If only my house was bigger.
If I could just lose five pounds.
If I had fewer wrinkles.
If only I were young again.
If I just received the promotion.
If my clothes were nicer.
If I had a better car.
If only I were in better shape.
If I just had a few more likes, or followers.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Have you ever struggled with attaching your self worth to any of these things?
I know I have.
There have been times in my life when I’ve felt like if I could only have something a little nicer, look a little better, get rid of some of that extra flab, then maybe, just maybe I will feel completely content.
But the reality is, the more I get of these things, it seems the more I want. If I lose 2 pounds, then maybe I could lose 5? If I paint one wall, then why don’t I paint two? If I get the jeans I want, wouldn’t they look so much better with a new pair of shoes?
And on and on it goes.
There is nothing wrong with desiring things in life. There is nothing wrong with setting goals, or working toward something in particular. New jeans, painted walls and an awesome workout regimen that tones your body aren’t bad things.
For me, the danger is when I misplace my hope onto these external factors that will never completely satisfy. They may cause a temporary rush, or the release of some endorphins that make me feel momentarily excited, but eventually that feeling will go away.
And leave me wanting more.
The other week, I went into a store to shop. It was the first time I had perused a store in a long time. I bought a delicious smelling candle, a funky shirt, and an adorable glass that makes me smile whenever I drink from it. When I left, I was elated. It was so much fun to pick out these items. Over the next few days, I found myself wandering around my house thinking of more things I could buy. Wouldn’t a new light fixture look good here? We could really use a new duvet. How about replacing the door handles? We’ve been wanting to do that for awhile. These pillows are old. Don’t you think? I had someone come in to paint our kitchen walls. And asked if maybe he could come back next week to do our bedroom.
I was on a roll. And honestly, still am a little bit. I have been daydreaming of some coasters and taper candleholders from West Elm, and have been trying to convince myself of why they really need to end up in my online shopping cart.
I hadn’t been shopping in so long. That one trip ignited something in me.
Again, there is nothing wrong with shopping. There is nothing wrong with decorating your home. Or wanting to paint your walls.
The problem is when we are looking to those things to fill something inside of us that can’t be filled by material possessions. Or accolades. Or our appearance. Or the approval of other people.
I am still going to have our bedroom painted. And I will probably buy those couple of decorations I’ve been eyeballing. I do recognize it’s been a different few months and I spend almost all of my time inside of my home. It makes sense with spring approaching that I would start to want to declutter, and spruce it up a bit. Honestly, this kind of happens to me around this time every year.
But I realized today that I do need to check my heart, and check my motives. Maybe even more so now that we are living in a pandemic than before. Why am I wanting these things? Am I trying to find contentment in something that will ultimately leave me wanting more? Am I trying to fill a deeper need with material possessions? Am I trying to avoid something, or escape something?
If this is some self-help situation, it won’t lead me anywhere but wanting more and more, and with a dwindling bank account.
I hope and pray I can recognize these moments when the “if onlys” are getting the best of me. These moments when I am trying to find contentment in things that will never fully satisfy, and more times than not – will ultimately leave me wanting more.