Saturday, February 8, 2014

Learning to be content

"I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little."- Philippians 4:11-12

In this verse, Paul repeats himself saying, "I have learned." Interesting that this word is in the past tense, like he accomplished it. He says he has learned to be content in all situations. Wait what? He learned that? In the past? I've kind of always thought that we could try to think that way but we can't really learn it and we definitely can't accomplish that and be able to say "learned."

As mentioned previously, I'm reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This book is packed with wonderful truths. She talks about this verse and this idea that Paul says, "I have learned." She says, "To learn how to be grateful and happy, whether hands full or hands empty. That is a secret worth spending a life on learning." I am hit with this and keep going back to the verse in Philippians. So it is really possible to learn to be content? In every situation? 

Let's be honest, I'm great at being content in the easy. Thankful for mornings where I get to sleep in and eat breakfast. Thankful for school days where the kids are calm and focused. Willing to give gratitude when Will's hours are normal and flexible. But ALL circumstances? I'm not so great at being content when darkness starts creeping in, when death happens and illness or lets be honest, simply when true life really happens. 

I love what Ann Voskamp says about discontentment and how we can get rid of it.

"It is utterly pointless to try to wrench out the spikes of discontent. Because the habit of discontentment can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper. The sleek pin of gratitude."

We must fight discontentment by giving thanks for the small things. By practicing over and over again this idea of gratitude. By being specific and identifying joyful things in our life even if they are very tiny things. I'm starting today by thinking of those things, moments and people. Even if the things seem small, I'm listing them off in my head. the fluffy, white down comforter on my skin, bacon sizzling in the cast-iron skillet, rain bouncing off the aluminum siding. If I can focus on giving thanks for all the little things, I can slowly and deliberately fight the discontentment that creeps in. 

I realize I've included quite a few quotes from her book, but y'all, it's so good! I really encourage you to read it. I'm ending on this last quote that I read today because she says it so beautifully.

"God is not in need of magnifying by us so small, but the reverse. It's our lives that are little and we have falsely inflated self, and in thanks we decrease and the world returns right. I say thanks and I swell with Him, and I swell the world and He stirs me, joy all afoot."

Oh how lovely, swelling with Him. Our world would be so different if we were filled with joy and gratitude. Here's to changing our mindset, one tiny step at a time.

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