Tag Archive for contentment

Love the Imperfect “Right Now”

Yesterday, I woke with the knowledge that I was already behind. Coffee mugs, ice cream bowls, and popcorn kernels graced my kitchen sink and told the tale of the late night festivities that come with a house full of older children and their friends who come alive at night when I am ready to collapse into bed.

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An untidy house can send me over the edge depending on my mindset. (Did I mention I was tired?) Plus, my to-do list was long and our little one was up three times the night before.

These are the days when I feel my lack: not enough time, skill, wisdom, wit, energy,or money to create the life I’ve crafted in my mind as “ideal” and I feel myself sinking into discouragement.

And it’s rough, dear friend, when you hang on to ideals and compare them to the life that is right in front of you right now. It’s a sure fire way to make yourself miserable.

Today, maybe you are lacking as well. Maybe your ideals and your present circumstances are nothing alike. You believe you need:

  • more understanding to be a better wife,
  • more patience to be a better mom,
  • more money to provide better meals,
  • more wisdom to relate to people better,
  • more opportunities to get ahead,
  • more organization to be efficient,
  • more free time to pursue hobbies and dreams.

But here’s the thing: the need for more is a little lie I tell myself. It stems from a heart that believes that God short-changed me. The belief of “not enough” is a poor-me mindset, living like an orphan who needs to fend for herself, when I am in fact, a daughter of the King who has promised to take care of every one of my needs.

This quest for more because of a perceived lack is not a new phenomenon. No, it’s as old as

  • Sarai who wanted a son pronto, so used Hagar to get her way
  • the Israelites who needed better food because they were fed up with manna,
  • David, who believed he should have more in the wife department so killed and committed adultery to get it,
  • Annanias and Sapphira who wanted prestige and all their money at the same time, so they told a tall tale.

The lie of “Not enough”, when mulled and meditated upon, when toyed with and hand-crafted in our thoughts and imaginations, emerges as a micro-idol that lodges into my very being like a parasite. I barely know it exists until it shows itself in the unexpected moments:

  • complaining
  • blaming God
  • sour attitude
  • depression or apathy
  • lack of submission to others
  • demanding my own way

No matter what form it takes, its core of self-reliance, discontentment, control, and self-pity must be rooted out with gospel-truth.

My lack is supposed to show me Someone who never lacks and is all-powerful. It’s meant to break the death grip I have on preserving my own life through my own resources, and pry away my fingers so that I can gently hold the hand of my loving Heavenly Father who wants to provide what He knows is best for me.

The truth is that I have everything that I need in Christ. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want/lack.” This truth has been a great simplifier for me in my Christian walk. I can be at peace knowing God always gives me what is good and is too good to withhold any good thing from me.

When dishes in the sink mount, and dust flies in the air, and I can’t seem to get ahead, I need to preach to my own heart that failings don’t define me and inadequacies don’t disqualify me from the love of God. I can love the imperfect present because I am loved in spite of my dirty dishes or toddler who tantrums. I’m cherished regardless of how put together I am in the moment because God’s love is not about me measuring up. I’m still in His care when I’m exhausted and depleted and frustrated and feel un-spiritual. I still have His resources when I’m disappointed. And you can rest, too, whatever your lack, real or perceived. God has us where we are for a reason, and He will never give us something that is not for our good. Learning to be content in this present place is where the gospel-work is being done in our hearts today, friend. Let’s let God do His work in us.

Love,

Sarah

5 Keys To Contentment

What if I told you that there was something of great value that could bring you great gain, if you would just pursue it?

Did your mind automatically think about money and getting rich quickly?

No, what I am talking about are the twin virtues of godliness with contentment. The Bible says:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Tim. 6:6

Godliness is a proper estimation of God’s ways and a willingness to walk in them. Contentment is being happy with whatever we have: our possessions, our circumstances, our limitations, our “lot in life.”

There is a rare beauty in a woman who is both godly and content.

This woman is at peace. She is not frantic or hectic, trying to make life work the way she wants it. She is unperturbed and unruffled because she knows that God is sitting on the throne of Heaven doing what is good and right and she leaves the details to Him.

Unlike the grasping, reaching, striving women all around her, she is settled. While other women are moody and complaining about all they don’t have and how they wish life was different, she is confident. She is content in her own skin, happy in her own circumstance, and able to encourage others around her by her outward trust in God.

She is at rest. She is secure in her Savior.

I know I’ve shared this before but think it is worth sharing again:

In the book, Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow, she speaks of a missionary woman she knew. This lady lived in Africa, in a mud hut. And Linda said she was one of the most content people she had ever met. She asked the missionary woman for her secret to contentment and this was her response:
1. Never allow yourself to complain about anything, not even the weather.
2. Never picture yourself in a different circumstance or someplace else.
3. Never compare your lot with the lot of another.
4. Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
5. Never dwell on tomorrow. Remember it is God’s, and not ours.

 

What do you think of this list? Pretty sound advice, huh?

Do you see discontentment as raising your fist to God in defiance of what He has given you? Are we taking good from the Lord and not the bad in life?  How do you prepare your mind for contentment on a daily basis?

Satisfied?

Depending on your perspective, it is half empty or half full.

I have been meditating on contentment for a few weeks. Scripture tells us that godliness coupled with contentment is great gain, or worth so much. I have been so blessed to know other sisters in Christ that have less than I do, but have hearts of gratitude and contentment more so than I could ever imagine. They have a secret that I am fighting to get. Contentment.

I struggle with contentment as most of us probably do. But the thing that struck me lately is that I cannot be godly and discontent. Discontentment is unhappiness with what the Lord has provided. It is Satan’s age-old lie to me that I need more, I deserve more, I must.have. more. Satan wants us to believe that we don’t have enough. That God is withholding something from us. He gave that line to Eve, and he gives it to me.

But God tells me something totally different. He says that He will never withhold any good thing from me. He supplies all of my NEEDS.( REALITY SLAP: A Pottery Barn home is not a need. An Audi is not a need. Talbot’s clothing is not a need. You get what I am saying. Americans live in the top 97th percentile of wealth in the whole world- 97 of 100 people in the world live poorer than I do. , but there is always one thing more that I want when the catalogs pour into my mailbox. Just throw them away! I digress. :) )

I was talking with another woman in ministry this past week about contentment. We discussed how easy it is to be discontent when we feel like our “wants” are good, right things (family time, unity in ministry, loving spouse.) It is easy to become self-righteous in our desire for good things. Our desires are okay, but when our desire for  those good things morph into demands, look out. You are clenching your fist at God and saying “I need this, and you are withholding it. And I will fight to get it, ” instead of letting God teach you and perfect you through an obvious trial. Assess the situation and choose to count the trial as ” joy.”  (James 1 ) God is working. He is in control.

If you are purposing to be content, even in the “bad things”, we are journeying together. Let’s purpose to be satisfied in Christ alone and knowing Him.

Some quotes on contentment to feed your soul:

I Tim. 6:8 “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

Discontent is a sin that is its own punishment and makes men torment themselves; it makes the spirit sad, the body sick, and all the enjoyments sour; it is the heaviness of the heart and the rottenness of the bones. It is a sin that is its own parent. It arises not from the condition, but from the mind. As we find Paul contented in a prison, so Ahab discontent in a palace.

Matthew Henry

“Contentment is possible only as we cultivate and maintain that attitude of accepting everything which enters our lives as coming from the Hand of Him who is too wise to err, and too loving to cause one of His children a needless tear.”
– A.W. Pink


Thankfulness: Contentment’s Kin

Still meditating on contentment, and realizing that when I am discontent (or when I grumble) I am raising my fist at God– not physically, mind you, because I know better than that. But, in my heart, it is just that. I.am.blaming.God.

“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for your life” is violated when I complain. This sin spirals quickly into envy (why did they get it?), self-pity (poor me, I want _______) and covetousness (I need to have it). Sin in the life will quickly kill all joy. A joyless Christian is SO not a good commendation of the gospel!

The remedy: Thankfulness.

Thankfulness is contentment’s kin. They always go hand in hand producing joy.

Thanksgiving recognizes that all that I have is from God’s good hand–that I am totally dependent on Him for life, breath and all. He gives me good things when, in fact, I deserve hell. To not give Him thanks must be such an assault to His character.

So today, I will be focusing on the goodness of God and will count my blessings.

Why don’t you count yours, too.

Contentment

I am learning a lot about contentment. Here are some great thoughts on the subject:

“The truly godly person is not interested in becoming rich. He possesses inner resources which furnish riches far beyond that which earth can offer.” William Hendriksen

“Contentment is one of the most distinguishing traits of the godly person because a godly person has his heart focused on God rather than on possessions or position or power.” Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Godliness ; pg. 85

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

“A godly person has found what the greedy of envious or discontented person always searches for and never finds. He ha found satisfaction and rest in his soul.” Jerry Bridges

“Discontentment it the questioning of  God’s goodness.” Jerry Bridges

Stayed or Strayed?

Saturday, Peter took me for a day trip to Historic Deerfield, MA. We had a perfect day, and I know that it was a blessing from the hand of God. The foliage was beautiful, the family was happy. It was just what my heart needed.

It had been a rough week for a number of reasons and I was struggling to be content–yes, even after a week of meditating on contentment.  I was frustrated, and  upset with myself for knowing the right things to do, but failing to do them.

I “dutifully” opened my Bible to read before bed, and this is what I read:

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trust in you.” Ps. 26:3

Needless to say that I knew right then and there that my state of unrest was due to one thing: my mind was “stayed” on other things. 

A quick  re-evaluation and refocus was all I needed to experience the peace promised to me. I needed to be “stayed.”  I needed to trust. God is God and I am His child. He always does what is good and right for me. God’s peace is “perfect peace, inward peace, outward peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace at all times, in all events. ” (Matthew Henry’s Concise)  The only variable is my mind. 

Evaluate your heart. Are you at peace? If not, it could be a “warning” that your heart and mind are fixed on something other than Christ.

Choosing Gratitude

Ingratitude is our first step away from God.

This is a statement that I have been mulling over for a few days. When I am tempted to complain or  am discontent in my heart, I am actually turning my gaze away from God and His goodness.  I am focusing on what I want and how I want it.

It looks like this:  I want it now and God is working too slowly for my liking. I want ____________, so I roll up my sleeves and go to work (manipulation and control, hence my own sovereignty) to get what I want.  I think I deserve more. More money, health, friends, influence ,respect, etc…so I complain. I head down a road of idolatry. I head towards the things that I believe will TRULY make me happy. I am not willing to rest in God’s sovereignty. 

Trusting in God’s sovereignty is the only sane outlook on life. God is God and will do as He pleases. Thankfully, He is a loving God and always does what is good for those who love him.   He always does what is right for us. Thankfully He does not give us half the things we want.

I was talking to a lovely Christian woman one day.  She has many young children, is active in ministry and is a faithful servant and asset to her church.  She teaches, organizes and meets the needs of others. She is one of those women who just seems to have it all together. One day she told me that she was frustrated because although she had led many Bible studies in the past, she had a desire to start another study and it  was seemingly going no where.  A little later on she asked for advice on scheduling a time of devotions with her own children. She was at a loss for material, and was struggling with being consistent teaching her own children.  I could related. Who hasn’t had struggles being consistent? 

After our visit, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe God was limiting her ministry opportunities outside of her home, because He wanted her to focus on her ministry inside her home– teaching her children. Other people can teach a Bible study to women, but nobody else in the world is responsible for teacher the little ones under her own roof. God appears to be limiting her. But I believe it is for the good of that woman and her little children.

It is God’s will for our lives that we live with a spirit of gratitude. 

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, concerning you.”  Thankfulness.In.All.Things.

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts…and be ye thankful.”  A thankful heart is peaceful and content.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”  A thankful heart does not mutter and grumble.

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk…but instead let there be thanksgiving.” A thankful heart has something worthwhile to say.

Check your words. They show what is going on in your heart. Are they thankful?