I have been holding off on posting this for a while. And when I say a while, I mean like since the end of September. Let’s be real, contentment is a hard thing to wrestle with when you are in the midst of what feels like insurmountable crisis.
I did a quick definition search and this is what Wikipedia returned for me:
“Contentment is hypothetically a mental or emotional state of satisfaction maybe drawn from being at ease in one's situation, body and mind. Colloquially speaking, contentment could be a state of having accepted one's situation and is a form of happiness.”
Yeah…what gets me there is that “contentment could be a state of having accepted one’s situation and is a form of happiness.” That is a hard dose not truth to swallow.
Here’s the deal, being content is a choice. I don’t care if you are a Christ believer or not, that is just a truth…we have a choice to be content/happy, no matter what our circumstances. I don’t think that means you don’t have sad days, mad moments, grief and despair sometimes (believe me, I have many of all of those, sometimes all in the span of an hour!). But it does mean we choose not to continually dwell on the fact that we may not be where we want to be (physically or emotionally), and we focus on The One who has all things under control.
I was at a meeting last night and most of us are struggling with not knowing “what the story is about”, or how it’s going to end. We each shared our hearts and struggles in the areas of our heart hurt, prayed for one another and moved on with our evening. This morning the Shauna Niequist quote above popped into my IG stream.
Perfect. Ok Lord, I am listening.
Then our youth pastor put his Lent challenge out there…listening to hymns only during the Lenten season (you might think that would be super easy, but it does have some challenges). Hey, if you want to stretch your heart and get a new perspective on your place in the world, and the great love God has for you, listen to hymn and study the history behind them, and the Scripture they are founded on. Good stuff, deep stuff…stuff to make you face your discontent spirit (and the choice you have to be happy.). At any rate, he shared his playlist (awesome stuff!) and the first hymn to play was one of my top 5 favorites, Come Thou Fount.
Ok Lord, I really am listening.
Here’s my concern, if you will…I don’t want to miss what is being provided to me in the here & now because I keep looking across the waters to the shore and where I wish I might be. My happiness isn’t “over there”, it is right here. Yes, life has been hard…but God has been oh so good. How could I not choose happiness if I believe that He is in control?
Isaiah 26:3 – “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."
I know many people who are unhappy right now. It hurts my heart. I hear, “if only I had a different job”, “if only we had more money/a different house/a new car”, “if only we lived somewhere else.” Not that any of those are bad in and of themselves, but if we can’t be happy in what we have been blessed with already, why would we assume that more, or different, would make us any happier?
I don’t want to treat God like my happiness vending machine…”if you will do this for us” or “I just need a sign that it’s going to change and then I will be happy.” Nope…I tried to play that game back in the fall and all it got me was frustrated. Not at God, at me…because I know better. I chalk it up to desperate times/desperate measures – but still not an excuse.
I hear you, Lord…you are in control.
“Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, let me stand…”
And so, what does being content and happy look like to you? If you are not happy, what is it that you think will make you happy (the deep happy, not the cotton candy-at-the-fair happy) , and why?
During the Lenten season we have the perfect time for reflection and sacrifice…maybe we take the time to sacrifice continually looking to ‘yonder shores’ and find joy in the boat, on the journey. (Oh, & listen to more hymns!)