how to be content in two easy steps
Okay, I totally don't actually have a really real answer to that, except I could say start here. But if you've been following for a few days, you already know that. And I've had the delight and difficulty of sorting through a variety of really intricate and intimidating topics along the way. This experiment has been profoundly frustrating for me in many ways, because just as sure as you sit there on your electronic device reading this, as soon as I started talking about "how to be content" the Lord began pressing things into my life that have been fully designed to wreck my previous understanding of contentment. Previously, I just thought that contentment was about being (and feeling) satisfied with my life and circumstances. I kind of imagined a contented woman has a little serene glow about her as she knits things in her overstuffed chair and her children play & learn at her feet. A contented woman not only was happy with her home and income, she was always pleased with her husband, always delighted with her children, loved her hair even on bad hair days, and was even happy with her bum. I did. I seriously thought if I was content, then even if my circumstances didn't change, I would suddenly feel remarkably different about them.
Newsflash: I do not.
I do not feel differently about some of my more frustrating circumstances and I can't say I love my bum, but I am beginning to grasp a deeper understanding of what it means to have a contented heart before the Father. Because while it is true that my circumstances won't change, it is also true that sometimes my Feeler does not either. It turns out, contentment is actually a discipline. It requires action and practice and we don't always feel good about it. That's been the culmination of much of this study for me - I have to (get to?) choose contentment. I get to put it on, part of my Christ-life wardrobe.
And I think I can really say that to be content in two easy steps is possible. Okay, maybe just two steps. Because it's not always easy. But here they are:
On the one hand, not exactly groundbreaking, are they? But on the other...what powerful steps to take!
I cannot hear the sweet, soft whisper of God's voice if I am doing All The Talking, all the praying, all the grumbling, all the asking, begging, complaining, bartering, explaining, discussing, negotiating. I cannot hear what God desires me to hear if my own voice or my own thoughts are ringing through my ears all the day long. I have a friend who desperately wants something of God. What she wants is a good, holy thing to desire. And she is wrestling with the reality that God wants to speak TO her in the waiting and that she cannot hear Him if she is only ever pleading for Him to give her the gift she desires.
Mother Teresa said once, "We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness."
In order to move towards a contented heart, we must stop talking, stop grumbling and be still.
But part two? The bit about being grateful?
There is hardly more to it.
Stop grumbling and make way for gratitude to grow. Be practical about it, be legalistic about it if you must, but find ways to be grateful and to verbalize it. Yesterday I wrote about gratitude and even included some practical ways to exercise your Thank-er. Because the reality is that, with some genuine exceptions - you have enough. You are enough, you have enough to meet your needs. I don't want to be guilty of chasing God for what He can give me, rather than chasing after His heart.
I want to slay my dissatisfaction and discontent with the sword that is gratitude, so that I can make a way for a heart full of thanksgiving and gratefulness to God for His generosity to me. I don’t know who said it first, but that commonly heard quip that “gratitude turns what we have into enough” is proving to be true in my heart and home.
“I have learned to be content” does not happen on the mountaintop, but in the low, low valley where Christ becomes all. He does not become all here in that He was not all before, but in the valley we begin to see what always ways, if we will allow Him to reveal it: that Christ Jesus is all, is sufficient, is enough for weary, aching heart.
Father, continue to show me how to shut my mouth to grumbling and open my heart to gratitude, that I would discipline myself to contentment for the glory of your name!