January 6, 2016

Contentment is a Choice.

"Contentment with life is not a feeling, but it is a decision we must make. Contentment does not mean that we never want to see change or improvement, but it does mean we can be happy where we are and will do the best we can with what we have. It also means we will maintain an attitude that allows us to enjoy the gift of life". {Joyce Meyer}

I read that quote in my devotional this morning and it really struck a chord with me--(I never say "struck a chord with me" ever, so I don't know why I thought now was a good time to start). Anyway!
The aim for contentment has been my struggle my entire life.
I will want something, I will get it, and yet I will still find myself wanting more...wanting something else. The desire for contentment is like a broken record; it always ends the same way (or lack there of, I should say).

Never being satisfied with what we have is a fleshly desire. We can see that God knew that this would be a huge and common struggle for His children, because there are numerous verses in the Bible on this topic.

For example, one verse that really hits me is "But Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it". {1 Timothy 6:6-0}

Wow. Do you ever think about that? Obviously when we were born we didn't bring anything with us into the world, and when we die we are leaving everything behind. We can't take our house, car, spouse, children, TV, money, social circle, intelligence, or skill with us. If I can't be in possession of any of those things when I enter into eternity, then what is the point in desiring them so?

Not being content leads to coveting (to desire wrongfully). God knew this would be such a big issue that He even has it within the Ten Commandments. "You shall not covet your neighbour's house..." {Exodus 20:17}. Coveting seems like such a tiny commandment to break, doesn't it? It may seem so, but then again, it only takes a little bit of coveting for a marriage to fail. It only takes a little bit of coveting for someone to get murdered. It only takes a little bit of coveting to ruin someones life. The consequences of coveting are atrocious and THAT is why God commands us against such things.
Therefore, when we choose to follow God's commandments, He will bless us in ways we can't even imagine.

Six years ago at Bible school in Germany, I finally won this spiritual battle that had been going on inside of me for YEARS. You see, ever since Kindergarten I wanted a boyfriend. I know, I know, that is WAY too young to even be thinking about boys, and I can only pray my future children at that age will be pondering about other things like...crayons and construction paper. Despite this fierce desire to have a boyfriend, I went all through elementary, middle, high school, and my freshman year of college without ever having one. I can admit there were some close calls, (I'm not totally detestable), but none of them ever checked off enough requirements on my "perfect future husband" list. I was super picky and today am sure glad that I was, but it was HARD. It was hard to see all of my friends being pursued and loved by amazing guys when I wasn't. My desire for a boyfriend and lack of contentment didn't make me BETTER, in fact it made me BITTER.

When I first got to Germany and began life at a new school it was amazing to forget everything I was going through and have a "fresh start"; but nothing is truer than the fact that you cannot run away from your problems. So sure enough, all of my insecurities, bitterness, and ungratefulness caught up to me. I still remember the night after I returned back to Germany after an awesome girls weekend in Paris...how I cried myself to sleep. You KNOW that a 19-year-old is bitter when they are living the life in Germany, spending weekends away with some of her best girlfriends next to the Eiffel Tower and the Arc du Triomphe and still manages to find a reason to cry.

I knew I had a choice to make. I could either waste away my time at Bible school drowning in my insecurities OR I could truly let God in and allow Him to change me. The following days and weeks were spent drilling myself in the Word, spending time in my relationship with Christ, getting advice from Godly women, and learning all that I could from my teachers. Looking back now that whole process is kind of one big blur. But what I do remember is one night in December finally thinking happily to myself, "Wow, I can actually see myself being a single woman for the rest of my life. I can do this"! For honestly the first time in my whole life I was finally content with being single. I finally realized that my confidence and strength wasn't supposed to come from me, it was supposed to come from God, and He was enough for me. It was such an awesome realization and I wouldn't have traded my journey to get to that place for anything. I had finally felt content in who I was in Christ and didn't need a guy to get me to that point.

And then that very same night, probably 30 minutes to an hour later, this guy named Jarryd started complimenting me, making me soup, talking with me, taking me for walks, making me laugh, and now six years later we are an old married couple (JK, newlyweds forever!!). So adding to what I said before, when I found true belonging in Christ, that is when He blessed me with Jarryd. I'm seriously so thankful that God never gave me a boyfriend before any of this because then I probably would have driven this boyfriend away and had to have gone through some pretty bad experiences.

I have seen what God can do when I choose to find my identity, strength, and joy in Him! So today, six years later in 2016, when I am struggling with this unhappiness towards things like my job and where I am currently living...it baffles me because I know that this unthankfulness is not the answer. God has done so much in my life, how can I not praise Him? So, because I know that struggles cannot disappear out of my life completely, I must remember that contentment is not a feeling but a choice. And with God's strength I will choose to see the good in my life rather than the not-so-good.

Take the season of Winter for example. It is the absolute worst. I loathe it like no other. But despite my detesting, I choose to see the beauty in it and sometimes its beauty overrides its hideously frigid winds.

My backyard in Germany. (2010)
My face says it all: This whole Niagara Falls thing is beautiful, but get me out of this weather NOW...
Just sometimes. ;)

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