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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so you think this is hard.

many of our college students, friends, family, and even ourselves are going through some really hard things.

just today….

i visited with a friend who just said good-bye to their Ethiopian daughter they will never bring home. you can read their story HERE.

a couple from our church lost their sweet twin boys. you can read their story HERE.

my husband’s journey. you can read that HERE.

my most recent trial(s). you can read that HERE.

i received a text from someone on the verge of divorce. their last ditch effort is a conversation tonight after their kids are in bed.

a girl lost her grandmother last night and she’s grieving while comforting her mother.

various and serious medical issues for 3 men in our family.

a girl being inconvenienced by check fraud. and violated.

hospital visits and death in our family over the past 3 months.

fostering and adopting families on journeys with only unknowns, nothing predictable, and the emotional roller coaster it is

just today i prayed over all of these. these people. these journeys. these seasons. these questions.

as i was praying, the Lord pricked my heart. He reminded me of a situation…..a circumstance…….a heartache…….a shift in my journey…..a turn i wasn’t expecting…….a decision that seemed abnormal for me……….

while He flooded my memory and heart with these, i realized they were all memories NOW. at the time of their dramatic descent on my rather “perfect” (rose colored glasses are deceiving, eh?) life, these were not memories, but very real interruptions. they brought me to my knees. sanctified me. sanded and sifted in very painful, real ways. i had no choice but to walk through these moments. to experience them. to hurt through them. to ache.

when we’re faced with the tragic, aching, seemingly unfathomable….we have no choice but to walk through. He brought us to it. the moments i’m talking about are the ones we didn’t choose. we didn’t create. the deaths. the steps of obedience that seem painful. the miscarriages. the end of a dream for adoption or fostering. the call of a minister and family to a far away place that is exciting but hard all at the same time. an unexpected pregnancy. a diagnosis.

while remembering many of these in my own life, He also revealed me to myself. who i am today is a direct reflection of all the hard. the joy is there because the hard was there. the shiny exists because He has sanded….and sanded….and sanded. when the difficult comes now, i can say,

experience this season for all it’s worth because there are diamonds coming out of this rough.

it has taken a lot of hard times, trials, hurting, and sifting for me to be in a place that welcomes the hard and difficult moments of life. because i see now that those only lasted for a minute in His eternal perspective. some of them are still working on us. He sees the end. He’s working in and with me now to grasp all that i can from the difficulties of each season.

we’re all in a season. and each season has it’s own unique description and purpose. He has ordained our story. before we were born, He knew us and our story. i want to walk through each season, getting everything out of it that it’s truly worth. i want to gain everything from each sanctifying time that i can because there is something coming in the future that He will use this sifting experience to prepare me for and it will be more bearable and more intentional if i grow and ache through this now.

James 1

New King James Version (NKJV)

Greeting to the Twelve Tribes

1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:

Greetings.

Profiting from Trials

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

The Perspective of Rich and Poor

Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

Loving God Under Trials

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Qualities Needed in Trials

19 So then,[a] my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Doers—Not Hearers Only

21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

26 If anyone among you[b] thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.