The reason I wrote this is not because I have mastered in being content in everything. But in opposite, I would like to share my struggling with contentment issue and what I have learned so far. I am too, still growing in this contentment area. But what encourages me the most is, as I learned the truth about God's words and applied it in my life, my world has started to achieve its balance again. I do not struggle as much as before anymore. And I hope you can experience the same :)
So this is what I am struggling about. I love flare skirts. I always love wearing dresses and skirts. But these months lately, I love them even more. I also love many colours. Mostly I love pastel colours such as blue, pink, yellow, mint green, and even white, grey, many more. So I found that one flare skirt with one colour was not enough. I started to order another skirt with the same model with another colour on and on [one day if I have taken pictures for all of it I will show you here and I bet it will be beautiful pictures :D] I kept reasoning with myself how 'useful' are all my flare skirts. I like it first because it suits my body figure. I have small waist but long torso. So wearing flare skirt (which its waits usually about 5 cm above belly button), can cover up both of my strength and weakness. It enhances the look of my small waist, but also shortened my torso so that my feet looks longer (better if I wear high heels). I also reasoned that flare skirt looks modest. So I can wear it when I teach the class, I can feel 'beautiful' without having to display too much of my skin. Those are good reasons, right? But God knocked on my heart and reveal the real truth inside me. This is not just a matter of I love to buy flare skirts, but this is a matter of discontentment and always finding what I have not enough (whoa..)
For information, I spend a lot to buy flare skirts. But I never spend more than I earn (which made another reason to reduce my guilty feeling about buying more flare skirts haha). But God showed me this: "Although you can buy it, doesn't mean you have to." Which is a very good principle that can be applied anywhere in our lives. Hey, although you can do sin, doesn't mean you have to sin. Although you can spend more time in playing game, doesn't mean that you have to play all the time. God is showing that the real power is not releasing our abilities in any way we can, but the real power in self-control. Like people who are strong is not people who show their anger to anyone they meet. The true strong people instead are those who can withhold their anger and still able to speak in gentle tone. That is self-control. That is gentleness, power under reserve. So my problem is the lack of control which take roots on discontentment. I never feel enough. I always want more. And biblically saying, that is my flesh which is at work.
You perhaps think, "Why are you taking this so seriously? C'mon it's just buying skirts.." No, I'm telling the truth God spoke to me. When I was 'on high' to buy flare skirts, I spent a lot of time searching on instagram for good skirt makers, I compared the prices, I consulted the materials (I even became smarter regarding clothing materials now), and many more. It has became distraction for me. It was time consuming and I can say also 'brain' consuming. For these few months, I constantly think about this. Some of you may don't understand why do I so obsessed with flare skirts, but just look at this discontentment issue generally. I believe each of us face it in different form. We perhaps have different struggle but the roots is still about discontentment. Some of us perhaps are discontent about their family situation, financially, and relationally. God wants us to be content in everything.
Apostle Paul said how he has learned to be content no matter what his situation is. "I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern of me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through God who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:10-13 [NIV]
How do I know that the root of my problem is discontentment? Because being discontent is feeling that we don't have enough. We don't have enough clothings to wear on, we don't have enough money, our families are not good enough, our achievements are not outstanding enough, and so on. So to be content is deciding to feel that we have enough right here right now. It is a matter of shifting our focus on what we already have rather than what we don't have. We are rich when we can be thankful for our present situation, but we will always be poor when we keep feeling as if we are lacking of anything. Paul had mastered contentment because he decided to be content wherever he was and whatever he had. Knowing this truth, I learn to be content in what I already have. Have the courage to say to yourself, "What I have is enough."
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul was writing to Timothy regarding the love of money. There were some people who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. Then Paul continued, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." -1 Timothy 6:6-10 [NIV]
Paul said, "Godliness + contentment = great gain [abundant gain]" I believe Paul was saying this because if our walk with God doesn't accompanied by contentment, our heart can easily be distracted with worldly things. For example, I spent some money for flare skirts. And since, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," (Matthew 6:21) then as I buy a lot of flare skirts, it became an indication that some parts of my hearts were in flare skirts. For some, it can be the money you have spent for your hobbies. Something we like, but we don't need. Something we feel like we don't have enough (If we want to be honest with ourselves, we can know what it is..) That is why, I realise the importance of nurturing contentment in my life. I know contentment while enhance my productivity as God's ambassador on earth. My mind becomes no longer occupied on worldly things, but on things for God's Kingdom. Imagine if each of God's children do the same! The Kingdom of God will be shown greatly through our lives :D
I learn to be content not just regarding what I have on my closet. But I learn to be content on the season where I am in now. The season of waiting. Building marriage and family has become a longing for many years in my heart. I was kind of expecting it. I don't want to be in a rush to it, but I also don't want to wait for too long neither. I have learned and prepared myself for marriage and family life for years. But God showed me that perhaps I can enter that season about three years from now. #deepsigh When I found out that plan, I was a bit of paralysed. I thought, "Then what am I going to do these three years? Is there anything I can still prepare?" But God gave me such a huge comfort. This singleness season is such a blessing from him that perhaps one day I am going to miss. It's really an opportunity where I can serve God freely without distractions and responsibilities which housewives and mothers have. So I learn to embrace it anyway. No matter how long I should wait, I need to be content. And I am sure, three years from now, I will become more mature woman to serve my future family.
So that's my story. What about you? Are you having discontentment in any area of our lives? Thank him for everything you now have and what you are now going through. It is just for a season. It will pass. For how long I do not know. And I learn to not care either about the timing. Why? Because God is always with me right here, right now, and for the future to come. As long as he accompanies me, all things will be well. I pray that your lives will be filled with contentment so that we can be more focused on Him as our source of contentment and not on worldly things or even other human beings.
"And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need to be self-sufficient (possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation)." -2 Corinthians 9:8 [AMP]
Being content is the very key to continuous happiness.
When Paul and Silas were in prison, they prayed and sang. It isn't troubles that make saints, but their response to troubles
Everything about which we are tempted to complain may be the very instrument whereby the Potter intends to shape His clay into the image of His Son -Elisabeth Elliot
God knows very well what happens to people when they are caught up in envy. What God really intends for us is that we would be content with who we are and what we have. Content with Him -Ron Mehl
When Christ becomes our central focus, contentment replaces our anxiety as well as our fears and insecurities -Charles Swindoll
Love and Blessings,
Some photos are in courtesy of Axioo and Jennifer Phelps Photography