For I have learned Whatever state I am in to be content. ~ Paul
These past months have ranked in the top of my most difficult season of life. And Although I don't typically make a formal New Year's Commitment... Because I know I will fail, and forget and beat myself up relentlessly for the 11 months left in the year, I typically decline from making such proclamations. This year a theme started reoccurring in my brain. I think it may have had to do with a restlessness that I found to be in my Spirit.
The Theme has continued to pop up over and over. In my heart. In the Word. In conversations. Posts.. Etc...
Only the very Mature have learned how to be content with whatever life deals them. Only the most advanced in their faith know how to have joy in the middle of constant suffering. I have a friend like this. He's not going to live many more years, unless God heals him miraculously. And yet he is positive and joyful and encouraging every time I see him. He doesn't even want people to know of his condition. Because he doesn't want to be defined by his terminal illness.
He blesses me.
And I know I want to be that person one day.
When the Scripture says... "I have learned" it means one has accomplished it. Like I have learned the alphabet. To say I have learned implies I am consistently in a state of contentedness.
But me? No, I'm just learning how to be content.
So instead of just deciding that this is the year I'm going to be content, I have been processing how to be content. What does contentment look like?
It's a battle in this world of "me first" and "more" to live with what we've been given with joyful hearts.
It's so easy to look across the fence and see something we perceive will finally make us fulfilled. So we compare our dull non eventful and maybe even painful life with the highlights of our neighbor or face book friend, family member or maybe even best friend.
It's easy to spot someone who lacks contentment but harder to see in ourselves.
This is my plan. Not a Resolution of a year long plan but a life long one.
1. Live more Gratefully. To do this I really must pause and recount the gifts I have been given. The people in my life. The job I have. The things I have been entrusted with.
2. Remembering... Life. Is. A. Gift. I have witnessed this first hand this winter. Life is not guaranteed. Every breath I take is a gift. What will I do with today? What if it's my last?
3. I am given the family, the talent, and the place I am in right now, at this season, for a reason. I will give an account for this. I must be intentional about honoring these gifts.
4. I will choose to see the positive side of adverse circumstances.. that doesn't mean I don't acknowledge pain, it means I will determine to dwell on what God can do in the middle of whatever I face.
5. I will not let fear overtake me. In a world of conflict and horrible news stories I will fall on the one who has promised to be with me and take me one day to the place I call home.
6. I will not let the weather give me an excuse to be ugly and unkind. I will also remember to thank God for the seasons as he brings them to pass.
7. I will determine to always rejoice with others when they are rejoicing, even if I do not ever get the very thing they are rejoicing over.
8. I will be more intentional with how and why I'm spending money. Is it because of lack of something deeper that drives me to fill that hole with a desire to obtain more? What is the motive of having more...even if it's a good buy?
9. I will learn from people around the world who have much less than I do. I will give out of what I have been given.
10. I will learn to be patient in affliction. Because honestly, it grows us up faster and deeper than anything else. Affliction, when it comes, can be profitable for teaching contentment. If I choose to allow God to work in my heart in those seasons, Instead of complaining and falling into a trap of self pity, I will begin to learn the secrets of contentment in all things.
I am on a journey.
To live life like a follower of the one who gives ultimate joy, to a world who desperately needs encouragement.
Let it begin with me.
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me ~ Philippians