Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On Contentment and Doing Hard Things

I struggle with contentment on and off these days and wonder if you do too. I find that it is too cold outside and inside this winter. Our house is old and big and drafty. My husband doesn't understand that I want something really personal and lovely for holidays like the one coming up. And then there's my birthday, and he doesn't have a clue about the importance of the celebration. It is simply not in his DNA to provide for me in a way that is personal and lovely.
I gained a little weight this fall and winter. My prayer life is thin sometimes. My friends are too busy for me. My shoulder hurts. My students don't do all of their homework. My kids don't call me often enough. You name it, I've got a complaint about it.
In putting this down in words it becomes abundantly clear to
me that it is all about me!
I discovered a few weeks ago that I'd let slip my deep and abiding time with the LORD. Oh, I've prayed, and I've read my Bible, but that time where I genuinely commune with Him slipped past me as I carried out my daily routines.
I had been away from home serving as my daughter's caretaker during a complicated pregnacy. Her home is small, so there was not space for me to set out my stuff to study. My Bible was placed beside the bed. When I awakened at 3 a.m. to take my turn at feeding the tiny, preemie infant, I forgot to begin the day with His word. Don't misunderstand me; I praised the Lord for this perfect baby; I praised the Lord for many things that are easy and obvious for which to give God praise.
It takes some extra initiative to get on the bandwagon of contentment though. It takes extra effort to leave behind that path of least resistance to the easy stuff. Initiative and effort to do the small things which can make a difference in our emotional outlook and our physical output when we unplug ourselves from the abiding closeness of a relationship with our Creator leads us down the path of discontentment!
More recently I've read a book called Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris, about the teen rebellion against low expectations. I don't think this book speaks only to teens, but instead to all of us who have slipped and fallen into the pit of discontentment. I've read and studied this book along with a study of the book of Daniel in the Bible. Daniel was probably in his late teens when taken captive to Babylon. He stood firm in the regimens of his upbringing, and he brought pleasure to the king he served by doing very hard things. I'm fairly certain he was content even as he spent the rest of his life as a captive.
Since I've taken note of the discontentment in my life I've accomplished some small things in the "do hard things" department. I have made more of an effort to be in the Word, to be prayerful, to step outside my comfort zone to bless someone else, to forget about the small tings lacking in my life in order to make more room for God and His blessings. It has worked! I AM content and have new plans for my life. The plans include making more time for deeper relationships, being more organized, making the effort to make home visits to my friends rather than expecting them to stop by while they are in town. I've stepped more fully into some creative endeavors too.
Do some hard things with me, people! Read a whole chapter in the Bible, read a whole book (2 Corinthians, for example). Make short lists of people who need prayer. I've focused on those who need health and healing on Mondays, those who need employment on Tuesdays, those whose marriages need help on Wednesdays, those who are orphans on Thursdays, those serving in the military on Fridays, the President on Saturdays, and my husband on Sundays. Step into what you enjoy, what you have been called to do. Let us join the ranks of those who live in contentment this winter. Let us make a change in our own lives so we can bless others with our own contentment. Do some hard things with me!


Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Love your honesty. I'm so sorry you are going through this period of discontentment, I pray that through this, your relationship with God will be brought to an even deeper level.

I've heard of that book and would like to read it when my kids get closer to the teen years.

Loved your comment on my chocolate post!

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

You are doing so well, Catherine! I couldn't believe the change in you from our last phone conversation.

God is moving so big in your life and you are embracing it with full expectation!

I'm proud of you, my friend!