“If only…”, “what if…”, “I’d be happy…”, “I’ve got to….”, “Life would be better…”
Any of those phrases sound familiar?
I catch myself and correct my attitude quicker, now. But, I’ve experienced seasons, when those thoughts haunted me, over and over. I remember praying through tears, thinking I knew best; unhappy with my present situation. “Please God, I need this. I need to…, if You would…”
I am shocked I possessed the audacity to tell God His provisions were insufficient. I am deeply embarrassed and shameful, that I would requisition my Holy, Loving, All-Sufficient God that way. In essence, I said, “You haven’t met my needs.” As if… I was wiser than He.
I’ve lived in the same town; most of my life. So many precious sister/friends moved away. With each one, my heart broke from the separation and ultimate change. At one point, starting over in new fresh places, “honeymoons”, and perceived “better things”, began to consume my thoughts and linger in my heart, becoming romanticized.
Discontentment stirred inside me.
What I Did
When you live somewhere so long, many difficult things need dealt with; no escaping or running. I perceived life to be “easier” somewhere else. So, I launched an all-out-affront, by praying to God. I mean pleading with God… okay, begging!! Flat-out begging complete with tears, wailing and gnashing of teeth! Dead serious! God said, You could ask anything, right?
I played the comparison game, deciding another place might suit “us” better: throwing in the old, “We would thrive if…, For the good of my family…” (like a caped heroine, using an acceptable platitude to fuel my passion). A change of venue would benefit the whole family, I convinced myself.
All of this I kept inside, between me and God. (The only smart thing I did.)
Guess What Happened?
As I fed my thoughts with the idea of relocating, discontentment grew.
The real problem came when we didn’t move, with no prospects on the horizon.
What next? Live in this inner turmoil for the rest of my days? Beg, plead more? Emotional weariness set-in; nothing changed.
I fought my way to contentment.
The word “fight” is accurate. I fought an emotional, spiritual battle to learn to be content where God put me. My faith rested in God: I needed to trust His wisdom for me.
I told God, “If You will not move us, You need to change my heart.”
I prayed that in tears, too!
I tried to stop the comparison game. Truth is, not all my friends who moved, saw “greener pastures”. The problems of life are everywhere. Search the globe: you’ll not find one perfect place to live. Sometimes, you find the same old problems, sometimes problems are swapped, but there are still problems.
Paul Teaches Contentment
Jesus’ disciple Paul, taught mankind a lot about contentment. If you know little about Paul’s life, read 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 for the full list of hardships he endured. The abuses he lived through are unbelievable. Yet, he is our expert on contentment. He truly had many situations to test his resolve, which make his words even more poignant.
“ …. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance.”
The third word in this phrase gives so much hope… LEARNED!
Contentment is not automatic, acquired, gifted, nor expected of the inexperienced. Its a learned response. We can make mistakes and try again. We don’t have the pressure of reacting to every situation, perfectly. Whew! That, my friend, is freeing!
Paul says contentment is achievable, wherever you find yourself. But, it will be a learning process to master it! Paul is speaking to us from a prison cell in Rome: perfectly content. He is encouraging us to maturity, by assuring us, we can do it. Strive for it.
The result of discontent is a lack of joy, misery, unhappiness, bitterness, etc.
Who wants to live like that? It’s your choice.
Finding contentment means finding joy. Joy makes life sweeter and you better! It means allowing God to be in control and living out your best life, where He has placed you and with the provisions He’s provided!
Fight for contentment! It’s worth the fight!
You’ll be the winner!
Contentment makes me better,
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