Unlocking Contentment

Our world is a world of ‘never enough’.  Whether it is with money, vehicles, houses, relationships, food or things, there is ‘never enough’.  We are surrounded by advertisements and commercials telling us we need more, we need better, we deserve more and better.  To be content is rare indeed.  It is a struggle… even for the Christian.

Contentment goes so much further than just with material things.  For me, it’s not about how many clothes I have or even how much money I have.  I have to learn to be content in other ways, which I am sure most of my single female readers can relate to. 

Today my pastor talked about contentment in a financially failing nation.  He gave us nine keys for dealing with our finances in today’s world.  As he read them to us, my mind wandered to what else they could be applied to, beyond monetary relevance alone.  As he read each one, I saw how they were very important for anyone striving to have contentment in their lives — in all areas.  For me, it is to be content without a ‘special someone’.

If you knew me well, as some of my readers do, you would know that I have wanted to have a ‘special someone’ for a long time.  At heart I am a hopeless romantic, and while I am trying to temper it now with practicality, my instinct is to revert back to wishing and pining for Mr. Knightley to come riding in.  Those hopes and dreams have been a part of me for a long time.  So I did some research.  Because of how my family goes about relationships, I won’t get into a serious relationship with a man (boyfriend-girlfriend) unless he clarifies that his intentions are more than simply ‘a good time’.  He must have a goal in pursuing me.  This levels the playing field right away.  Secondly, young men who want a serious relationship are usually established in their career and thinking about the future.  This means they are older.  According to the census records of the U.S., the average age of marriage for men these days is 27, and for women, 25.  This is due to that fact that men need to get established before they marry.

So what if I am single till I am 25?  I thought about it.  There is little chance I will be in a relationship before twenty, so if I am pining away now, what will I do for the next seven years?  Die?  No.  I need to learn to be content where I am.  No man would want an emotionally needy, weak-willed woman as his helpmeet anyway — he needs someone who can support and encourage him, someone who has learned and grown, not sat for twenty five years wishing he would come.  Contentment provides the freedom to work while waiting… never sacrificing the dream, just trading it in to Him who knows every dream and hope.

How do we unlock contentment in a heart that longs for something still far off?  There are nine keys given by my pastor which I have fit to apply to our situation as Christian women and girls.

1.  Spending: Control it.  Not money.  Emotional spending.  I have wasted emotions and time on people and situations that were hardly worth worrying over.  I have given away my heart when I had no valid reason to do so.  Control your heart’s expense of emotion and invest it instead with Christ, who will keep it until the right time.

2.  Debt:  Eliminate it.  Emotional attachments are a burden that weigh you down.  They alter your emotions, perspectives, and even your worldview.  These attachments hurt to break, whether by you or by the person you admire.  I know because I have felt that pain.  Yet they must be eliminated in order to walk free.

3.  Enough:  Learn the power of it.  Do you truly believe that Christ can satisfy?  I didn’t.  Sometimes I still don’t.  The key here is not to ‘surrender’ and then wait for the feeling of satisfaction to flood over you.  That is not how God works.  Believe that He will satisfy you, surrender to Him, and He will keep His word.  You may not ‘feel’ it at first, but He will be faithful if you trust Him.  He will be enough.

4.  Giving:  Enjoy the freedom of it.  Make this the time to serve.  You are free in contentment to use the time you have for God’s glory.  Down the road, whether you have a boyfriend or husband or no one at all, there will be times when you will need contentment again — in finances, in a less-than-perfect home, with young children.  Contentment is not just a one time thing.  Use it always as the support while you serve.

5.  Faith:  Defeat fear through it.  I have known the fear of being left behind, or unwanted, or that something must be the matter with me because no one even asked me out… is there ‘Avoid Me’ written on my forehead or something?  This is fear.  It is a lack of trust.  Have faith that God will work and He will.  He works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

6.  Remember:  Gain confidence through it.  God does not change over time, although people and circumstances do.  He is always the same, always faithful, always loving.  You’ve probably heard or even said that plenty of times — but the question is:  do you believe it?  He will be faithful to those who put their trust in Him and believe that He does have the power to do what He has done for the past 6,000 years.

7.  Wait:  Listen carefully through it.  Waiting is not easy, but as I have said in the past, it’s not a situation of ‘twiddling your thumbs’ as the world passes you by.  Be the waitress, constantly moving for Christ.  Be found working, not idling.  The damsel-in-distress concept is not the attitude a daughter of Christ should be aiming for.  You are not in distress.  If you are a princess of God, you do not act according to entitlement but according to the will of your King.  Don’t sit in the tower, tossing down your tresses at every passing peasant.  Knot up your hair and work while you wait.

8.  Forward:  Don’t be paralyzed.  Keep moving.  Step out in faith that God is leading and that He will guide your steps.  Let His word be the lamp to your feet and the light to your path (Psalm 119:105).  The longer you stand still, the stiffer you will become to God’s leading and voice.  Fear keeps you rigid.  Faith makes you strong.

9.  First Love:  Return to it.  It’s funny my pastor should bring this up, because I posted about it earlier this week.  For all areas of life, this is most important.  Without Christ as our First Love, other loves will rise to fill the void… money, possessions, houses, cars… or earthly ‘lovers’.  When He is first, all things fall into their rightful places and He can work for our good, because we are dependent upon Him for it.  We trust Him.

When we trust Him, we have the greatest key on the ring.  It opens a heart that otherwise would shut out the freedom that deep down, it longs for.  This freedom only comes with contentment.  The contented heart can be self-controlled, free, satisfied, giving, faithful, thoughtful, patient, ambitious and loving… because it is content in Christ, and Christ is all those things.

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2 Responses

  1. Phylicia –

    This is a great post – very thought provoking. You are wise beyond your years!

    I think the heart of the matter is to get our eyes on Christ – when I’m focused on me, I am less content than when I focus on Him. And let’s face it – He’s quite amazing!

  2. Phy…I don’t take the time to read your blog as much as I would like, but I’m so glad I did this morning. I missed Pastor’s message on Sunday, and this morning was going through our “leader’s notes” for home group. I am being challenged to really think about whether or not I am truly content. And your thoughts have challenged me further. The 9 keys DO apply to all areas…the Lord is encouraging me to keep striving to find my peace, strength, and contentment in Him only. Love you Phy.

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