Sunday, November 25, 2012

What does Contentment Look Like? Some Common Myths

Am I content at home? I can say, irrevocably, YES. How did I arrive there? It wasn't easy. But you may have a different notion of what I mean by the word content, so let me elucidate further. Here are some myths about what contentment looks and feels like.

Myth #1: Contentment means I feel like I've died and gone to heaven.

NO, sorry, that won't happen until, well, I've died and gone to heaven. It doesn't mean everything in my life is the way I want it. Contentment consists of knowing the parameters of real life in an imperfect world where I will live imperfectly, with circumstances likewise imperfect, and accepting them. Peace comes when you know you are doing the right thing, brightening the corner where you are, and pleasing your Lord and Savior.

Paul speaks here. Philippians 4:11-1(ESV)
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Myth #2: Contentment at home means no conflicts.

My daughter recently said to me, "Sometimes it feels like our home is a battle ground." We had had an especially tough period with conflict and relational difficulties. I rubbed her back and said, "Well, hopefully most of the time it is a refuge. But there will be battles to be fought, and if we don't fight them, then problems can fester and get worse."

Myth #3: Contentment means I'm just waiting through this temporary season of my life until I can leave.

If you have little children in your home and you are salving yourself with the comforting thought that your present situation is only temporary, then you haven't really given you heart to your children. You are still looking for an escape plan. With true contentment comes an abiding joy, a desire to be home indefinitely, even after the children are grown and you have grandchildren to visit you. It doesn't mean you can't someday take a job or volunteer outside your home. But that shouldn't be a pie-in-the-sky vision for you as if then--and only then--you will get to fulfill your true potential and be happy. The grass is always greener on the other side. But, like the Three Billy Goats Gruff, you may find on your way to that green pasture on the other side,  an ogre lurking under the bridge, or poisonous weeds mingled in that luscious grass you so coveted.

Myth #4: Contentment means I'll settle for this season at home until I can finally follow MY real calling, to pursue MY gifts.

I think there is too much emphasis among some Christians about the need to identify one's spiritual gifts in order to pursue them. It can quickly become a poorly-veiled attempt at self-actualization. God doesn't give you gifts in order to feel more fulfilled. He gives them to you to serve others. Your calling IS to serve your family. Put your family first, serve them well, and your gifts will automatically be employed in the process, without any effort of your own. You will also find out what weaknesses you need to work on and strengthen. Family life is intended to be a sanctifying experience. It's not easy. Do hard things.

This may be hard teaching for you. There are times when we need to hear some hard teaching. I pray that the Holy Spirit will use it in your life to mould you into His likeness.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. -Titus 2 ESV

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