Contentment is one of those ever-elusive, constantly discussed parts of "good Christianity", I think.
It's very trendy to be single but be all, "it's okay, I'm content in the Lord" or to say things like, "Man, you just need to learn to be content. Like Paul was in jail that one time." We always assume that only the super-Christians are actually content. Because it seems there is constantly something in the way of us being cool with where we are in life.
And, if you're anything like me, not being content feels like a big fat sin. And with that comes a lot of shame. "Why am I not content? What's wrong with me? Why can't I freakin' chill?"
Know what I'm talking about? We get this guilt complex about not being able to "rest in the Lord" (whatever that means), and spend way too much time focusing on how ungrateful we are and it can be very stressful.
In the past six months or so, when people have asked how I'm doing, I've told them very honestly that I'm taking life one day at a time. Usually with a little giggle, and a devil-may-care hair toss, but the root of that phrase goes deep. There was a time when it really did take every grace from God for me to make it from sunrise to sunset. And even though I've got my swag back now, I still focus on taking life just one day at a time. Each day has enough troubles of its own, am I right?
Here are the perks of taking life on a day-to-day basis:
1) Is some looming future event stressing me the H out? Yes. Has that event arrived as of today? No. Can I live with the knowledge of that event today? Totally. So I don't have to worry about three months from now. Great.
2) A bad day is just that-- a bad day. A singular 24-hour period. Then I'll go to bed and wake up and get to start all over on a clean slate.
3) It's a lot easier to spot and appreciate little goodies in a day, when you treat that day like your first and last. Like my favorite customer coming to say hi, or frosted heart cookies at Provence.
Also, this: My very favorite phrase, It is what it is, has secret powers. By that I mean, I've been saying it to myself and out loud a whole lot. Sometimes flippantly, sometimes as a lifeline, but a whole lot regardless. And I think the words have somehow sunk into my soul and are actually starting to shape my responses. I am learning to shake it off, shake it off (to borrow a phrase). Acceptance brings an amazing amount of freedom.
The other day, I was talking to my friend Aaron about our dailys, and he asked how life was. "Great," I said. "It's beautiful. I'm not where I want to be, exactly, but I'm okay with where I'm at."
He nodded his head, "Man, being content is such a huge blessing. What a cool place to be."
And I was like, WAIT. WHAT. I'm content?? This is what being content is? I DID IT?!
Yes. Praise and hallelujah, yes. The best part is, I did exactly nothing. Jesus, in all His grace and kindness, snuck into my fear and discontent and antsy itches and taught my soul to breathe deeply. He gave me lots of dreams, while at the same time training me to be present, one day at a time.
The circumstances that were freaking me out one, three, and six months ago haven't changed. Life is marching forward and I'm still very much trying to figure it all out. But I am, for the first time in a long time, settled. Not settled in a trapped way. I have a ton of plans and a ton of dreams and my feet are bouncing with anticipation. The horizon is glowing with promise. But it's not here yet, and I'm okay to wait. There is much to learn and grow in right in front of me, and buckets of goodness to enjoy. No need to study the future forecast with a furrowed brow, right?
By the grace of God, I have stumbled into true contentment. It won't last forever, because life comes in seasons and lessons have to be relearned always. But I'm soaking it up now, and reveling in the sweetness. And it feels GOOD, you guys.