Have you ever had thoughts such as "I'll be happier when....?" Like "I'll be happier when i have more money." or "I'll be happier when i get a new job." even "I'll be happier when my baby sleeps through the night." I know i am not alone on this. haha.
Discontentment pushes aside joy. It is almost down right impossible to be joyful and also discontent at the same time. Trust me, i have tried...many times. haha. But i have also found on my journey to contentment that the more joy you have...the less room you have for discontentment.
Contentment is not so much having what we want as it is WANTING WHAT WE HAVE. To be satisfied with who we are, where we are, what we are doing, etc. It is hard finding that balance of bettering ourselves while also being content. Especially while the "American" dream has been mainly about wanting more and better. It is great to better yourself! Like getting healthy, education, anything to improve our life and well being.
It is also sometimes hard to be content when things always change. Newborn babies grow up to be teenagers, jobs change, we age, seasons come and go. So we need to learn how to be happy where we are....every changing moment. We always have an opportunity to learn to be content in whatever place or season we find ourselves.
Sometimes i find myself looking too far ahead in the future. I get too busy looking forward that i forget to enjoy the here and now of today. True contentment is being able to say "I am happy right here where i am" and mean it regardless of circumstances.
"Learn to cultivate the virtue of contentment - which frees us from forever wanting to exist in just one stage of life. Contentment also frees us to savor the gift of the present and to know the joy God wants us to experience today."
There are somethings...categories, if you will, that i have found to lead to discontentment.
Growing up i always compared myself to other girls and women. Always thinking if i did not look or act a certain way then i was not considered beautiful. That led me to be discontent with myself.
You can compare yourself, your possessions, and anything else connected to you with someone else. That can lead to two things - pride and discontentment.
I actually recall an instance that happened to me...not long after i had given birth to my son James. It was a very rainy day. Ryan gave me some time to go shopping for some clothes by myself. I was new into being a mother - i had not figured out how to take care of a baby and still make time to take care of myself...such as put on makeup or prettify my hair. So on this day, i went to the mall in my overly comfy sweats, no make up, baseball cap on (to cover up unkempt hair), and glasses. I was feeling so good to be able to have some time to myself and excited to get some new clothes. Remember, i just had a baby not long ago, so i was trying to get used to my "new normal" post baby body. I was having a great time....then walked in this creature. I am never one to stare at people, but this woman...i guess was used to stares. She had the most gorgeous flowing silk like hair. No roots showing. Perfectly groomed. Her face was all done up and her teeth were so white that i had to squint. She of course had a tall slender figure. And she somehow managed to wear heels in the awful weather. And not to mention her clothes showed off everything that she wanted to show off. After i took one glance at her i looked down at my clothes...which were soaked from all of the puddles mind you. She came over and started to look at the same piece of clothing that i was looking at. She gave me one glance and gave a little "please. you know i will look better in this than you" kind of laugh. Then she walked away.
Granted, i was hormonal from having a baby, but my thoughts went to everything that i "lacked" that she had.
When it comes to looks, women are so hard on themselves. The world puts this point of view of how we must look and act. To be tall, slender yet fit, DD sized cups, and always turned on. haha! Well, that is not the case.
Later on, God showed me that i should not compare myself to others. That girl's hair was dyed, her teeth were whitened, and other areas (that i won't mentioned) did not grow on their own. haha.
Anyway, (i didn't plan on typing all of this but it just came out haha) God made each one of us uniquely and wonderfully. If we all looked the same...what a boring world that would be.
We need to learn to NOT compare ourselves to others. Embrace who you are! Enjoy life...and love your life. It was given to you for a reason.
"I complained because i had no shoes - until i met a man who had no feet." No matter what our situation, there is usually someone worse off than we are. We don't see the whole big picture considering whom we are comparing ourselves to. You only see on the outside from a distance.
Comparing can ruin our self esteem and rob you of the contentment that God wants you to have.
Stop comparing yourself to real or fictitious people.
We all want more. Everywhere we go we are offered something newer, bigger, or better. Advertisers put a whole lot of money into this call to consume. They want to make us discontent with what we have, help us discover needs that we weren't aware of, and compel us to spend money.
There are so many times when i go out shopping, usually the grocery store, i go to get exactly what we need, and there, right beside the milk aisle, in Kroger is a clearance center. All kinds of stuff that are marked down. I have always tried using the excuse "If it's marked down then i can get it." More than half the time i browse through that section, i spot things that i never would have thought of that i would need. Sometimes i have the will power to walk away, sometimes i take a longer time browsing, and other times i leave the store with more than what was on my list. haha.
When we allow our "needs" to be determined by what we see in the mall, stores, or ads, we are letting our commercial culture influence what we buy as well as how we feel about what we already own.
There is nothing wrong with wanting things...as long as it doesn't make you discontent with what you have. It has been hard for Ryan and i lately. Going from no kids to 2 kids is a tough realization financially. We are strictly getting what we need. Which i am so thankful that God has met our needs. Especially around the holidays, there are so many crazy good deals going on! The other day, Ryan and i sat and looked through newspaper ads for the upcoming Black Friday. We eyed so many things that we wanted...but not necessarily needed.
(Try to take time and list all of the things that you have that you are thankful for. Don't take those things such as a home, clothes, food, electricity, heat, cars, netflix, internet, etc for granted.)
Being thankful for what you have leads to contentment.
It is so easy to get under the circumstances of our lives.
We tend to let our circumstances affect whether we are content or not. When things are going great, we are content. But when they change, discontentment can sneak in and try to take our joy away. I'm not saying that we should accept damaging circumstances and endure them. With those you should take bold actions to change those. But most of the time, we can learn to cultivate contentment despite crummy circumstances. All circumstances pass.
We all have circumstances that come up everyday to throw us off guard and potentially change our attitude and outlook on life. Try to embrace the circumstances (even when you don't like them) and make the best of them.
Discontentment can paralyze you from doing what you were meant to do. Be thankful for who you are, what you have, and through the tough times.
Thankfulness leads to contentment. Contentment leads to joy. And joy...well it's contagious!
I challenge you, as well as myself, to make a list of things that you are thankful for.
Things that you are thankful for about yourself.
Material and non material things that you have that you are thankful for.
And try to find the good in the midst of hard times. Be thankful during the tough times.
I will be doing this as well. I will be praying that you all will be able to reach a life full of joy, contentment, and thankfulness!