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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Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart Week 1 Re-cap

college girls

Drawing The Line…Do Not Pass Go…How Far Is TOO Far?…

Boundaries will make or break any relationship. Where you end and others begin is not only something you should define for yourself, but should also be defined in such a way that you are capable and confident to communicate to others. People (even the ones you think are the closest or you would expect to respect you) will challenge and push your boundaries at any given moment. The enemy will prey on your inability to draw those lines for his gain in his efforts to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.)

If you can identify with any of the following statements, you need help setting boundaries.

“I seem to have the hardest time saying no to people I’m in “love” with.”

“When he/she is in a bad mood, I get in a bad mood too. It just ruins my whole day.”

“I’ve noticed that my boyfriends always take advantage of me. I must be picking the wrong guys.”

“I know what’s best for him/her, and I’m determined to change him/her if it’s the last thing I do.”

If you really evaluate each of these statements, you’ll notice they each deal with the matter of responsibility. A boundary means that each person takes responsibility for himself. A boundary problem is a problem of you taking either too much responsibility for someone else, or not enough responsibility for yourself.

Setting clear boundaries helps you know for what you should take responsibility, and helps others know how better to relate to you.

Relational Boundaries

Boundaries define who you are, and they reinforce the idea that you are separate and distinct from others. They describe what you think and feel, as well as what you are willing to do. They define your preferences. They inform you as to where you END and others BEGIN.

Drawing the Lines

 The short answer for how to draw lines would be to let your yes be yes, and let your no be no.  (Matthew 5:37 But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yesor ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.) Here are a few guidelines to keep you grounded and directed in setting boundaries.

  • Your Body Belongs To You

Define what your limits are before you even walk out the door. When you are being pursued, (and if the man in question isn’t pursuing you but you’re thinking you need boundaries in your “relationship” take a step to splitsville because he doesn’t even deserve to know the boundaries if he isn’t investing in you) these boundaries must be defined for yourself before entering a serious relationship. Once you have shared your boundaries (expectations) with a man, you have an immediate and first step in the culling process. If he oversteps the bounds, he has little respect for you. Therefore, you have an immediate strike against him and a red flag. It’s up to you and your integrity to walk away.

If you don’t set your boundaries before there is a need to make a decision, then you won’t stick to them.

You’ve been in a situation where you continually lost a little more and a little more ground in a relationship, whether it’s dating or another personal relationship. But here, we’ll use an example of sexual boundaries with reference to “your body belongs to you”. Most people don’t lose their boundaries overnight. You lose boundaries slowly and sacrifice more and more as you go. Set your boundaries, sexually, before the Brain Relocation Phenomenon takes place. That’s where you begin to reason with your genitals instead of your brain. We will talk more about sex later.

  • Your Emotions Belong to You

Emotions are common to all people. They come and go. They can seem unpredictable and uncontrollable. However, we are each still responsible for our emotions and how we express them. You must know where your emotions end and others’ begin.

Some allow their partner’s to intrude on their lives in such a way that they are actually controlling someone’s emotions. While others do the opposite, stepping in and feeling responsible for their partner. Here are some keys for setting EMOTIONAL BOUNDARIES::

Communicate how you feel to your partner. The ability and willingness to communicate how you feel is probably the single most important factor in promoting intimacy within your relationship. Use “I feel” statements. Don’t do this on a first date, this is direction for relationships moving in a serious direction.

Own your feelings and be able to separate them from your partner’s. If you find that your emotions are sometimes dictated by your partner’s actions or emotions, you are too emotionally connected. So, you are allowing your partner’s emotional atmosphere to determine whether or not you’re going to be in a good/bad mood. Don’t be an emotional chameleon.

  • Your thoughts belong to you.

No one can read your mind. (1 Corinthians 2:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.) Mental boundaries force you to take ownership of your thoughts, and not expect others to read your mind. Proverbs 23:7 “As he thinks in his heart, so he is”. You are responsible to keep your mind clean and uncluttered. (Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.) If your thoughts are condemning or self-defeating prophecies, it is your responsibility to reign that it, not someone else’s job as you meta message and bait them to lift you up. (Romans 8:1 [ Life Through the Spirit ] Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,) Learning how to take control of your thoughts and how to express them will usher you into successful and healthy relationships.

  • Your actions belong to you.

One of the most foolish things we try to do in relationships is change the other person. You will end up changing yourself and being miserable if your goal and focus is to change someone else. Your efforts to change him/her will only bring frustration and misery to yourself. If you don’t like what you see, then move on and continue to be submissive to the Spirit in your own growth all the while building relationships with others. The right friend/boyfriend will come. Example of sacrificing self, trying to change others.

Breaking UP

It’s not a question of “if” one of the parties will be tempted to contact the other, it’s a matter of when. Everyone likes the familiarity and closeness of talking to and spending time with someone who knows you on a more intimate level. The initiator should be chastised the most, but the one who responds gets just as much criticism. It is critical you set up boundaries after a break up for everyone involved.  Think Band-Aid. If you don’t, you’re just extending the pain and adding deeper wounds instead of working towards healing. Pain (and especially immediate, quick pain) brings clarity and clarity brings closure.  Long-lasting pain is a guarantee when you think you can still be friends or hope the dumper will change his/her mind, or sinfully scamming some “I need a quick fix” intimacy off the ditched.

Four LIES about Boundaries

  • Lie #1 Boundaries are Walls

Walls keep people out and isolate. Drawing lines lets other in but with certain parameters for your safety. This actually enhances communication and develops intimacy because boundaries are something very personal and meaningful. When they’re shared and respected, a closeness is developed and built upon in order to further relationship.

  • Lie #2 Boundaries are Selfish

Selfish means being about self. (Philippians 2:2-4 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.) On the contrary, setting boundaries is NOT selfish. It forces you to take responsibility for yourself and your own needs, but doesn’t mean you ignore others’ needs. You serve better when you’re aware of your own boundaries and encounter equally appropriate interaction with others.

  • Lie #3 Boundaries are Controlling and Manipulative

Fearless line drawing liberates people from control and manipulation. Assert your boundaries in relationships, and you can let go of the need to control or the insecurity that lets you be controlled.

  • Lie #4 Boundaries are Insensitive and Rude

We do have an effect on others, and by drawing boundaries, we become even more aware of human nature and our effects on each other. However, we cannot take responsibility for how others feel. That’s why you make boundaries! You keep yourself protected from the temptation (for some) to tip toe around others. If you are breaking a major boundary by not breaking up with someone and know it would be the best, you’re actually being insensitive. You must be sensitive, and remember you aren’t responsible for their emotions. Not breaking up is keeping them moving on and wasting both of your lives.

 

adapted from:

“The Ten Commandments of Dating” “Passion and Purity” and of course, Scripture