I have one of those quirky, fun friends who loves to entice unique conversations by throwing out thought provoking questions/challenges out on Facebook. Her recent question was, “Can you say one thing you love about your physical appearance without adding any negative modifiers?” For example, you couldn’t say, “I love my eyes” and then add, “but I wish my eyelashes were darker.” Normally the responses and conversations on her page are numerous, but after a couple days she only had a very few responses. Most people messaged her saying they couldn’t do it without a negative modifier or that there was nothing they could say they loved about their physical appearance.
Her question made me think about contentment in my life and motherhood. In our lives right now could we each say, I love this stage of motherhood without adding a negative modifier? I loved the baby stage, but it’s exhausting. I loved the toddler stage, but they are so strong willed. I love my teens, but they sure know how to push every button. I love being a mother, but it’s hard.
There is nothing wrong with adding a modifier! There are no perfect stages of life, and we all need to be real and honest with each other. Being a mom is not easy and whenever we get to a new stage, there will be a new difficulty. But sometimes our negative modifiers become the subjects of the sentence instead of just a brief addition to it. Sometimes we allow ourselves to fixate on the negative modifier and lose contentment in the stage God has given us.
“But, why?!” We have all heard our children whine at some point. It has that grating annoyance of I really don’t want to obey, and I want to do things my own way. I think this is sometimes me with God.
As an adult, I don’t whine the same way as my 5-year-old, but when something isn’t working according to my plan, whether it is some huge grand scheme or how I want to spend the next hour, I tend to get a little testy. I have less patience with anything in the house – the dogs, my children, even a silly inanimate object that won’t open, close, or behave like I think it should. It is easy for me to let my thoughts become ridiculously frustrated over the simplest things when things aren’t like I want them.
Pastor Tim recently quoted a book that states we have 31,000 thoughts in a waking 16-hour day. If we were to take our 31,000 thoughts and focus on the negative modifiers of life, we would be miserable in every situation. If we could learn to take those 31,000 thoughts and focus them on how good God is and look for ways He is working and can use us in kingdom work, our perspective changes. A discontent life starts within our own heads. No matter what suffering we have in our lives, living a content life is possible through God.
In America, sometimes we forget how good we have it. Sometimes the things we suffer over pale in comparison to what real suffering is. We allow discontentment into our lives over things like politics, Covid, traffic, bad drivers, or not getting enough time for ourselves.
A friend who has been on several trips to countries in need, told me there are Christians there who have no idea how they will feed their families that day, and yet when asked how they are, they respond with how much God has blessed them. They are not being fake or dishonest. They are acknowledging how good God is even in times of struggle, which is a constant in their lives. They are aware that God is their creator and provider, and that He is in control.
We are not only called to live contently when life is sort of hard, but even when it is excruciatingly hard. For some, suffering will never go away and every day they will endure pain. Philippians 4:12, “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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul didn’t say it was easy for him. He learned to be content but acknowledged that learning to be content came through God’s strength.
Living content lives doesn’t mean we will be free of exhaustion or pain. It doesn’t mean our bad circumstances will ever change the way we want them to. It doesn’t mean our health will be great. It doesn’t mean we won’t struggle financially. It doesn’t mean our kids won’t go through trying times. It means that, in spite of it all, we can still choose to be content in what God has allowed in our lives.
One guarantee of this life is we will have pain, but will we choose to glorify God in it? Will we let it draw us closer to him? Contentment is a choice, and is not always an easy choice. When I felt God leading me to write on the topic of contentment, I could honestly say I was in a content place, but it was also an easy place to be content in. I had no big shake ups in my life in that moment.
In His infinite wisdom, He always knows exactly what we will need! This past week I had a few big shake ups, but writing this article challenged me to be content. Not only has He given me His comfort and peace, but He also ordained a couple perfect moments with people I needed to hear from. I am so very thankful for a God who is always in control. Even through tough times, He gives us comfort and peace so that we can live contently with absolute confidence knowing His plan is better, stronger, and greater than ours could ever be!
Let’s talk about it…
- In what areas of your life, do you struggle to find contentment?
- In the hard times, we need to reflect on the goodness of God. Think back to some of the hard times in your life, in what ways did you see God’s goodness?
- Do you rely on God to be your source of strength, comfort, and peace?