Thanks so much for joining me this week in the Wrapped in Grace series. We are ending it with a beautiful message from my friend Cheri Gregory about finding contentment.
But before I introduce you to Cheri, I want to apologize for the mixed up emails I’ve sent and a wrong link yesterday. Basically, I shouldn’t be let near technology. None of it is intuitive and I end up making lots of mistakes.
If you never made it to my blog yesterday, CLICK HERE for the correct link.
You might have noticed something new in my emails, and it’s because I switched email providers to something called Mad Mimi. Well … I’m really technologically challenged and I keep trying to figure it out, but I make one mistake after another.
I’m so grateful no one has sent me an annoyed email. What gracious people you are. Thank you. And I’m sure I’ll have this figured out in another week … or month … or year(s).
And so, without further ado, may I introduce Cheri …
“…be content with what you have, because God has said,
‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’.”
Settling into my favorite chair, I smile and sigh.
I love my life.
Outside the window, a slight flutter catches my eye: a hummingbird. Delighted, I watch the little guy test the feeder options and settle on a favorite flower.
I have everything I could possibly need.
I look slowly around the living room, basking in abundant evidence of rich blessings: shelving units overflowing with books, an over-stuffed couch covered with soft blankets and seafoam green pillows, two cats snoozing in sunbeams.
If I didn’t know better, I’d envy myself!
I giggle and, trying not to feel guilty for being so happy, begin sorting the day’s mail.
A catalog catches my eye.
I don’t need anything, but it’ll be fun to browse for just a quick sec.
Ten minutes, one Sharpie, and fifteen Post-It Notes later, I am a woman possessed. I have found, at long last, the exact kitchen gadgets I need in order to …
I’m at it again.
I glance around the room. Sure enough: my contentment has been replaced by a gnawing sense of need.
The bookshelves are cheap and ugly. The couch is old and stained. The cats ruin everything.
In my lap, more catalogs offer instant solutions to my home improvement problems, quick fixes for the many defects in my wardrobe, and …
I’m not going down this road again.
Bankruptcy no longer tarnishes my credit record, but its lessons are etched into my heart.
I’m still vulnerable.
A book I used to read to Annemarie and Jonathon when they were little comes to mind: The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies.
I shake my head.
I still go from gratitude to gimmie in a heartbeat.
I get up, toss the catalogs in the recycling bin, and return to my chair.
As I watch the hummingbirds flit to and from the feeder, my contentment gradually makes a comeback.
Preparing Our Hearts for a Contented Christmas
During the holiday season, we are bombarded with a barrage of Emails and billboards and sale flyers and TV advertisements that all scream, “You NEED this!”
But what we really need is internal fortitude to resist the external forces ganging up against us.
I’m not suggesting that buying things we need or want is inherently bad. Not by a long shot.
What I am suggesting is that we combat consumerism by intentionally choosing contentment. Here are a few how-to tips, customized for each personality:
An Expressive’s #1 goal is to have fun. We buy a fabulous new outfit or tickets to a big event, thinking, “This is going to be so much fun!” But as the fun fades (as all fun does), we’re tempted to keep spending money to keep the fun coming.
But the key to fun isn’t funding: it’s learning to trade expectation for anticipation. Rather than getting caught up in how much fun an event is supposed to be (followed by disappointment when it isn’t), we can choose to anticipate and then find the fun in each one.
This personality’s life goal is to achieve perfection. It’s so easy for her to get an image of a “picture perfect” holiday in her mind and think, “It isn’t truly Thanksgiving/Christmas unless the ______ (house, meal, tree, etc.) turns out just right!”
When perfection becomes our only conduit for contentment, disappointment is guaranteed: for ourselves and those who feel like they’ve let us down. Instead, we can choose to re-define “perfection” as “good enough” (no matter how much of an oxymoron that may seem to be!) and look for perfect moments to truly enjoy.
For Drivers, whose life goal is control, it’s very easy to treat the entire holiday season as one giant list, moving from one thing to the next: check, check, check. We had that last night, we have this today, and soon it’ll be tomorrow when we will… The danger in this approach is never being present in the moment.
Detaching contentment from achievement may require taking an eraser to the calendar. We may need to say, “No way. I can’t be fully present for every single one of these. I’m just going to be hopping and skipping and jumping but I’m never going to actually be there.” Slowing down and making space for relationships may feel less productive, but it’s what creates true contentment.
The Amiable’s life goal is peace. Always. Between all people. This can be tough at the holidays. Put a bunch of people with different personalities together, add some travel, throw in gifts, mix with fatigue, and Peace on Earth is not an easy goal to achieve.
It helps to remind ourselves that sometimes the messiness, chaos, and even conflicts of life are normal. We can focus on being grateful for those who have gathered together, even when they aren’t getting along perfectly. Even when the people around us aren’t exactly peaceful, we can still choose contentment.
Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is The Cure for the Perfect Life. You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Cheri’s blog. PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th, at http://www.WrappedInGrace.info.
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. She is a frequent presenter at women’s retreats, parent groups, and educational conferences. She has contributed to or coauthored a dozen books, most with Kathi Lipp, including The Cure for the “Perfect” Life: 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver and Clutter Free.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-seven years. She is “Mom” to Annemarie (24) and Jonathon (22), who are also opposite personalities. The Gregory family lives on the central California coast.
Cheri’s passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” You can visit Cheri’s website and connect with her on Facebook.