I walked into Target the other day.
You have to understand, this is a big deal for me.
Here in Canada, we do not have Target. It was here for the blink of an eye and then gone, much to my dismay. I did my best to support the economy when it was here, but my lowly purchasing dollars were apparently not enough to keep them in the black this side of the 49th parallel.
Regardless, every now and then, when I foray into the lovely USA, I make a point of visiting Target. My husband might suggest to you that I plan our itineraries around Target locations, but I would say that’s slightly exaggerated. (He never lets facts get in the way of a good story!)
But I digress.
I can’t adequately explain what happens to me when I walk through those magical doors. I browse the housewares aisles, gently caressing the new painted ceramic butter dish I didn’t know I needed. Gazing wistfully at the matched set of milk glass goblets I have no room in my cupboards for. Realizing that what’s really been missing in my life is a re-decorated kitchen with copper accents.
And don’t get me started on the fact that Chip and Joanna Gaines now have a Target housewares line.
I just can’t.
Whatever the marketing gurus at the home office are doing speaks directly into my soul. There is something about Target that practically invites me to part with my money. It’s probably a good thing that I don’t live in the US. We know from my small Amazon problem that liberal access is not a great thing for this undisciplined girl.
God is gracious in many ways.
Even though I jest about it, there’s something there that I need to pay attention to. And it looks a lot like discontent.
Recently, I wrote about how I spent many years chasing busy in my quest to bring meaning and purpose to my day-to-day life.
The truth is this: I’m restless.
Is that the same as discontent? I’m not sure I like that idea. I tend to think of restless as something that pertains to energy, and discontent as a deeper soul issue: something’s lacking in me.
There is a quote attributed to 16th century mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, which has seen some variations and mutations over the centuries since. But it’s one that I think of often. Especially when I’m walking through the aisles of Target, lusting after all the things I didn’t know I needed until that very moment.
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator.”
Is my restless nature simply me trying to find something to fill a vacuum—or hole—in me that was only ever intended to fit God in the first place?
If so, I can simplify my schedule and de-clutter my life all I want, but if I’m not addressing the underlying issue of why I’m discontent:
*why I struggle to finish things I start,
*why I think that new piece of furniture, or paint, or book, or busy schedule—or whatever my current vice is—is finally going to be the thing that satisfies me,
then my life will always be characterized by ‘never enough.’ I will spend my life pursuing some elusive notion of enough. But I will never be content.
Writer Shannan Martin recently wrote this: “Our contentment, and even our ability to meaningfully connect, depends on our willingness to take a long look at what’s around us and call it good.”
I would go one step further and add that we also need to be able to call it enough.
My infrequent visits to Target shine a glaring spotlight on the fact that I clearly have some work to do in this area. My house is lovely. And full. And I don’t need a new butter dish, or copper kitchen accents or milk glass goblets.
I’m working on looking at what’s around me and calling it good. And enough.
Which brings me to this:
Christmas is just around the corner.
I only know this because the merchandise has been in some stores since September and, with Hallowe’en now behind us, the retail flyers are starting to arrive.
Only 47 shopping days left! Nothing highlights our first world “lack” more than the myriad relentless ads and commercials telling us what will make our lives complete this Christmas. (Do I need to clarify that this is intended to be sarcasm, or do you just know?)
I will confess to you that I’m not a big fan of Christmas. Not the season or the reason we celebrate, but I resent what we’ve made it. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘me.’ Because I know that for many years I contributed to the crazy, retail-frenzied, Martha Stewart-esque packaging, complete with all the trimmings and five kinds of baking.
But also, I know that a five-year-old doesn’t really get a thrill from sponsoring a family goat in a remote village in a developing country. (Ask me how I know.) Unwrapping a gift as we celebrate the greatest gift is ok. So, where’s the balance?
How do we approach the Christmas season and all its trappings and still cultivate contentment in the midst of it?
In short, I’m looking to come out of the holidays sane. And not broke. With normal blood pressure readings, and a feeling of contentment, not resentment.
Because I know my village is full of smart, well-balanced people, I’d love for you to share some ideas with me. How do you keep the holidays sane?
How do you resist the temptation to over-spend and over-decorate and over-do? (Especially if you live near a Target???)
I have an upcoming advent series that I’m working on and I’m collecting stories and ideas. I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to submit a comment below or message me on Instagram @jdilger
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.
I have learned the secret of living in every situation,
whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
In preparation for the holidays, I’ve been spending a little bit of time over at @thelazygenius listening to Kendra Adachi’s latest series on combatting Holiday Overwhelm. It’s awesome! From planning ahead and establishing boundaries to budgeting, she’s got all the bases covered. You can also find her at thelazygeniuscollective.com
If you have not yet discovered the Lazy Genius, pop on over there as soon as you’re done here and check out her stuff. I instantly knew she was my kind of people when I read the intro on her website. Actually, if I’m being honest, I knew it when I read the word LAZY right there in her title. But her intro is good too:
No more living like a headless chicken.
If you’re constantly spinning your wheels and don’t really know what for, this is where you’re allowed to feel normal. Let’s embrace being a genius about the things that matter – the table, traditions, rest, relationships, and a robust Netflix queue – and lazy about the things that don’t.
(We’ll ignore the fact that she spelled honoured wrong. She’s American, they’re efficient with their letters and don’t liberally throw their u’s around.)
If you’ve enjoyed this little musing, feel free to subscribe to receive future blog posts. (Scroll down to the bottom of my Home page to where it says “Subscribe.”)
I’m doing my best at navigating the twists and turns of this life with faith, hope and humour. Putting one foot in front of the other, and—hopefully—not in my mouth. (I’m not sure you fully appreciate how difficult this is for me.)
Based on my previous track record, I don’t promise that my posts will be consistent, or inconsistent, but I’ll try for amusing. At the very least, I hope you’ll come away feeling a little better about yourself.
Thanks for visiting!