For many, the holiday season is a happy time. It's also a time when many people are tempted to spend more than they have, resulting in overinflated credit-card balances.
I've had to battle the urge to overspend, not only to get things for myself, but also to buy gifts for other people. It seems so much fun to get the latest gadget or whatever. But the excitement soon fades. Sometimes I would buy things without even thinking about why I wanted or needed them.
About five years ago, as a family, we decided to bring our spending under control. We had a very large balance on a credit card, and it was getting pretty scary because it only grew larger. The change in our spending habits hasn't been easy, but we've made significant progress.
One thing that has helped me leave overspending behind is prayer. When we first started, I wasn't sure where to begin. I didn't really know what to pray about. But as I listened for God's direction, I found myself drawn to the thought that the need for satisfaction was behind the spending.
At first, I didn't feel it was the answer, and I didn't see how it related to buying things for other people or paying off a debt, because I was thinking of satisfied as meaning to "settle for" – an OK but not inspired or inspiring outcome.
As I thought and prayed more, however, I began to realize how it fit. I certainly didn't need more stuff. And although many of my purchases for others were appropriate and needed, there were also times when I would buy too much.
This idea from the Bible nails it: "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness" (Isa. 55:2).
Was I buying things to benefit or please someone else, or was it for the excitement of buying something – anything? Was my overspending an attempt to fill a void in my life? This passage and others helped me see that I was looking to the excitement of purchasing new things to make me happy. The passage from Isaiah encouraged me to look to God and feel His satisfying love and fulfillment. The next verse reads, "Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live."
I also looked up synonyms for "satisfy," and found "content" and "fulfill," and I was surprised to find "repay," "recompense," "reimburse," and "pay back." To me this meant that we would find an inspired way to take care of the credit-card bill as well.
As Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul. Higher enjoyments alone can satisfy the cravings of immortal man" (pp. 60-61).
I needed Soul's (God's) satisfying blessings. Soul's infinitely satisfying ideas are present all the time; they're not something we have to wait for or go out and get. They don't wear out and they never go out of style. They are the perfect gift from our heavenly Father-Mother God.
As I let these ideas fill my thought, I've felt truly satisfied. It's not a second best, "settle for" feeling. It's the real deal.
Soul's infinite resources also gave our family the ideas we needed to "satisfy" the scary credit-card bill. We recently paid it off in full and closed the account.
The insight that a closer relationship with God would help me overcome my spending habits has been a huge blessing. I now turn to God when I feel the need to buy something. Is it a real need or just a result of feeling dissatisfied? I feel God's love, and the emptiness is gone.
I still enjoy getting new things, but I don't derive my happiness from buying. My stronger relationship with God is much more satisfying.