The other night, I made myself a cup of tea, took a hot bath, and opened up a message by Shauna Niequist on my phone. If you don’t know who Shauna is, it would be my pleasure to tell all about her. Shauna is my hero. She is the kind of writer I want to be, the kind of person who values people over perfection, and who is honest in all she does. She’s an author, a wife, a mom, a storyteller and often, she speaks at Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois. Obviously I live in Oklahoma, but thanks to the kind people of Willow Creek Community, they post all of their messages online. (Thanks, WC!!)
The other night, I clicked on her most recent message over Psalm 16 and contentment. I struggle with contentment, on a daily, maybe even hourly basis. I am the most non-content person; always looking for change, newness, better, more. I’m never content with what I have, who I am, who God is. Never is a strong phrase and maybe this is getting a little too dramatic but I am honestly not content with where I am. And that is hard for me to admit. I don’t like admitting that I don’t like where I am for two reasons.
Reason number one, because now we have to talk about it. I am an extrovert, through and through. I love people. I love talking to people, laughing with them, eating with them, connecting with them. I consistently invite people over, and when I say the door is always open, I mean the door is always open. I could barely know you, and if you want to have dinner at my house or borrow my vacuum, or drink all my coffee, more power to you. I love it. I, however, do not like to talk about myself. Sure I love to discuss books, the newest best British tv, makeup, and my marriage, but ask me about how I am doing, like really, how am I doing? How do you feel in this season? I would sooner talk about politics or the stock market or why Justin Bieber needs a father figure in his life rather than speak about me and my season of life. Because here is the thing: inside, I am discontent. I’m stressed out, and worried, and yearning for a different season. I want more money, and not to be financially tight. I want to be finished with school and I want to travel. I want a job I am passionate about, preferably that pays more than I make right now. I want to write a book, be an author, use writing as a career. I want to be something different, somewhere different, doing something different.
The second reason: Admitting that I am not content means that I am not grateful for the life God has given me. And that is so devastating to me. God has given me a beautiful life, an amazing, loving husband, a beautiful home, a wonderful family, and a job. He has blessed Tucker and I with his career, and we have running water and food in our fridge. I have a home, I’m healthy, and I have a good God. So why is that not enough for me? Shauna said this in her message “If you invest yourself deeply in what is, instead of distracting yourself with what is not, or what could be, or what might be happening somewhere else; your life will be infinitely richer because the system is rigged that way. There will always be more joy in your life if you’re present to what is, than if you live with your face pressed up to the glass of someone else’s life.” That hit me in my heart. I spend so much of my time wishing I was in a different place: in a better job, a new city to explore, finished with school, with a career. I spend so much time wishing away the life God has given me today. How ungrateful. How selfish to do to a God who gave the thing He loves most, his perfect son, to save my soul. To give me a life. How unworthy am I?
A few weeks ago, my discontent was at an all time high. I was a little frustrated (that’s a nice way of putting it–if I am being completely honest, I was downright furious). I had hit a roadblock while trying to return to school, and the odds of me overcoming that block were slim to none. I was upset, and angry because I felt that every good thing I tried to accomplish had not worked out so far. I didn’t get the $12/hr job that I wanted, I was unable to return to school, and I was stressed and frustrated about my future. In that moment, I was envious of everyone around me. Anyone who had a good job, a career, a degree, to travel, all of them received my silent wrath because I was stuck. Stuck in a money-less, degree-less, travel-less hole. In my fury, I told my husband that I didn’t think God cared about me at all. I honestly felt like I had been left on the outside of a club, where everyone was receiving God’s blessing and I was not. I felt unloved and insecure.
Because God is such a good God, the very next day I received a slew of links, messages, articles, and quotes, literally all day, of words. Out of blue, on twitter, on facebook, in texts, in books. All day long, God reminded that my season, was just a season. That I didn’t have to have it all figured out, because that wasn’t my job. I wasn’t forgotten, I was loved. Deeply and intimately. That I didn’t need to have money, or a degree to be content. I needed Jesus, and only Jesus.
I’m practicing contentment. I’m practicing honesty, and the hard truth about myself. I’m admitting that I am not content with where I am, and that I need God to help me get to that place. I’m choosing to believe in hope and grace, and to choose life where I am right now. I am choosing life in this season- this season of uncertainty. I am choosing to believe in the good God I have and to believe that He works for my good, every time, no conditions.
So if you ask me how I am doing, really how am I doing, I may try to divert the conversation. I may even ignore you (not really–I’m not rude :), and then I’ll remember Shauna, her wise words, her message and this post, and I’ll smile, and say “I’m okay. I’m not where I want to be just yet, but I am okay with that. Or at least I will be.” 🙂
P.S. I received an email yesterday that I am able to return to school and graduate (with my A.A.) this semester. Literally, a miracle had to happen for me to be able to return. Luckily, I know Someone. 🙂
***If you would like to learn more about Shauna and her wonderful self, visit her website at http://www.shaunaniequist.com. Also, if you would to watch the message I referred to in this post: click here.