Saturday, August 18, 2012

finding the path of contentment

A few years ago I was in a very different place than I am now.  I worked full-time at a job I most certainly was not crazy about, felt stressed and pressed for time almost all the time, and I had no children.  At the time, we were postponing starting a family until Josh finished his master's degree.  It wasn't a bad life, just not the life I wanted.  I longed for the day when I could say goodbye to my desk job and trade it for burp cloths and messy diapers and chubby baby feets.  

I wish I could say I handled myself well during that time, but sadly I cannot.  I was sorely discontent.  I spent my days obsessing over the fact that my life didn't look anything like I wanted it to, and felt like every day was just a countdown to something better.  

I had actually really started to annoy myself with my attitude.  I certainly had a good life; why was I having so much trouble feeling happy?  

Everything changed one morning on the way to work.  I heard this song by Nichole Nordeman and just started crying.  The premise of the song is based on Christ's words in John 10:10, "I came that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly."  The first two lines of the song are, "Did You come that we might just survive?  Did You come that we might just get by?"  I realized right then and there that the Lord did not intend for me to spend my days waiting for the next thing.  Instead, He wanted me to make the most of every moment, every day.  I purposed in my heart right then and there to just take one day at a time and allow God to use me in whatever way He wanted, even if it meant being a nine-to-fiver and waiting a few more years to fill our home with babies.  It was a huge decision and, as you can imagine, I was a much happier person because of it.  My circumstances had not changed but my attitude had, and it made a world of difference.  

And then came 2010, the year my dreams came true.

In January of 2010 Josh received a letter from the directors of the Master's Program he had applied for.  The letter stated they would not be accepting a class for 2010 and there was a chance the program would be closed altogether.  The news was quite shocking.  But Josh and I prayed about it and took this as a sign to just go ahead and try and start a family instead of waiting for some ambiguous amount of time for a program that might not even exist.

So in December 2010, we welcomed our Micah into the world.  My dreams of being a mommy had all come true.  And I was content.  Or so I thought.  It's pretty hard to be discontent when your life is, as Mary Poppins would say, practically perfect in every way.

But my life doesn't really feel perfect right now.  I am carrying a baby whom the doctors expect will only live for a very short time.  I will not be able to experience the joy of watching Evie grow day by day.  And it hurts.  And I am once again starting to feel discontentment creeping in.

But I read a passage from Psalms this morning that was quite convicting.  

Psalms 17:13-15 - Deliver my life from the wicked ... from men of the world who have their portion in this life ... they are satisfied with children ... As for me, I will see your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.

As a Christian I realize my portion is not in this life.  As such, I can't allow myself to be satisfied with anything other than that which conforms me to Christ's image, even something as wonderful as a baby.  

I suppose I had started to confuse contentment with an easy life.  A dream life.  But now that my perfect world is being rocked I have to choose once again to find the place of contentment and take it one day at a time.  

What does that look like?  I am not really sure myself.  But today my prayer is that God will use me in every way He can.  I will focus on the difficult task of today and not let my heart yearn for a better tomorrow.  Hopefully I can echo the words Paul penned from a dreary Roman prison cell, "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content" (Philippians 4:11).  


  1. Sarah, great post, as someone that experience disappointments in life, although not in the same way. I am still learning to try to be content with what God has given me and find ways that He can use me. Continue to look to Him and trust in Him and I know he will use you. God bless.

  2. I stopped by Oma's today, and the FIRST THING she asked me was, "Did you read Sarah's blog today?" Thank you for sharing your heart's prayers. You are such an encouragement!

  3. Oh how much I find that this is the secret to joyful any circumstance. Last Sunday our 9 year old granddaughter paid Mark & I a great compliment. She said "Know what I like about you and Bebaw (her name for Mark)? You are always happy!" We were both delighted that she finds us consistent in a world that has a lot of ups and downs, but of course, no one is always happy. Thanks for the reminder, Sarah, that contentment (or happiness) is a matter of me surrendering to God's will for me in the present and living in the peace that reliance on Him brings. And by the way, I love the new look and focus of your blog!