Thursday, June 30, 2011

Battle for Contentment

Mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are. (Webster)
Strong States:
1) a perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed
2) sufficiency of the necessities of life
3) a mind contented with its lot 

Gulp.... I've never been satisfied with the way things are. In fact, I'll be honest, I am rarely satisfied with anything. Sad, but true statement. I am a recovering perfectionist after all  - in my mind nothing is ever perfect so there are always things to change in every realm of my life. When I was 6 I went to the Rogue Valley musical and told my momma I was going to play the violin because it played such  beautiful music - I thought all about it and when I was in 4th grade I started lessons and played through my college years.
When I was 6 I also told my momma I wanted a horse. She mistakenly said if I saved enough money then I could buy one - oh the hopes and dreams I gained by that one statement. So, I saved and saved and rolled newspapers and babysat and finally leased a horse in 6th grade. By 8th grade I had saved the 1,500 dollars to buy my beloved horse. That sweet horse came with me to  Texas and is living out a lavished retirement in McKinney as a pasture ornament. From a small child I always had plans - or made plans or dreamed of plans. The word impossible wasn't in my vocabulary.

Think about it, as little  girls we dream about our prince charming, college, babies, homes, more  babies, new cars, etc. Then we pursue those dreams.  I've got my prince, we live in a great castle, with two little princes and a princess, we drive a mini-carriage and often play out on the lawn until sunset. My life is wonderful yet I'm still discontent - my whole life contentment has been a goal ahead of me instead of a state of mind.  I have accomplished, with the Lord's blessing and provision, all that I desired and now I sit and wonder - what is next?  Even writing that out makes me feel totally selfish - I mean those are great goals but David Livingston greatest dream was to bring the name of Christ to Africa and persevered amidst drought and plague and disease. Now that is  kingdom goal! I can't  remember dreaming about my life past babies? Now I'm there and am struggling with discontentment and purposful vision (aside from raising great godly kids which is my primary focus)? I want more babies or I want to move or I want to ........ (fill in the blank). I think the Lord,  in this still quiet evening, is bringing me to a place where I am content with the  earthly life he has bestowed upon me. The vision God is painting for me weaves in a heart of contentment that focus intently on eternal life goals - those David Livingston or Charles Mueller type dreams that reach beyond today and impact eternity.

I am on a sweet yet hard journey with God, digging into the crevices of my soul, asking God why he made me with such a drive to overcome the next challenge, why He created me with this idea of perfection even being attainable? Then I'm asking  - what is next? What will God do with that crazy God given personality that will humbly impact the kingdom of God for all of eternity?  In the scriptures, I've been journaling and re-reading the life of Paul - you know the Apostle who said while in prison, that he could be content in all circumstances? He also wrote,  ... I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 
 ~ 2 Corinthians 12:10 ~

God made me with a determined personality, but he also made me weak. It is through these weaknesses that God will be  glorified. So, in my weakness of discontentment and perfectionism and lack of control,  I'm memorizing, re-thinking, slowing down, practicing..... Contentment. 

Here are a few things I've been working on the month of June to work on contentment:
  • Driving in the slow lane and going the speed limit (which means leaving with 5-10 minutes to spare incase the train comes and thus arriving early to places).
  • Removing all expectations and just enjoying the journey (mainly in our trip to Colorado which was a great get my hands dirty lesson). We had no agenda - no reserved hotel rooms or scheduled attractions - yikes!
  • Stopping in the middle of tasks and leaving them undone (crazy I know) and choosing not to think about it. Instead I'll grab a book and my kiddo's and spend some one on 3 time reading together.
  • Playing on the floor with my kids for a fixed period of time without any goal or purpose on educating or cleaning. I am so bad about turning a fun little thing into a school lesson that omits the playing and leads to cleaning up.
  • Not doing school - I look at summer as a great time to get ahead in school work for next year, after all you don't want to forget anything. We are working on Math this summer, but aside from that I'm choosing (nail bite!) not to push anything else formally. When I get the bug to grab a workbook or handwriting page I grab a book and read to them instead. 
  • Putting Abby to bed and doing the whole process of cuddles and Goodnight Moon and singing and praying. Slowing down time and savoring the moments really helps me with contentment.
  • Contrary to above, I'm working on not biting my fingernails - a bad habit I do when anxious.
Areas brought to light :
  • Not planning ahead or dreaming of long term plans which leads me to be unhappy with where I am at this exact moment.
  • Pestering my husband about adopting a child
  • Praying diligently when times of discontentment come
  • Encouraging my husband verbally and giving him a lot more hugs and smiles and touches which force me to slow down and forget my agenda.
In the Quiet morning or evenings I am content, when I journal I am content, when I rest and meditate on scripture or sit with my children on the floor, I am content. I am filled with Joy. 

I've noticed when the busy and hurried and unknown part of life comes at me -- I become anxious and that supernatural joy dissipates. In the hurried I loose sight of my Savior and the plans He has for my life. I get caught in the trap of planning out my future and missing out on the joy of today. 

As a recovering perfectionist, who has spent most of her life wounded by a discontented spirit - I'm choosing joy and contentment in this place called Today.

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