I found an interesting article in the Lookout this week.  (The Lookout is a very small weekly paper that my home church down in NC passes out each Sunday to the congregation).  It contained a quote from Brad Pitt.  It immediately peaked my interest because just the day before my mom and I were discussing Brad and Angelina’s HUGE new purchase–an almost $70 MILLION dollar estate in France.  The home has 35 bedrooms–35 BEDROOMS!!!!–a moat, a vineyard, lake, forest and swimming pool.  What in the world are they thinking?  Well I think this quote from Brad may be a little telling . . .

He told a Rolling Stones reporter:

“Man, I know all these things are supposed to seem important to us–the car, the condo, our version of success–but if that’s the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more importence and isolation and desperation and loneliness?  If you ask me, I say toss all this–we gotta find something else–I’m the guy who’s got everything.  I’m sitting in it, and I’m telling you, that’s not it.”

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  It makes you wonder about the past few years of Brad and Angelina’s lives.  Now I know that no one knows the heart of a man (or woman!) but God but it does make you wonder what their motives are for the charity work that they do.   I am assuming that they are not Christians–so what is the purpose for all the work they do overseas with orphans, the poor, etc?  I’m guessing it’s to make them feel good about themselves.  Or maybe because they think it’s the ‘right thing to do’.  I mean geez–seventy million dollars!  Spent on some bricks and mortar that will be nothing but dust one day.  Did they stop to think about the homeless?  The millions of starving people around the world?  The Haitians that are surviving on mud cakes?  

I got thinking about this a little deeper and I got thinking about Jesus’s teaching about the rich.  He stated that it was easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  It’s easy for us to point fingers at the ‘rich’.  The Hollywood stars.  Politicians.  Bill Gates.  But when you stop and think that the poorest people in America are still richer than the majority of people in the world it puts things in a new perspective.  Am I the rich person Jesus was talking about?  I’m not considered rich by a lot of people’s standards, but I’m not eating mud cakes either.  What have I done personally to help those Haitians?  What have I done to help the homeless?  What have I done to help the hungry?  I have no right to point fingers at anyone.   

Two of my favorite books in the Bible are letters that the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy.  Timothy was a young leader of a church and Paul wrote letters to him from prison encouraging him and instructing him.  In Timothy 6:6-10 he states:

Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth.  After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die.   So if we have enough food and clothing let us be content.  But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil.  And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 

The Bible talks a LOT about money.  And the rich.  And the poor.  One thing that is made very clear is that there is no contentment apart from Jesus.  You will not find contentment in ‘stuff’, in success, or in fame.  Those who have tried that path, like Brad Pitt, have found that out first hand.  They keep looking for fulfillment and they are not finding it. 

I’m the first to confess that contentment is something that I am still working on.  It’s hard not to desire more, more, more when that is all we see in the media.  If we just buy this or buy that we’ll be happy.  I fall into that trap frequently.  Consumerism sucks.  Seriously sucks.  Consumerism is defined as “the equating of personal happiness with the purchasing of material possessions and consumption.”  Think about advertisements you see.  That is exactly what they want you to think!  You need this shampoo to make your hair silky.  You need this make up because you skin is ugly without it.  You need to be skinny.  Be tall.  Dress like this.  Drive this.  Cover up those wrinkles.  Eat this.  Vacation here.  It’s a never ending cycle and we as Americans get sucked right up into it.  We will never be content when we seek happiness in earthly possessions. 

When I sit and think about how fleeting life is and how small of a speck I am on this earth it brings me back to focus on the grander scheme of things.  I need to focus on heavenly things instead of earthly things.  Simplify.  Simplify.  Simplify.  I don’t need, nor do I WANT, an extravagant life.  I don’t want an extravagant home (I’d be happy in an RV or a yurt!).  I don’t need to eat steak every night.  I don’t need the newest or most expensive clothes.  I don’t care what anyone thinks of my clothes, my hair (I’d actually love to let it dread up), my makeup (or lack of), my teeth, my car, my home.  Those things are not important to me anymore.  (Now granted, I’m not going to stop bathing and I promise I’ll still clean my house if you come and visit!).  But my focus is on an eternal one.  I just want to love Jesus.  Love my neighbor.  Love my fellow man.  And that doesn’t require one single dime.   



6 Responses to “Contentment”

  1. 1 Heather June 11, 2008 at 5:13 am

    Awesome post, Laura! I bet Aaron is proud of this one because it sounds kinda like one that he would write…

    I told him yesterday that I just need 2 more kitchen cabinets and I would be happy (I know, sounds stupid right?) Actually, I figured out that I would be fine if I could just rearrange the ones that are arranged dumb and take out the dishwasher, so there, Aaron. But you know, I came from the Mennonites, and they were pretty good at teaching me about this kind of stuff and I have carried that with me into now. Reber always tells me to buy something for myself, and sometimes I do, but most of the time I don’t even care. Yet somehow I still manage to have a lot of stuff. I am working on this too and it is very freeing (and much easier to keep your house clean). I love magazines and one thing I’ve done is not get them anymore. They always clutter up my house and take up my time and reading them (although I enjoyed it) felt like something else that I HAD to get done. I don’t need recipes sent to me each month when I already have (for free). Good for you for working on simple living and thanks for the post…

  2. 2 Aaron June 11, 2008 at 6:28 am

    I might want to steal this for a sermon sometime… super awesome post, babe.

  3. 3 Melissa Parks June 11, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Great post! Something we all need to think about and be more careful about. More stuff does not equal happiness. In fact, imho it equals more clutter and more to clean! Thanks for the thought provoking blog!

  4. 4 lsaufley June 11, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Amen Lissa! I am so sick of my cluttered home that is full of stupid stuff that I have wasted my money on. Aaron and I just had a discussion about taking a bunch of stuff to the Goodwill on Saturday. (I can’t take my baby stuff though–that’ll go to the resale shop. I can at least make a little bit of money off of some of it!) But I am going to do some more major decluttering of this place this week! I hate clutter!!!!!

  5. 5 queensimmons June 13, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Wow – lots of great points in there, especially about consumerism. I agree totally with simplify, simplify, simplify. Life is supposed to be enjoyable now, always… not just someday.
    Homemaker Barbi

  1. 1 Time Flies… « Trackback on June 11, 2008 at 7:14 am

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June 2008

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