Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Contentment

Paul says in Phillipians 4:11-12: "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

Those are some tough words to live by, but it is what I am striving for in my life. To be content no matter what the circumstances means that my contentment cannot be derived from the material things or relationships that I have, because these things can at any time be taken away. My contentment has to come solely from knowing that I am fulfilling God's will for my life, whatever that may be.

I think that the material things and relationships in my life bring happiness and make life more enjoyable, but I have not found them to bring the kind of contentment that Paul is talking about. This is how I know. If you could have asked me 10 years ago to write down everything it would take for me to be content, the life I am living now would match up pretty close to that list - my relationships, professional life, finances, family. Yet I've found myself at times not feeling at peace, and I don't think that feeling can be satisfied by any material item.

Here is a concrete example from my life. When I was in college, I really wanted to find that perfect someone with whom I could spend the rest of my life. After Jason and I were married, I thought I knew what contentment was. We became pregnant shortly after we were married (oops) but I miscarried. I remember during that time I was telling God if you only let me carry this baby, I will be satisfied; all that I need to be happy is my husband and a baby. Well, a couple of years later Elizabeth came along, and all was well again. But after another couple of years we decided we wanted to add to our family - I was no longer content with just one child. While I was pregnant, I would thank God for "granting our wishes" so to speak, and after Anna was born, all was well again. Then a couple more years go by (man, we've been married a long time) and we decide we want to expand our family again. But at this time God has chosen not to "grant our wish." We have known for awhile now that two kids may be it for the Wuertley family (guess we shouldn't have spouted off about wanting to have six kids.) Three years ago when Anna was first born, I was 100% content with my family - but three years later, it was hard for awhile to feel content.

I don't think # of kids is the only example there is in a lesson of contentment. It could be job positition, the kind of house you live in, social status, # of comments you get on your blog :) - the issues vary from person to person. There are a couple of lessons I have learned (and am learning) as I deal with this issue of contentment:

#1 - Yearning for something I don't have makes me miss out on the things I do have. What a waste life would be if I didn't enjoy the many blessings that God has given me.

#2 - God knows best. I have found myself more and more in my prayer life not praying for specific things as much, but praying that I may know God's will for my life. I know there are many times when my kids will ask me for something that they think will be good for them, and I have to tell them no. Sometimes they do not understand why I don't let them do what they want to do, but they have to trust that I am making decisions for them that are in their best interest. I must do the same with God.

#3 - If I am truly content with my life, than other people's circumstances should not affect me. If someone I know gets a job promotion, or a bigger house, or their kids seem more well-adjusted than mine, or they have six kids and I don't, it should not matter. Envy should not be an issue I struggle with.

Boy, it's so easy to think you have it all together on this subject until calamity strikes. I think of Job - what would I do in that situation? I can't say I would have the same reaction as he did. I was stressed out as it was with the few days we were out of power and the repercussions from the mess. I'll have to admit, most of my life I have been living in plenty. Sometimes I wonder if God is going to test me one day to see how I really hold up when I am instead in need.

This post has quite a spiritual connotation to it, and I know in my initial post I said I was going to stay away from these topics. But this one was on my mind today, so I am making an exception. And I feel pretty content with my decision :) .

3 Comments:

Blogger Kelley said...

Such thought provoking thoughts, Deb. You almost made me cry. This post hits me square in the head as I am always looking for the next "thing" that will make me content since God has not seen fit to give me a husband and family. I know in my mind that I need to be thankful for the many blessings he has given me and find my contentment in Him, but it is really hard to do sometimes. The human feelings don't always let me do that. Thanks for posting this, I needed it. :)

June 27, 2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Don't you just wonder if there truly is anyone out there (who hasn't written a book of the Bible) that has actually been content, not worried about everyone's expectations, and the like? I wonder this often. I, like Jaena's comment on the previous post would LOVE to meet them and learn from them as I have yet to truly discover this for myself! Really awesome post..

June 27, 2006 9:51 PM  
Blogger Joe & Randi said...

Deb,

Thanks for reminding me that it has been 12 years since i graduated...so hard to believe. The card games bring back some good memories :) My wife randi was a 2000 grad of IWU as well. She is a labor and delivery nurse. Our daughter Rachel is 15 months old....wow how time has passed.

I have added you to my blog and will check your blog often.

Good to hear from you,

Joe

June 28, 2006 10:52 AM  

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