I don’t know about you, but I struggle with being content.
It seems like everywhere I turn there is something or someone telling me that what I have, what I do, even who I am is not enough. It stinks.
Staying at home with my brood has kind of lent itself to me developing a problem with envy as well. I know it is a fantastic and wonderful privilege to be able to stay home, but I will be the first to tell you that as much as I see it a blessing, I really struggle with the fact that in choosing to stay home I also chose to put all my hopes and dreams on hold for an extended period of time. And with each child we were blessed with, my aspirations were put on the back burner for a bit longer.
So I’ve found myself becoming restless. There are desires in my heart that keep surfacing and saying, “Pay attention to me!” They’re really pushy too. I find myself folding the laundry or re-cleaning the kids’ rooms and all of a sudden I hear, “What are you going to do to feed me? You know you’re hungry to do more than just THIS.”
Have you ever heard that voice?
Last winter I attended a women’s conference with a well-known speaker who has a fantastic gift of encouraging women. At this conference she addressed this restless feeling so many of us young-ish women wrestle with on a day-to-day basis. She told us that God HAS gifted us and that His plan for us is so good. She shared her story, which was super cool and inspiring and gave all of us hope for more than just the hum drum of our day-to-day lives. It was awesome. And terrible.
We all DO have gifts we’ve been given to glorify God with, but they aren’t all going to look the same as hers or anyone else’s. Most of us will not become well-known public figures and authors or artists or whatever. And while there is that hunger to do more than “just motherhood”, I’m forced to ask myself, “What is so wrong with ‘this’?” What is so wrong with me raising my kids day in and day out? Why am I working so hard to just get through it so I can do something else?
It’s really weird, trying to find that healthy balance of dreaming for the future and enjoying the present. Both are important. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming. I should have dreams and hopes and goals for my future. There is also absolutely nothing wrong with right now, whatever is going on. Both are good.
And yet I really wrestle with “today”. I long for tomorrow, even though I have no idea what it holds.
So for these last several months I’ve been busy stewing and grappling with knowing what I *should* be doing and what I’d *rather* be doing. And as a result I’ve been missing what is actually happening and what God has called me to today. I need to remind myself just who I am right now. I am His daughter. I am a wife to a wonderful man and mother to 5 beloved and messy children. I am a friend and a housecleaner a butt-wiper, a nurse, a chef, a chauffeur, a teacher, a cheerleader, an artist, a party planner, a voice actor (just ask my kids: best storyteller EVER), a singer, and so many other things that I am and do day in and day out.
And do you know what?God has gifted me with these special, ordinary days.
It’s up to me to choose how I respond to them.
When I hear “Mama, pick me up!” for the 98th time in 6 hours I can choose to respond with kisses or complaints.
When I hear yet another request for a snack, I can choose to answer with a smile or resentment.
When I walk into yet another toy-filled room I can choose to grow bitter or with be thankful; we have more than enough.
I don’t want to be so focused on what the future *might* hold that I miss what is in today. I want to make today the best today ever. It all depends on my heart attitude. Contentment is my choice. Even more so, contentment does not depend on my circumstances.
How many times have I said, “If only I… then I would…” only to be disappointed when the “if only” part came to fruition?
I’ve never been permanently satisfied by anything I’ve ever done or anything anyone’s done for me. The apostle Paul says it well to his “son” Timothy:
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
–1 Timothy 6:6-11
Unless my pursuits lead to godliness, they are in vain.
“True contentment only comes from making godliness my priority and eternity my perspective.” –Stephen J. Cole
Maybe that’s my problem. Godliness, while A priority hasn’t been THE priority. I have. And my perspective has definitely not been eternal; more like 5-7 years down the line. I’ve craved personal satisfaction based on what I can do for myself. But no matter what I do, it will never be enough. Ever.
It’s easy to give in to my cravings for more and feed my discontent, but it is hard to go against my natural grain and choose Him rather than me. It’s something that takes practice and self-discipline. But like Paul wrote to the Galatians so many years ago,
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want.”
My flesh naturally desires the opposite of what God desires for me. I know the good I’m supposed to do and I struggle with doing it.
But God doesn’t just leave us hanging out to dry, up to our own devices. He offers some pretty wise advice about what we can do to get on the right track. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18,
“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Give thanks. Now. In everything. No matter what. There is something to be thankful for. When I take my eyes off what I want and instead thank God for what I have, where I am, what I’m doing, or whatever else, I am taking my eyes off of me and focusing instead on HIM. I am giving Him the attention He deserves. I can see how He is blessing me, my family, my friends, even strangers in the midst of our ordinary. Hallelujah.
I want that. I want Him. I have tasted and seen that He is good but often forget. When I desire more from this life I tend to look out, not up. How much trouble would I avoid if I just remembered to seek Him first?! He is with me always, to the end of the age… and in today… even when I’m discontent. He is there waiting for me to remember. I remember now. He is the special in my ordinary, and I’ll find Him whenever I look for Him. So will you.
“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Will you join me in this day-to-day journey of finding The special in the ordinary? I can use all the encouragement I can get!