Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Contentment, A Discipline?

I am not sure I really want to write this post. It is a lesson that is not yet sealed in my heart or mind and one that haunts me on a fairly regular basis, much to my chagrin.

However, as I prayed about what to post today this is what The Lord laid on my heart, probably more for me than for any of you dear readers.

My 'one word' is a phrase...Grace-full Discipline. Can these two things co-exist? I hope so, or I am hooped right out of the starting gate!! :)

I am also part of a God-sized Dream Team and, honey, the dream in my heart is definitely GOD-sized, it's scares me to death and sometimes when I go back and read it I just want to run and hide from it.

Then I go around reading other people's ideas and dreams and lives and I can I phrase that nicely...put out, annoyed, grumbly, murmuring...d.i.s.c.o.n.t.e.n.t.e.d. (I love/hate Pinterest)

Why is THAT not me?

Is there anyone else out there who has conversations in their head that sound like this:

If only I had _______________ (insert current want) my living room would be perfect!
If only I could lose ____ more pounds I would be happy with my weight!
If only I could get passed________(insert issue) nothing would ever bother me again.

Unfortunately, these words and phrases enter my mind far too often but mostly they are more subtle because that wily old serpent is still up to his garden tricks so he knows how to get me where it hurts. He just gets me to look down.

I look down from the lofty seat that I have fashioned from my unrealistic expectations and ideals and declare, "I have not therefore I am not!"

I have tied up my identity and worth in those things or experiences that I may or may not have. And he whispers to me, "Your life would have been easier if you only had two children like that friend."
"Your life would have been easier if you had said NO when they asked you to take him."
"Kelly should have been more like that girl's husband, so stable and steady in his job, then you wouldn't be hurting for finances."
"Look over there, isn't she a lot thinner than you?"
"She is so much better at home management and home education than you are."

Then he proceeds to offer me up excuses as to why I cannot get to my dreams and goals and what do I do? More often than I care to admit, I lay down and die. I die to my dreams, I let my goals go and I sink into a sea of self-pity. There are plenty of other people swimming in that sea who will comfort me in my misery and tell me just to wait until the kids grow up or some other excuse as to why I am not going where I want.

But this is not the life my God has designed for me.

He is a God of, "Nothing is impossible."
He is a God of, "I can do all things..."
He is a God of, "More than you can ask or imagine!"
...and there is so much more.

So how do I discipline myself to be content. Remember that discipline means to train and correct and bring things into line.

On my kitchen shelf is a beautiful little print from Red Letter Words ( - go check them out, beautiful stuff there). It says this, "She knew that when her affections were set on things above then nothing could steal her joy."

There it is my friend. Romans says I need to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Jesus said in Matthew to set our hearts on things above, not this stuff that can so easily be taken and destroyed.

So, the bad news is, when I am discontent, grumbling, murmuring and complaining I am SINNING. It's an ugly word friends, but it is the truth.

The good news is that there is a remedy for sin and his name is Jesus.

I must train my mind to focus on my Saviour, to realize that each and every thing, gift, skill, relationship I possess is a gift given for a short time and then it will be gone. These things are mine to steward and take care of, they are my responsibility.

I am NOT very good at training myself to think this way. One thing I am doing to move forward in this discipline is to memorize scripture. God has laid Romans on my heart this year. So I am going to endeavour to chew on and study and take in Romans....all year long. Then lo and behold Ann Voskamp chooses Romans as the memorizing project for this year. I am all in.

Contentment comes from setting our affections where they belong. Contentment starts in my mind and works its way through to my soul and spirit. If I want to be transformed I will have to train my mind toward contentment, it will take some discipline and repentance for me to get there.

It needs to become a habit, something that I put on every day, gratitude and thanksgiving for what I have, who I am, where I am and where I am going.  Habits aren't easy to form, they take...tada!!...discipline.  However, I am perfectly delighted that the result will be good, more than I can ask or imagine.

Linked up today at:


Katharine said...

Lani this is so good, I'm glad you wrote this today! I have that same plaque on my desk(I have a pic of it on today's post)and I will admit to wishing I had been given something different when I took it out of my Allume bag...but God knew I needed this reminder, daily! I have been struggling with the same expectations: looking for my worth in others or things instead of in the God of the universe.
Thank you for linking up today at the What's Up cafe! Blessings!

Katharine said...

Oh no! I typed this big long comment, but I think I deleted it!I'm so glad you posted this! I have the same plaque and I struggle with those expectations...looking to people and things for worth instead of Him!
Thanks so much for linking todsay at the What's Up Cafe!

Beloved said...

Amen. I was struggling more with discouragement than the green-eyed monster, but still, this message about doubt and frustration resonated with me. Thank you for sharing your sweet heart, dreaming sister. May God continue to bless and keep you.
Peace and good,

Melanie Self said...

Bless you precious one....If we are all honest, we would confess that truly each one of us battles more with what we lack than boasting in our weaknesses so that Christ's power might be displayed! Believing God for each new step to be an affirmation of God's power being displayed in and through you. I rejoice in this answered prayer and your resolve toward the habit of being wholly content!!

Anonymous said...

"Contentment comes from setting our affections where they belong." Prepare to be TWEETED!
There is something so amazing when we are contented...yet is is o difficult to "get there". I have long suffered the consequences of an ungrateful heart...always looking to the greener side of the pasture, not bothering to ask "is it green because it is over a septic tank??"
I will praying praying right along with you this be at peace in Him and not always wanting more from this earth and all it's dangling, pretty charms!

Alecia Simersky said...

oh, discipline, how I'm not so good at you :)
It's so easy to get discouraged and jealous and all the "good things"you see happening to others and lose what good things you have got going for yourself. I'm glad too you wrote this, now you know your not alone with the green eyed monster :)

Christine Wright said...

Thank you for sharing...I know it's not always easy to do. This was beautiful though...I really felt like I was talking to a friend. So glad to be on the God-sized dream team together. : ) said...

NO could steel our joy!

Mary said...

Oh, so easy to get caught up in discontentment and so many other kinds of wrong thoughts! Such a need to think of the things of heaven. Thank you for your honesty, for sharing all this with us!