Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Choosing Contentment {Advent Day 2)

Isn't it funny how, when God starts convicting your heart about something, He comes at you from several directions at once?

I awakened early yesterday morning, did twenty minutes on the elliptical trainer while listening to a sermon online and catching up on my Bible reading plan, then logged off and didn't check social media ONCE until my alarm went off at 8pm, giving me permission to check my newsfeeds.  I enjoyed my kids, took the oldest for a quick run to Wal-Mart and took special notice of his deepening voice and his daily-growing height as we walked together, and went to bed proud of my bad self.

Except I didn't go to bed.  Well, at least not on the first attempt.  One delay after another and the next thing you know I was turning in at 11:30, which nixed any willpower I had to get up at 5:30 and work out.

I didn't even make it 24 hours, y'all.

So I got up as usual today.  I resisted the urge to snark when a kid copped a 'tude and worked through the day's lessons with my three homeschoolers.  At lunch I sat down and began to scroll...
WAIT just one darn second.
Scroll?  Didn't I set an alarm for 8pm to prevent this very thing?
I suck, y'all.  I totally suck at self-discipline.
I turned off my phone in disgust and sighed.  My youngest son walked up to me to tell me something and I made it a point to look him in the eye and smile, to kiss his beautiful, full lips before he walked away with a grin, and remind myself that I am not going back.  No way.

After our school day ended I sat down for some Bible Study time and turned on a podcast.  It was by Priscilla Shirer and, let me tell you, it was no accident that it is what I happened upon today. The title of the podcast is Surprising Satisfied and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

She talked about our terrible habit of striving, of always hurrying through life.  Especially during hard seasons. She said, "We sleepwalk through now in order to race to the next thing."
I am so guilty of this, on an almost daily basis!

In the years my husband was in medical training, I "couldn't wait" until he got out of school.  Then I "couldn't wait" until he was out of residency.  I "couldn't wait" to have kids.  Then I "couldn't wait" to have more kids!  Then I "couldn't wait" until he had a real job that actually paid all of our bills.  I "couldn't wait" til my kids were potty trained.

Do you see a pattern here?  Even in the midst of the sweetest seasons of my life, I always wanted more...the next good thing.  So she challenged me.  She said I need to resolve to:
1.  Embrace the current season of my life.  That includes the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It includes the stuff that I was sure I "didn't sign up for" but that God apparently signed me up for because He filters everything through his big, loving hands.
2.  Maximize the time in this season.  Look my children in the eye, even when they are angry or seem to be rejecting everything I am trying to teach them.  Appreciate what makes them who they are.  Love my husband with all that I am.  Let the things that I have had to put on the backburner stay there until God brings them out to the front.
3.  Resist the urge to hurry through the hard times or circumvent the journey altogether.  Eucharisteo:  Ann Voskamp's sweet reminder that, whether in the easy or hard we are told over and over in Scripture to live a lifestyle of thanksgiving.  There is a reason for everything.  Hard has a purpose.  Without suffering we are a weak-kneed and useless people.  (And so are our children...but that is a whole other post!)
4.  Love with a spirit of contentment.  She defined contentment in a way that I have never heard before.  "Sufficiency that comes from the Holy Spirit."  It all boils down to trust, doesn't it?  Trust in the sovereignty of God, trust in the goodness of God, trust that he sees and knows and is using every circumstance, both good and hard, to conform me (or my family) to the likeness of His Son.  It is being calm, not striving to "just get through the day."  It is stopping and looking around for reminders that He is still at work just as He has always been.  He never sleeps, nor does he slumber.

I don't want to miss out on God.  I don't want to miss out on the here and now with my family.  I want to be a woman who is not blindsided by difficulty and ends up in the fetal position out of sheer panic.  That is no measure of faith.  I want to stand firm in the face of the storm, to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and let Him fight the battles instead of trying to wrench the sword out of His hand.  After all, that sword is way too heavy for me.

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