Sunday, October 29, 2017

Contentment...


The other morning, as I finished wiping off the kitchen countertop between my stove and refrigerator, I turned around and suddenly it was as if I was seeing my kitchen through different eyes! It was like I was looking at my kitchen through the eyes of a stranger who was seeing it for the first time and noticing how lovely and light filled it is.

This might make more sense to you if you know that we recently did a whole kitchen update on our 1990's era all oak kitchen. Because we had a specific budget limit, we did not change the footprint of the kitchen or get new cabinets. Instead, we had the cabinets painted and did other budget friendly updates to them such as adding new hardware to the doors and drawers and putting glass inserts in the upper cabinets.  I am completely pleased with how it turned out, but I know that if money was no object we could have done more.  Demo that breakfast bar and add a huge island!  How about one of those fabulous French stoves!  Why not add a custom built range hood!  Yet, I am so very pleased and so very grateful for my kitchen just the way it is.  I am absolutely content with the kitchen God has given me.

I am definitely not a stranger to discontentment, however.  I have experienced it in many different areas.

Discontentment with my physical appearance, for example.  Why can't I be one of those people that can eat whatever they want without gaining weight? (Comparing myself to everyone I know who seems to have that kind of miraculous metabolism.)

Discontentment about my relationships. I wish my husband or my children or my friends were more ____________. (Fill in the blank with whatever I'm currently noticing in someone else's family dynamics or friendships.)

OR, I wish our church was more ____________ . (Fill in the blank with whatever I am noticing or seeing online that seems to be making another ministry more dynamic or successful.)

OR,  I wish my house was more___________. (Fill in the blank with what I'm seeing on decor blogs, Instagram, Pinterest or HGTV.)

"Comparison is the thief of joy", Theodore Roosevelt once said.  It may not be in the Bible, but it is true nonetheless. We are constantly bombarded with the temptation to compare, especially now in our media saturated culture. Contentment is something I've had to work on through the years.  Maybe some of the things that have helped me to learn to be more content will help you as well.

1)  Watch what you are watching.  When we bought our new to us home two years ago, we had a budget that we were not willing to exceed.  When we were "house shopping" and stepped into our current home, though much of the decor was stuck in the 1990's, the bones were great and it was full of wonderful natural light.  I knew we could, over time, update things in the house. So, once we put an offer on this home I turned off all of the real estate updates that had been coming to my email.  I made a choice to be content with our choice and to not look at what might have beens.  That is the same reason I don't go to Street of Dreams type home shows.  While those things may not be a stumbling block for you, for me it doesn't set well with my spirit to look at million dollar homes that I could never afford, built with every fabulous feature a person could imagine. Similarly, if my HGTV, Pinterest, or other social media viewing begins to stir up discontentment within me, then I know it's time to turn it off.

2)  Keep a gratitude journal.  I've been keeping a gratitude journal since 2009.  Every day I try to list at least three things that I am grateful for-at least three blessings that I've noticed in my life that day.  Truly, this simple exercise has done a total rewrite of my mindset.  I clearly see God's faithfulness in my life, whether times are great or times are hard.  I now know, because of my journals filled with the evidence, that my life is blessed and that my God is always faithful to meet all of my needs and that He truly does care about the desires of my heart.

3)  If you must compare, do so from an attitude of abundance, not lack.  I grew up in a family of seven children.  My dad worked at a local paper mill.  My best friend down the street was one of three children.  Her father was a business owner.  When I played at her house, I noticed how poor we were.  My father's brother and his wife had seventeen children. (Yes, seventeen!)  They were extremely poor.  When I would go to their house, I noticed how rich we were in comparison to them.
Do you see what I mean?  We can always compare our lot to someone who is better off than us, which leaves us with a sense of lack.  Or we can realized how blessed we are compared to most of the world, which helps us to see how truly blessed we are.

4)  Feed your mind on the truth.  Especially in the areas of discontentment about my appearance, personality traits, talents, or the gifts and callings of God in my life, feeding myself on what God's Word says about me instead of comparing myself to others has been a huge key to my contentment.  It has helped me to focus on being the best me I can be, instead of trying to make myself more like someone else.  I once heard that God's anointing can only be on the real you.  In other words, God will never put His stamp of approval on or bless my efforts to be a copy cat of someone else.  Yes, the apostle Paul taught us that we are to imitate the good character and conduct of those who are following Christ, but that is a totally different thing that trying to morph my appearance, personality or mannerisms to be more like another person.  God created me unique. He delights in my uniqueness.  It would crush my heart if one of my three daughters was always trying to be like one of her sisters.  I want my girls to embrace who they are in Christ, to be all He created them to be, not to try to be like someone else.  In the same way, it must hurt the heart of God when we don't embrace the way He made us.  We are greatly loved by our Creator, and should love and accept ourselves as His fearfully and wonderfully made creation.

While I still struggle with discontentment at times, it has become more and more infrequent, by God's grace. If that can happen for me, I know it can for you, too!

still following,

4 comments:

  1. Love this post. I'm learning to be content with what I have. I'm in the process of de-cluttering and organizing and on top of that painting areas that need to be done. God's teaching me how to total depend on Him and be content and happy in every area of my life. This post just emphasized what He is doing in my life. Thanks you!!

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    1. I actually love decluttering and getting rid of stuff. There's something very freeing about it!

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  2. Dear Elizabeth, Contentment is my One Word this year & oh how at times it’s been challenging to embrace. Thank you for this beautiful timely blog. Your words ministered to me. I am going to print these steps towards Contentment.
    Love you my precious friend!!

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    1. Carol, you are such a blessing and encouragement to me! I love that contentment is your word for 2017. Mine is abide.

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