How I Learned to be Content

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My Problem

In my haste to satisfy the pride of life, I have diligently fed my flesh by trying to be one step ahead of my season. What I found, instead of joy & contentment, was feelings of failure, frustration, unmet/unrealistic expectations, & a restless spirit that settled so deep in my heart I couldn’t see my way out for trying to fix the way I was approaching life.

The gentle nudge I started to hear echoed Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

I quickly clung to my abilities, meek as they are, and hoped to do better. I can be steadfast, I thought. I can work on a pure heart.



What I Didn’t Do

As I didn’t do much struggling or wrestling (that would have required actual effort, and unfortunately, I trying to just do better weren’t going to work for me), I settled with trying to rest on the areas of my life that seemed natural. Once I was working out of my strengths, and even comforts, I could hear the whispers that could only be heard in a stillness.

I cannot, after He has clearly spoken to me about how my outset is not working, continue to work so fervently to be a step ahead of where I am in my life as a woman, wife, mom, or any other aspect of my roles.

Then it presented itself like a blooming plant that is emerging from the blossom that has rested, filled with nutrients and all the perfect setting up for a beautiful, bountiful expression of nature. Contentment. I knew the minute my soul was filled with this, alluring to some, actual manifestation of the Spirit.

It’s not an emotion. It’s not a feeling. It is the culmination of hope, mercy, grace, and trust.

I began thinking “this is so good…I need to write this down.” That pride of life crept back in and then I exclaimed in my heart “this IS good, thank you LORD for getting my soul to a place of understanding, rest, movement, and finally the acquisition of contentment.

Finally, A Looking Glass

It began with anxiety and panic that I wanted so desperately to be ahead of my season, onto the next step, planned/prepared/ready, and without a shred of help from others. The deep sorrow I felt after not feeling prepared and ready when a new phase of discipline was necessary in the heart of one of my children, left me feeling the way I mentioned in the introduction. The trepidation was almost more than my person could handle.

With the newfound contentment, I could almost hear “this is the next step…look at this Scripture….look how God led His people here….look at Paul’s admonishment here….who are you right here…..what the goal for this season…..what is hard right now in your heart….” questions that I haven’t left lurking like I used to when I thought I could move forward and fix the questions with my approach instead of listening to His guidance.

Moving Forward in Understanding

The joy and contentment found in resting in His guidance for where I am now, ABSOLUTELY does prepare me for the NEXT season.

If I am not walking so closely with His guidance, direction, hope, and correction right now, then I will surely suffer more when His planned suffering/trials/chastisement enters because I haven’t absorbed the gentle preparation He was providing all along.

The discipline of the Lord is love. An example from my life would be when He tells me to slow down. Before, I would have rebuked that thought that I don’t have time to slow down because I need to be ahead of my children’s needs (discipline, health, homeschool, etc) or that I need to be working diligently throughout the day to make sure we are ready for dad to get home to a peaceful place (which never happened when I was pushing out the Spirit’s prompting and pushing hard at home). The result of my efforts was stress, anxiety, discontment, and anger. Meeting the words “slow down” with obedience, speaking gently to those around me, opening my heart to the needs of others, always works in great motion towards whatever my future holds.

The sufferings and trials are not big and small in His divine wisdom. They are specific to the days ordained of OUR individual lives and He is faithful and just to give us all of Himself to walk through them.

I learned to be content, by recognizing His ability. That ties up so much in my heart that is lacking trust, faith, hope, and an acknowledgement that He’s in control.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

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What is vulnerable?

It’s telling you that I’ve had a day full of “I wish I was……” insert anything from prettier to a better cook. This thought life is actually very uncharacteristic of me.

I’m not the most confident person in the world, but The Lord dealt very seriously, albeit graciously, with me concerning my self-image and self-condemnation a few years ago. It has been a point of interest for my heart & a place I speak Truth to myself about on a regular basis.

So for this day of useless comparison and self-loathing to be battering me, I felt a little caught off guard. Every picture I saw contained someone with bold fashion statements, risk-taking make-up, toned physique, steel like nerves with their children…..all the qualities I felt were supremely insufficient in my existence.

Then I remembered my post on Facebook yesterday.

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I let him in…he stole from me. I felt betrayed. Then I remembered that’s his nature. I’ve never trusted the enemy so there was nothing to betray. I let down the guard. I wasn’t vigilant with my heart or my thoughts today.

Thankfully, The Lord empowered my weak mind and heart to see what today held for me in terms of my need for a Savior.

Just like that::I repented & forgiveness separated me from the sin that had entangled me for a moment.

the one word that sums up all i’ve learned about myself when i became a mommy

 

it’s so painful to my flesh to say it.

selfish.

it’s painful to my flesh for 2 reasons.

1. because i’m embarrassed i didn’t learn how selfish i was when i got married…it took having a child for me to realize that i’m selfish.

2. because i have a root sin of pride and to realize, confess, & grow beyond this selfishness means i’m not perfect.

1 John 2:16

King James Version (KJV)

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

when i have on the filter of Truth, i can see my selfishness for what it is (sin) & press into Christ’s redeeming forgiveness. when my heart is bent towards asking God to produce based on the good intentions, motivations, & desires He has put within me to steward the lives of my children, i am outside of my flesh & directed towards the idea of redemption.

yes we are all selfish. but praise the Lord of all Heaven and Earth that He is in the great and glorious business of Redeeming.

Ephesians 5 Amplified Version

13 But when anything is exposed and reproved by the light, it is made visible and clear; and where everything is visible and clear there is light.

14 Therefore He says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine (make day dawn) upon you and give you light.

15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),

16 Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.

so there is no condemnation for the temptation to be selfish towards my husband or children. but an ever present reminder of what success really is in the realm of home. success in the Spirit is waking up each morning and asking of the Lord

Psalm 139 New Living Translation

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

so that when our children will not give us a break, they spill milk, have a potty accident, pull their clothes out of their drawers, wake up 3 times each in the middle of the night, scream and run away when discipline is knocking on the door of their hearts……….or when our spouse forgot to do something important for us, forgets something special, makes a decision we don’t agree with, or is having a rough day and their attitude effects us–we can confess we have selfish hearts that want to scream or pout, but then repent and remember Lord’s ability to lead us in the way everlasting.

He puts His Spirit within us to walk and guide us in the trenches. yes, even the trenches of our selfishness. our hearts are deceitful (Joshua 1:9), but He is grace. He forgives. He gives. He extends mercy and grace.

He knows our hearts. our very fragile, worn out, over-extended, but very very very full hearts. the heart that beats harder and faster during the hard days. the heart that explodes at night when our littles snuggle up on our chest while we read. the heart that grows more full as our children begin to speak Truth themselves and model all that we’ve spoken about Jesus. and as we hear and watch our sweet babes talk about Christ, He is sweetly beckoning us as we watch the little seeds we’ve planted begin to be harvested by Him.

it’s so hard during the drag of day and sometimes night to remember that we are living out a calling. a calling to love our husband and children well. it is weary sometimes when we don’t know what “well” is and we’ve lost track of our purpose. but He says we can call on Him. so my prayer for myself and other mommas is that we reevaluate what it means for us (as individuals, not as compared to other mommies) to love our husband and our children well. we are all gifted, interested, and experienced in different ways. press into Him with your deepest and grandest expectation that He will speak directly to your heart about how you can rest in who He has made you and love your family well with how He has equipped you. no more trying harder. no more being better. no more rules and regulations. just asking, exploring, and living out who you already are and loving with the tools and resources He has already provided.

just ask Him. and then abandon your own idea of what the pressure tells you it should look like for you to be a mom and wife and, instead, be the mom and wife He’s already equipped you to be with a whole heart full of expectation. sometimes your greatest equipping and resources come from your children and your spouse. be sensitive to the Spirit.

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today’s demands teach tomorrow’s grace

the day is nearing the end. the pressure to meet the demands is over. did you meet them? what is success?

define success for yourself so you know your own expectations for yourself. evaluate them. make yourself some benchmarks. no one hits their success of huge goals immediately. it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

in fact, that’s what usually keeps me from making goals. or making attempts at my own expectations. i have failed before. i have hit the evening (it seems every day) with a miserable gut check that i accomplished NOTHING i set out to complete that day.

the reality? i didn’t set out to complete anything. i had a mental to do list. and a child woke up too early. he demanded specific items for breakfast. said items ended up all over my sheets. youngest child wakes up screaming, too. they both have pungent diapers and soaked clothes. now to more food and bottles and cups full of milk. toys spread everywhere. fingers touching dangerous things. tiny bodies climbing to high places that cause immediate danger and panic. they’re quiet now……interrupt productivity to find the children. toys everywhere. one wants to paint. can i watch a show? let’s have a snack! momma we miss dadda. why are you screaming? snack? milk? diaper? align the cosmos?!?! oh it’s lunch. what are we having (that would have been on my mental to do list—meal planning, maybe at naptime). oh you don’t want to eat anything on your plate? out of the 7 options i put on there? hm. time for nap. no one wants to take a nap? momma does! can we trade?! WHEW. youngest is down without a hitch. spanking. screaming. gnashing of teeth. compromise. promise. spanking. screaming. gnashing of teeth. no sleep today. no nap=nothing accomplished for momma. every one up. snacks. milk. more milk. they drink milk all day. could i be a dairy farmer? nope. i’d never make it. thought detour. clean up kitchen. get ready to start dinner. MASS HYSTERIA AND EVERYONE LOSES THEIR MINDS. momma is going to cook dinner? act like a crazed maniac! because….she doesn’t cook dinner ALMOST every night??! i mean, what a shock! cooking to the music of screaming, yelling, fit throwing, ……. DADDA IS HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we’re the happiest boys alive! oh? that screaming? we just wanted to see how many decibels she could take! and dinner. bath. clean up rooms. bed.

the end of the day. i survived. but i did i thrive? was there joy emitted? today’s demands have made me aware that it’s night’s end and i must accept the grace for the moments that were not beautiful and walk into tomorrow with grace for the moments that will be challenging.

for where i felt like a failure today, i can only make a goal for how to approach that situation again and what it would look like to be a success. i was never a failure. feelings are NOT Truth.

progress, not perfection is the strategy with which i’ll run this marathon.

i want my husband and children to see grace. lived and offered. not the cranky, i’m short tempered with the world because of my own shortcomings, attitude i’ve exhibited lately. they don’t need to be effected with emotions for where i THINK i’ve failed, they need to have me fully present in my calling as a wife and a mom and the TRUTH of what that calling is—that’s where i am seeking my identity. not the 10 absolute best aspects of 10 people that i expect myself to be all wrapped up in one individual.

marathon. not sprint.

Defintions Matter

I have seen so many posts lately on Facebook that give the details to life, or so they seem. It is words of “wisdom” or “how to do it right”.

I became convicted after seeing a post because I thought to myself, I wonder if I post in a way that seems arrogant? So, I took a look back at my posts. It was a neat time of reflecting, because what I saw what a definition of my self. I saw what is most important to me (or who is most important to me), where my focus is, and what motivates my spirit. I saw some things I didn’t like or that I thought weren’t pertinent to sharing socially. So I was able to sift through and decide on a purpose for my social media connections.

I was confident in my social media self because it is a real reflection of who I am and the Lord has done a unique work in me during the past 5 years to give me freedom and security in myself. All people need and want that. I’m a work progress, everyone is, and it’s ok. It’s ok to be a work in progress as long as we’re working and progressing.

As I was reading these posts, my concern came from whether our hearts seek to admonish and encourage…or condemn. Sometimes when I read someone’s “wisdom” it comes across as condemnation. Mainly because it appears as a command and order, rather than a personal conviction of their work in progress. The world and the enemy do their best, and sometimes rather successfully, to condemn us. I doubt we need an acquaintance on facebook to do much more. But when we share, out of our own walk, experience, and working in progress, others are encouraged and admonished. They see our love that is Truth spoken through our work in progress.

Encourage::to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence

Admonish::to caution, advise, or counsel against something.

Condemn::to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; indicate strong disapproval of; censure.

This does not go without saying, we cannot effect how someone reacts or responds to our words. But we can be diligent to share the truth in love without condemning. And when we have something to say, we say it to the individual (Matthew 18) and they know we are seeking to love them and hold them accountable (while we, ourselves, are vulnerable to be held accountable, also).

On the contrary to these thoughts, I have been so edified by watching others via social media. Other moms, who have more kiddos than I, walking faithfully through motherhood and boldly walking into new seasons with their children that I have yet to trod. Other marriages as they navigate what it is to walk in biblical healthy marriages. Our college students as they maneuver a much more difficult society than when I was in college and working and seeking the Lord. It’s motivating to watch, via social media, others who are close and far away, as they show their work in progress and do difficult things and make hard decisions, all the while sharing with all of their “friends” on facebook what life looks like for them. Being a good steward involves all of our lives. Even social media. Are we stewarding our opportunity to be real, yet graceful, on social media?

We have more today than ever to be responsible for, and this more includes social media. I’m convicted of the ways I let it steal life from me, yet motivated to use it as a tool to connect and share using my gifts. Everything is a conduit for sharing the gospel, will I press into that opportunity even with social media?