Saturday, May 3, 2008

Contentment

This weekend is our annual "Hobby Weekend" up at camp- we have quilters and scrapbookers come to camp to craft & fellowship, and it's so much fun. The last 2 years I've been able to attend the retreat, and also be the hostess for it, but this year, with little Z, I've just been hostessing some & chatting with the ladies some, and not scrapbooking at all. But I did give a devotional on Thursday, which kind of outlines some of the struggles I've gone through since little Z has been born...so I thought I'd share it with you! Here goes:

None of us will ever be content with what we HAVE. Contentment is possible, regardless of what we have or don’t have. I’m going to tell you a little bit about the journey that God has taken me on to teach me about contentment.

I have struggled with contentment many times in my life. When I was in college, I thought I would be content if only I was married. Then I got married, and while it’s wonderful, it didn’t make me content. When we were first married, we lived in a trailer, and I thought, “If I only had a house, then I would be content”. We moved into a beautiful house after about a year and a half of marriage, and guess what? It didn’t make me content. Then Joel lost his job, and we lived in a tiny apartment, and while we were living there, God really dealt with me and grew and changed me, and I learned a lot about contentment, and I thought I had it ‘down pat’ by the time we moved here. But there was still one thing I didn’t have. A baby. I WANTED a baby. I NEEDED a baby. If only I had a BABY, my life would be perfect and complete. THEN I would be content. We prayed for a baby. We tried for a baby. We waited for a baby. I cried like a baby every month when the test was negative. And then, one day last spring, I found out that I was FINALLY expecting a baby! Joel and I were on top of the world! The pregnancy and delivery went smoothly, and nine months later, on December 5th, little Z joined our family!

And finally my life was complete and every second of every day has been smooth sailing ever since. Right? Of course not. Those of you who have had newborn babies surely remember what it’s like those first few weeks- the lack of sleep, the seemingly constant crying (both baby and Mommy some days), the hormonal imbalances, the feeling of complete incompetence at being a new parent… I was miserable. Here I was, at a time when I should have been enjoying this wonderful tiny blessing, and all I could do was cry and complain. I was totally focused on myself- the sleep I was missing, the time that I was stuck at home with a screaming baby, when would my life be ‘normal’ again? Ever since I was young, my only dream and desire in life has been to be a stay-at-home mom. I never wanted a career or fame and fortune, only to get married, have babies and stay home to raise them. And I definitely wanted Z- we waited for him for so long. So I expected the transition to motherhood to be easy for me, and I expected to just automatically enjoy every minute of it. One day, when little Z was a few weeks old, I was having a particularly rotten attitude, and Joel called me on it. I thought about the things he had said for the rest of the day, and I realized that when I was focused on myself, I wasn’t loving Z, and I wasn’t pleasing God.

I spent a lot of time in prayer, and started striving to use every difficult moment as an opportunity to praise God and to love my son. I began to choose to trust God to give me rest when I truly needed it, and to give me and Joel wisdom about how to raise our son. And when I changed my attitude, things got a whole lot better! I started to truly enjoy each moment with my son, and I was able to handle the crying and the night feedings much better. I have had to depend on God all the time during this transition, but now I feel like God has finally brought me to a point where I can truly say, “I love being a mom. I love what I do, staying at home with my son. I am truly content in where I am and who I am and what I am doing.” Some days (and nights) are still better than others, but through God’s strength & His patience, I am choosing to love my son, and to love being a mom. Of course, as soon as I think I have this figured out, I’m sure God will find something else to work on!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that contentment is all about three things: First of all, your perspective. 1 Corinthians 15:28 says that God is all in all. When God’s plan for us is our focus, we can be truly content in where He has us right now, because we know that He has a future and a hope for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Secondly, we have to adjust our priorities. If my top priority is getting what I want instead of doing what God wants, I won’t be content, and I won’t be glorifying God. But if God’s plan is my top priority, then everything I need will be added unto me. (Mt. 6:33). Finally, we have to depend on God’s power in order to be content- we can’t do it ourselves! Phil. 4:11-13 shows us how Paul depended on God to help him be content in every situation:

"I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

As we submit our lives to Christ and His will for us, we will begin to become content. We need to forget about what we have or don’t have, and focus totally on who we are and what we have in Christ. Then we can be truly content.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Amen!!! Every person on the face of the earth struggles with this. It's one of those things that we all know, but it's hard to apply.