always better.
More money. More influence. More impact. More fame. More stuff. More friends. More. More. More. More.
While there can be good things with some of those “more’s”, it’s time we stop spending our life chasing after more and really stop and ask ourselves, “When is enough, enough?”
I’ve been asking myself the following questions:
- Am I only feeling contentment when I’m doing a lot?
- Is my joy and fulfillment coming from when I am having the biggest impact?
- What does enough look like for me?
- Would I be settled right where I’m at with what I have?
- Would I be content if I knew that where I am right now will never change?
These questions can apply to so many different areas and situations in our lives. For me, I instantly thought of two areas:
1) The Number of Children We Have
I have three wonderful kids. Which I’m so very grateful for. But I always thought we’d have a big family (Both my husband and I grew up in big families and we always wanted a big family ourselves). Instead, God gave us 3 kids… and my baby just turned 7!
I’ll be honest, there are times when I see other people announcing their pregnancy or I see little babies, I feel that pang in my heart. I’ve decided, though, that I can either focus on what I don’t have or I can rejoice in the children I do have. Because so many, many people would love to have three kids!
We are so blessed. I want to pour myself into exactly where I am and be the best mother I can be to the three kids God has given me instead of spending time wishing I had something I didn’t have.
2) The House We Live In
We are committed to staying out of debt and are saving to pay cash for a house here in TN. However, because of the housing prices here, it will likely be at least another 18 months to 2 years (or more!) before we have enough saved up to pay 100% down on a house.
In the meantime, we’re back to renting again — something we did for the first 8 years of our marriage. The house we’re in is less than ideal in many ways… including the fact that all three kids are in one bedroom right now because this is the best arrangement we could come up with here.
Some people would say we are terrible parents for living in a house where they all have to share a room and don’t have a lot of their “own space”. But here’s the truth: Our kids were little when we made a LOT of financial and personal sacrifices to get to the place where we are now. They don’t remember those days.
We now have a lot more wiggle room in our budget and they get to enjoy things we never imagined we’d be able to afford for them — like swim team and figure skating and even an international trip to South Africa last year. However, we don’t want them to grow up thinking that everything will be handed to them. We want them to experience short-term sacrifices for long-term benefits.
So we’ve chosen to continue to rent a house that has less than ideal sleeping arrangements (along with a long list of other “less than ideal” things) because it allows us to be able to save aggressively and give generously.
We’re learning contentment in the house that we’re in and being grateful for the many things about it that we love — like the wonderful neighbors, a beautiful kitchen, and a great backyard. Our hope is that these lessons in contentment will be something our kids will carry with them for the rest of their lives — no matter where they live.
I’ve been asking myself: If we weren’t ever able to buy a house with more bedrooms or had to downsize even more, would I be content?
How Can I Do Less Chasing and More Embracing?
Maybe for you, it’s your income level. Maybe you are struggling with where you are living or going to church. Maybe you wish you had a better job, different friends, better health, a spouse… the list could go on and on.
Whatever those things are that you really wish you could have, I challenge you to ask yourself, “Would I be content if I knew that where I am right now will never change?”
What does embracing enough look like for you? I’m not saying you shouldn’t work on improving your situation or set goals or build character or apply for jobs or whatever it is that would help you get closer to your goals and hopes and dreams.
However, I also want to challenge you to consider if you’re just chasing after more instead of embracing right where you are. If you’re spending your days pining for more and better instead of wholeheartedly loving the life you already have.
For me, I’m throwing my energy into loving and nurturing the beautiful children God has given me. I want to disciple them, encourage them, walk with them, and be present with them. In addition, I’m seeking to embrace the home we have and make it as welcoming for my family. I don’t have to have a bigger house or a better layout in order to make this home I currently have a haven of rest.
Let’s stop spending our time and our days chasing after more and instead start embracing the here and now — right where we are!
Related: When She Gets That Thing You Really Wanted
Wow. I needed that. For 4 years I’ve been on the we need a new house kick. I need a rest. To not worry about it and tonjist be content.
This is exactly what I needed to hear today. My career, my home, my family, I was really discontent right now. Then I read this right after I saw a sign that said “Don’t let your ice cream melt while you’re eyeing someone else’s sprinkles”! Thank you Crystal. <3
My siblings and I slept in the same room for 3 years in an apartment, we loved it. No harm in this. It is what it is and you are debt free. Yay
Jessie Lowe says
Great post. My husband and I belong to a group called 25 to Life. This organization encourages people in ministry to stay where they are, namely, New England. It is encouraging people to let where they are be enough, because that, in turn, encourages spiritual growth, in pastors and in church bodies. Now, we will leave if our church asks us to for some reason, or if God makes it extremely obvious that our ministry here is done, but in the mean time, we are learning contentment and the value of commitment.
We had to put our three daughters in a room together when our baby boy cane along. My husband was discouraged about them having to share, and wanted to go into debt to finish our basement with a bedroom for them. I showed him your post and was able to
help him realize we were ok for this season. And we can save up to
Finish our our project instead of going into debt. Thanks for your post!
You are so smart to do this. Two years will go by in the blink of an eye. That is nothing. The payoff will be huge.
Thanks so much for this post. We are currently in the process of a job change for my husband and a move from our first home where we brought home all four of our kids. We have opted for a smaller house to keep our payments the same they are now, so that we can still pay down school debt and then save for the future (which may or may not include a bigger house). Part of the reason for our move was to change our outlook. To slow down, enjoy family time more, and be content with what we have. We are praying that the Lord will teach us contentment and sacrifice as we figure this new transition out.
I needed this post today. I am off work right now because of a back injury and facing the prospect of a second surgery and the reality that I need to “move into the slow lane” in order to prevent this problem from recurring again. Needless to say, I am feeling overwhelmed right now. I keep telling myself that “I don’t have a bad work ethic, I have a bad back.”
I needed this today. I often start to feel down from comparing and wanting what i think we “need.” We have been very blessed as well and I sometimes forget that. We have 3 beautiful children, we have a house, we have water, electricity, and food. We have gone without those things before. How easy it is to forget! Thank you for your post.
Mary E Kirwan says
This was a good wake up call for me. I get the “less than ideal” we are currently living in an extended stay motel because the place I was trying to buy turned into a nightmare long story short shoddy landlord who hired less than professionals to remodle the place. I need to be reminded sometimes that we are better off where we are even if it is in some ways less than ideal and that God has provided his wisdom and power to see us through the struggles. Thank you!!!
My husband and I are about to downsize our home so we can pay cash for a house. It is something I have been praying about doing for a year, and God worked on my husband’s heart. Our girls will most likely be sharing a room too, but I remember sharing a room! I look forward to their giggles at night and watching them grow closer. Thanks for your post. It’s great to know of others going against what’s “normal” also. Blessings to your family.
Sue Sundstrom says
This is such a great post – thank you Crystal! We all need to learn contentment where-ever we’re at – there will always be someone “better off” than us and always someone with less than what we have! Because of an illness I’ve had ‘forced rest’ for most of this year and it’s been a challenge at times, as there was often an urge in me to ‘do more’ and accomplish more. I’ve had to be happy with myself, doing less and helping others far less than I’m accustomed to. Contentment in our current situation is a really valuable lesson for all of us to learn. Thank you so much for this heartfelt, honest post & brilliant reminder. xxx
Crystal, you’re so spot on with this post. Embracing contentment is the cornerstone of frugal living, but I think I overlooked the need to find contentment with where I am in my life right now instead of always looking to find my fulfillment in the future. So Thanks! I needed this post.
Crystal Paine says
I’m so grateful it encouraged you! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you so much for your insights, they have helped to clarify some of my uncertainties.
With regards to the children sharing their bedroom – I think that is one of the best things ever. It helps young children to learn sharing, respect, negotiation, cooperation and to cut down on the me-ness.
David Schmidt says
Wow. What a convicting article. It has encouraged me to focus more on the positive and realize God has a plan for my family and business. Thanks for sharing.
I love that you’re teaching them to sacrifice now and the reward is later. Kids shouldn’t be in their rooms anyway…they should be outside playing. Buying a house with cash means mom and dad aren’t stressed like most families who live paycheck to paycheck.
My three kids and I currently live with my parents and step brother. All three of them share a bedroom there and love it. I think it’s great you all are going to buy a house with cash. That is also a goal of mine which is why we continue to stay with my parents. Our family is better because I didn’t jump into a different living arrangement that I could or didn’t want to afford until my student loans are paid off. Just thought it was cool to see another family with three kids in the same room 🙂
love this post
my word for this year from God was Enough
God is enough
I am enough
I have enough
and enough is enough
it has served me very well, i am now working on contentment and if you can master that,i believe the peace in life will multiply, its a challenge,
you seem like a lovely family and you also seem to have your priorities right, God bless Jacqueline
I love the questions you’ve been asking yourself. They were really helpful for me. I think a lot of times I trick myself into thinking I’m a content person because I’m not such a “stuff” person. But I often feel discontent with my time and energy levels. I regularly tell my husband I don’t feel like there’s enough of me to go around (mainly in taking care of our family). But if God put me in this place and these roles, I can know that the energy He supplies will be enough. I need to prioritize and let the rest go. Thanks for the inspiration this morning! 🙂
This is beautiful, Crystal.
I know I’ve said it before on this blog, but I look back on our time of “hardship” as a family as one of God’s greatest gifts to my children. Doing without some things and learning to be content with less has shaped them into really cool people. I have teenagers who have compassion and empathy and…gratitude, and I know it is in large part because of those lean years.
Your kids sleeping in one room will be just fine. i can already imagine their delight and genuine gratitude when their sleeping situation shifts! (And, ironically, my kids all have their own rooms, but all summer long, they sleep together in the basement (it’s cooler). Epic sleepover.
I’m so glad you’re slowing down. It’s such a good thing.
Alicia Hamilton says
This is awesome!!! Wow!! You’ve gone through an “awakening” of sorts haven’t you? I could totally relate and it sounded like me when I first reached this epiphany! So awesome to read this! Keep doing what you are doing! May God continue to lead your family!
I am really struggling with contentment, finding my purpose and significance in life right now. My husband has a very public, prominent job that garners a lot of attention and I often feel invisible as a SAHM.
Maria Cochrane says
Thank you for this post and I’m so glad to have found other liked-minded people. And for Christina who feels insignificant, go out and look for those others who need encouragement. Serve where there is a need. That is where you will find purpose and joy and belonging. You were wired by God for that.
Crystal- you continually inspire me! Thank you for this post today- it is just what I needed to read. I recently wrote about this too because so many around us are making different choices and it takes a lot of strength to be content with where you are. I’m so proud of you! xo
I love this post! It is so easy to forget to be content when we live in this “wanting it all” world. I was just talking to my husband about contentment last night on a long distance drive. My teenage son heard us from the back seat and reminded me of this verse: 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. Phil 4:12 Thank you for being so transparent and so encouraging.
Great post Crystal. Thank you for sharing.
I appreciate your authenticity in sharing this. As usually we see the perfectly placed mantle or immaculate kitchen. I have loved your posts since about the time you quit biblical womanhood, I have no idea how many years. Any way, I appreciate and continue to check in here because its real. God continues to use each of us in our very own unique ways. I continue to tell people that we choose to tell our money where it’s going not the other way around (Thanks Dave and another guy whose name seems to escape me). Everyone’s choices seem to be different if only people would encourage each other in their choices instead of condemn them. Thank You!!!
The Lord has been dealing with my heart concerning contentment. I am striving to focus on the many blessings in my life rather than focusing on my wants. Love the list of questions and will use them to help me stay focused!
Thanks for helping me become more content with our circumstances. Currently we rent and live in a 850 square ft 2bd house with three kids and our forth on the way. Our desire is to move to Tanzania as missionaries but that process has taken longer than we had hoped though it is still moving that way. Often I struggle with discontentment as I look at our little yard and little house. My kiddos are all very young and have a lot of energy with very little space to go. Thank you for helping me feel normal today and choosing to see the many sweet things about this home and the Lord’s gracious provision in it. Blessings on the journey.
Abby H. says
Thank you so much for the encouragement. I was thinking of, maybe if I had this, that, more, less, etc. It made me reflect, pause and realize…I should be content and will be content. I had to share with my husband..thank you for being transparent, stay blessed 🙂
Thank you again for another great post. We too, have learned to be content, by God showing us the blessing of slowing down, and living on less, and having less. We sold our 2100 sq ft home in Indiana, and moved into a rental down here in Tennessee 2 1/2 years ago. We are in our 2nd rental since moving, and the 1st home we rented, had 2 bedrooms, which meant our then 14 year old daughter, and our then 9 year old son had to share a room. They had always had their own rooms when we lived in Indiana. They never complained once, and God has shown us all to be content. We also are not buying a home, until we can 100% pay cash for it, so in the mean time, we continue to rent. The home we are in now, is technically a 2 bedroom, but we have converted, what would be the living room into a bedroom for our son (only downfall, he has no door), and what would be the dining room, we have made our living room/dining room. Your children will see the benefits of being content, they won’t mind sharing a room. In fact, they will probably have many memories of this time. Thank you for being so real on your blog. Blessings to you and your family.
Julie @ Back To My Southern Roots says
Your kids will look back with fondness on sharing a room. That’s wonderful you have a goal and are following through. They will respect that!
I think the key themes here are priorities and sacrifice. Right now your priority is saving up to pay cash for a house. In order to do that you need to sacrifice in certain areas of your life. Perfectly reasonable! Our priority was sending our 3 daughters to Catholic school from pre-k through 12th grade. In order to do that, we are still living in our 2 bedroom 1 bath “starter” house. Our daughters have always shared a room! We could have sent them to public school and lived in a huge house on the beach, but that wasn’t what our priority was. We made the sacrifice to live in a small house so we had enough money to pay school tuition. It wasn’t always easy, but it has paid off. My oldest and middle daughters are in college now and they both were amazed at the large size of their dorm rooms (which really weren’t very big but were bigger than their room at home, lol). My youngest will be a high school senior this fall and she sees her friends drive Mercedes and BMWs to school while she drives a 1999 Toyota Corolla (with only 91,000 miles!) that we got from my father-in-law when he passed away. She is very appreciative that she has a car at all! Sometimes I get a bit down about our living situation (leaky roof, old kitchen) but then I have to remind myself that I have MUCH MORE than many people in the world. My husband and I own 2 businesses and although they are successful, we are NOT rolling in the dough, like some like to assume. We are comfortable but if we need to sacrifice for another “something” that we believe is a priority, we will do it. And it will be okay!
BUSY MOM IN AL says
Just wanted to mention that my husband built a simple “trundle” bed by getting a piece of plywood cut to fit under the bunk beds and adding coaster wheels! We can’t roll it under with a pillow on top but it fits great and we just put the pillow on the bottom bunk on the opposite end. It has been a wonderful way to fit more kids in a room. 🙂
You and I are on opposite themes. God has given me a year of rest, which turned into 3. It was exactly what I needed. God knew that. It helped me deal with these questions: what is my purpose, who am I, what makes me valuable and why do I feel like I need to run all the time.
God now has me in a very busy season. I couldn’t last here forever; my body would wear out and my family would suffer. I keep asking God for a change, but I am not seeing any relief. Because of the time I had to dig into God’s Word and the time figuring out who I am during my season of rest, I know that God has me here for a purpose. I will do my best with this craziness and let God control things. I am happiest when I submit to Him and not let circumstances affect me.
I wish you all the best in your season of rest! May God bless everyone who is learning to depend on Him and not on their circumstances.
Keelie @Love Hope Adventure says
I think I hit that point of, this is enough, about two and a half years ago. My husband made a huge career change that rocked my world. I was angry, hurt, and very lost. I realized my worth was tied up in his job, because it affected my ability to be who I felt God was leading me to be. Through some very tough times, I learned that if I was ever going to be content, I’d have to stop wanting for different, more, or whatever. If I couldn’t be happy right here, right now, I’d never be happy. So, I made some huge changes in my mind and attitude and settled with what I have. That word, settled…is exactly why I nothing was ever enough for me. I felt like if I ever settled, then I wouldn’t push towards goals. Finally, I realized that always pushing and never settling was really hurting my ability to enjoy what I had.
It seems like God has been teaching many people these same concepts.
That last question is a doozy! And once again, you are right on time. 🙂
Krystal @ Little Light on a Hill says
Great read! My kids share a room too. The house we lived in was less than 1,000 square feet and at first we had no choice. But our girls loved it so much, we now have an extra bedroom and they chose to still share! Finding contentment in every situation reminds you of what life is really all about.
Crystal, I’ve been on a similar journey on being content and happy just where I am, and thanking God every day, just for the day and the family and the life I have. I often think to my mom/dad and how they raised us 4 children, my brother was born in 1961, sisters in 64′, 65′ and me in 71′ and how our parents were happy with what they had. It is so different this generation, my kids are 12 and 13 and I try my best to just let them have a similar upbringing, based on what is truly important, not what society now says is important. Crystal, you and your family are wonderful and what you do each day as a mom/wife is enough-just enjoy and let God lead!
Wow Crystal, I had to double check to see that it was you who wrote this post! I’ve seen all the photos of your kitchen and assumed you must have a really nice big modern house! Honestly it’s very comforting to know you’re “keeping it real” in life. I can SO relate to everything in this post. Thank you!
Crystal Paine says
Our kitchen is BEAUTIFUL and we love it… and it helps make up for a lot of the less-than-ideal parts of this house. 🙂
I felt a pang in my heart when you talked about your children. I always hoped to have 4 children, but that dream died when my husband left me when our second child was just two years old. My 2 children are adults now, and they’ve grown up to be happy, caring, productive, wonderful people. I feel so very blessed, especially when I hear of those who can’t have any children. Yet, every now and then, I feel a twinge of sadness for the children that never came to be.
Thank you! Once again, you have inspired me to grow and become a better person, wife and mother.
Crystal Paine says
I’m so glad it inspired you! Thank you for your encouragement!
This past year has been a hard one for me. I look at others and wonder why when I’m putting in all this hard work things are not changing for me.
Then my husband said maybe they won’t change until my attitude changes. I have to be honest at first it hurt me, what am I doing wrong that I want to do better and then it hit me. I was becoming discontent with comparing myself to others.
As I let go of the discontentment and started finding joy in the little changes that were happening I have to say my whole attitude has changed for the better.
You have really encouraged me today with this. It is very honest and helps me to remember I need to stay focused on content with where I am and keep working towards where I would someday like to be God willing. Thank you!
Crystal Paine says
This is SO good! Thank you for sharing! This really challenged and encouraged me in my own life.
Very good – thank you for sharing!
Thank you. So good for me to read.
Crystal Paine says
I’m so glad it was an encouragement!
Davonne @ The Tidy Mom says
This is beautiful, Crystal. And I think that your two things would be in my top three list as well. Thank you for sharing your heart with your readers.
Crystal Paine says
Thanks so much for your kind encouragement!
I think that right now the idea of “enough” can be applied to my blog. It can be easy to look at women who run amazing blogs with huge followings and feel a bit discontent with my modest one. I do want to work hard, to help others, and to earn an income to support us in these lean times. However, I don’t want to compare myself to others in the process.
Crystal Paine says
Such a good reminder! Thank you so much for sharing!