Saturday, December 31, 2016

Finding Contentment in 2017

It is so ironic that THIS popped up on my timehop today. On this day 5 years ago the Lord put this verse on my heart, and I woke up this morning with this same verse (& post) burning in my mind. I’ve had so many messages pop into my head over the past year and I always want to blog about them, but when I don’t do it right away I rarely get around to it. So, I decided seeing this was a nudge that I needed to write this out- NOW.

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I truly believe so many issues stem from a lack of contentment…living beyond our means (which = more debt/bondage/stress), feelings of unhappiness or inadequacy, jealousy, comparison, and most importantly, a lack of PEACE. I truly believe peace and contentment go hand in hand.

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There is a huge difference in contentment and complacency. Honestly, I have struggled with finding the balance. If anything right now, I am working on being less complacent. I am very content! Does that mean life is perfect? NO, of course not. But I am so thankful the Lord has given me such a spirit of contentment over the past couple of years. It is something I have prayed for, and the Lord has answered, so I wanted to share a little of my mindset on this journey.

There is nothing wrong with wanting more for your family or having big goals and dreams, but I believe the ones the Lord places in our hearts only come after contentment. If we lack contentment, wanting more is typically more about greed and materialism (& that is not from God.) And I am not just talking about financially. This can be in many areas- our spiritual walk, ministry, our marriage, families/raising children, our physical health, serving in our community, our home. Many of the verses do specifically address the love of money because I think the Lord knew this would be a struggle for many. (Although just to clarify- it says the LOVE of money itself is the root of all kinds of evil. Money itself is not evil. It takes money to live, to run our churches, to support ministries & charities…money is necessary.)

I also love Hebrews 13:5. I remember being in elementary or middle school and one of my mentors taught me to memorize that verse by singing it to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus” and it has stuck with me all these years.

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I see both ends of the spectrum- some people who are so busy chasing money that they are never content & are lacking peace…and people who think wanting and working for MORE for your future/family is greedy or materialistic, so they tend to err on the side of laziness or complacency. Bottom line: People who have more have an opportunity to give more. Does that mean everyone will? No. Some of the most generous people are ones who don’t have anything. So can you imagine if those people had MUCH to give? On the flip side, there are lots of wealthy people who are extremely generous!!! (A middle class mindset is one that thinks the rich aren’t doing enough. I remember reading a story where a very wealthy man was embarrassed about driving an expensive car. I’m sure people judged him for that! But in reality, that car vs.the amount of money he earned in a year was comparable to what most people spend on a daily latte compared to their yearly salary. Most of us would never consider that perspective! Or the fact that this particular man GIVES away millions and millions of dollars every year to support ministries and charities.)Money can be used for good or evil, so the more money we have in the hands of good, godly people, the more that money can be used for GOOD! Reading Dave Ramsey’s book The Legacy Journey really helped me undo some negative thinking I had about wealthy people and money in general (from a Biblical perspective), so it may be worth picking up if you haven’t read it yet. It is an excellent follow up to the Total Money Makeover & to start thinking ahead if you’re making your way through his 7 baby steps.

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There are SO many Scriptures about working hard as if working for the Lord. I think it’s important to find something you’re passionate about & you enjoy, something that is a good use of your time, talent, & resources, finding a purpose to drive you that is bigger than just a paycheck, and then giving that “job” to the Lord and not allowing it to become an idol in your life. It is possible to be content with what you have while working for more.

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And like I said, this isn’t all about money necessarily. I have found that today’s society sends the message to “be comfortable in your own skin” and “love yourself.” Here’s the thing. While we must be learn to be content with the "Unchangeables," we should still strive to take the best possible care of our temples. Of our families. Of our homes. The world’s message gives us the message that we have a license to live without discipline on the basis that we are “loving ourselves,” when in fact the opposite is true.

So, back to finding contentment.

I think it’s important to know what the Bible says about being content. It commands us to be content. It tells us that godliness with contentment are great gain. If this is an area where you struggle, memorize these verses and begin praying for the Lord to help you in this area and change your heart. He is SO FAITHFUL to answer prayers when we genuinely seek Him and desire change that will draw us closer to Him/make us look more like Christ.

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Studying the Word of God & fervent prayer are the solution to pretty much any issue in our life, so it is always best to start there.

There are also some practical things we can do that will help too though.

Finding Contentment:

  • starts with a GRATEFUL spirit. When you are so, so thankful & “give thanks in all things” as we are called to do, you instantly feel happier, are more pleasant to be around, and are less likely to complain. Gratitude is a habit, which means we can become more thankful. I have found that most people assume they’re a grateful person, but never stop to consider if their thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions actually reflect that. For most of us, God has been WAY better to us than we deserve! I know that I am so beyond thankful for his grace and mercy in my life, so I want my attitude to be a reflection of a grateful heart. Be thankful for the roof over your head, the food in your belly, the bed to sleep in, the clothes on your back, your health, your friends and family, your senses, for waking up today…there is just SO much to be grateful for! I know I don’t have to tell you that, but sometimes it is a nice reminder to consciously THANK the Lord for both the little and big blessings in our life. Daily.
  • starts with the right mindset. Perspective is HUGE! If we choose to focus on what we do have, our blessings, & the good in others, it will completely reshape how we approach everything.

           You will become a more content person…quickly.

  • means choosing to be genuinely happy for others & celebrating their wins. When you see someone who has lost weight, bought a bigger house or newer car, has on a cute outfit, whose children are very well behaved and respectful, who cooks delicious meals for her family, who has a gift in a certain area, who gets a promotion, who achieves a big goal, whose husband seems to spoil her…how do you feel? Do you feel jealous? Do you think “I wish that would happen to me!” or maybe think of  reasons that other person got lucky? Do you make excuses why that can’t be you? I have found the best way to approach this is to genuinely compliment others & extend congratulations. It is so rewarding to be able to be  GENUINELY happy when I see something good happen for someone else. If someone has a quality or gift I admire, or they do something BIG (or even small), or accomplish something, or are excited about something, I try to verbally (or through written word- a comment, text, note, etc.) let them know I recognize that and I am happy for them. And I choose not to allow any feelings of jealousy or envy to even creep into my mind. Isn’t it amazing that we have control over that? That’s why we are commanded to “take our thoughts captive, making them obedient to Christ.”
  • means protecting yourself. To be honest, we don’t go shopping very often (if at all) and don’t really watch t.v. I try to stay off Pinterest. I’m not saying you can’t ever go anywhere or look at anything & to completely shelter yourself. (That would be ridiculous!) But, if you know going to the mall is going to cause you to overspend…or watching a certain thing on t.v. is going to cause you to covet…or being around a certain group of people leads to discontentment…choose to simply NOT do those things. Also, begin to pray for discipline! You can have the discipline to go to Target and ONLY get what is on your list, despite what all the memes say. (Ha!) Really though…
  • comes through surrounding yourself with others who are content. Not lazy or complacent. Just content. Find friends who challenge you to BECOME more, think BIGGER, work HARDER, DREAM more, GIVE more, & stretch yourself. God created us for GROWTH! But there is a balance. We have a couple of people in our lives like this (not many, but a few) and we are so thankful for their wisdom and example.It is so very true that you become like the people you surround yourself around (whether you like it or not), so choose wisely.

There is so much JOY & peace in being content. Praying 2017 is a year of finding true contentment!!

1 comment:

Moon Sparkle said...

Inspiring post! Thank you. :)