Thursday, June 11, 2015

Contentment

The only thing that remains of
Old Crow Wing Village.
I've been contemplating a word lately, and its meaning. 

Content: satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.

Wow. Not wanting more or anything else. How often can we say: "I'm content," or "I'm satisfied with who I am and what I have?"

There have been seasons of contentment in my life. Even now, I can say I'm content with some things, but not with others.

As a young woman, I longed to be married and begin my life. After I was married, I longed to be done with college (we married during our college years). After college, I longed to buy a house. After buying a house, I longed to have a baby. After having a set of twins, I longed for them to be older and more independent. Now that my children are growing older, I long to hold on to their childhoods.

As a writer, I longed to finish my first novel. After I finished it, I longed to have an agent. After finding an agent, I longed to have a contract. After signing a contract, I long to have more.

In each season, I seek to be content. Truly, I do. But it's not easy. What is easy is looking at other people and fighting envy and impatience.

Today, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw three new covers for three of my author friends. And, I'll admit, I had to fight envy. I'm thrilled beyond words that my friends are achieving their dreams, but a niggle of jealousy rose up in my heart and I had to turn off the computer before I let it blow up into a pity party.

I'm disgusted with this discontentment, because I've been blessed beyond measure. My cup runneth over. Above I stated all the things I longed for and God gave to me. Everything my heart has desired, He has granted.

So why the discontentment? Why the longing for more?

I think there is a two-part answer to my questions. First, we live in a fallen world, and we are a fallen people. Didn't Eve long to be like God? Wasn't that why she ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Clearly, this was Lucifer's problem, as well. He wanted to be greater than God. He was the one who lured Eve into disobedience. Is it safe to say the enemy of our souls continues to whisper this desire into our hearts? The desire to be more and to have more? To strive and be envious and without peace? These feelings leave us weak and defenseless. A perfect target for the enemy to attack. I think this is a struggle for all humans, and it's yet another reason we need Christ.

I think the other part of this longing is deeper still, and speaks to our eternal longing. There is a part of our souls that long for the Court of the Lord. We long to see His face and to be cradled in His arms. We long for our eternal homes. And we long to be loved. I think sometimes our discontentment can be born of our longing for Christ, yet we so often try to fill the longing with temporal, earthly things.

Paul speaks to discontentment in the Book of Philippians, chapter 4, verses 12 and 13. "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

As I look at my discontentment, and I see others reaching milestones I long to reach, I recall a promise: I can do all this through him who gives me strength. This was Paul's secret to contentment.

Christ is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Strength. All I need to remember is that I can do anything, including wait, when I lean on Him. He has perfect timing for everything and for everyone. I need not be discontent, because He is in complete control. When I trust Him, I don't feel envy, strife, or loss of peace. I am strong and no longer a target for the enemy. I am thankful for what He's already given me.

If I've learned anything, it's that as soon as I gain something, I will start reaching and longing for something more. That's part of the human experience. We have goals, dreams, and ambitions. But I must rely on the One who brings everything to pass. Then, and only then, will I learn how to be content, whatever the situation.

What about you? Do you struggle with discontent? Have you learned Paul's secret to being content, whatever the situation? What areas do you struggle with discontent? What areas of your life are you content?

11 comments:

  1. Gabrielle, very thoughtful. Thank you for sharing your heart and your struggle. So well stated. And yes, of course, I can relate.

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    1. Thanks, Anne. I think this is something many people struggle with. I wish I could say with confidence what Paul said, but I'm still learning. The older I get, the more content I become, but I have a long way to go.

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  2. Hello Gabe! Thank you for sharing this thought provoking post. I needed the reminder to keep my eyes on Him.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by to visit today, Caryl. I'm happy my musings were a good reminder to you.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your heart, Gabrielle. It's just one of the many things on the list we have to be on guard against. I don't know why, but I get this image in my mind of someone sitting criss-cross applesauce and smiling ... content. :)

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    1. I love that image, Shelli. That total contentment. After I wrote this post, I was lying in bed last night examining my heart and where I'm at with feelings of content/discontent, and I'm happy to say I'm in a good place. Every once in a while the little green monster wants to rear its ugly head, but I'm reminded of Paul's words, and I focus on Christ being all I need. It isn't always easy, but it's oh, so much more peaceful. :)

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  4. A lovely post that coincides with the one on BooksandSuch today. It's easy to make those comparisons to other people, but it can be so destructive to our contentment, can't it? I find I have to be deliberate about my gratitude when I start feeling discontent. I need to get the focus off circumstances I can't control and concentrate on something other than me. :)

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    1. I haven't read the Books & Such blog today. I'll have to go take a peek. It's so terribly easy to compare, but it's much harder to be thankful and praise God for all we have. I think that's why the Psalmist said we are to offer a sacrifice of praise. But it is so much better for our peace and overall well-being. Contentment. I can't say it or think it without sighing just a bit. It's a good thing.

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  5. Thanks for that honest post, Gabrielle. I think you are correct on both parts of your answer for the cause of discontentment. Satan wants nothing more than to occupy our minds with emotions such as discontentment - a vice to take our minds off God. I agree that it is possible to use temporal, earthy things in an attempt to satisfy feelings of longing for the Court of the Lord.

    I relate to your comment that you are becoming more content as you age - a lot can be said in favor of maturity, both mentally and spiritually. Thinking back, there seemed to be so many more pressures and "things" to want and need when I was young and raising my children - they all seemed to be more important at the time. The older I become, and the more my health declines - the more I realize how really blessed I am; life's trials have helped me appreciate the beauty/enjoyment of life's "little" things and the unimportance of so many others. The truly important things are God, family, health, godly friends, etc. - I find that the more I praise and thank Him for the "little" things, the more content I am and the closer I feel to Him.

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  6. Circumstances - illness and constant pain which has gotten a lot worse in the past two days, along with almost certain death - they should make me discontented, but they don't. It just is what it is, and I start from where I am. Makes it a lot easier to choose contentment.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2015/06/your-dying-spouse-17-new-world-five.html

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  7. You are spot on with this article, Thank you for the reminder!

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