It wasn’t the way I envisioned Jacob’s 18th birthday. A year ago, I would’ve expected the four of us to be together, celebrating around the table with grilled fare under a blue sky, with the “You are Loved” plate in front of our boy-to-man. But when the day came, Jo was up North and Jeff was out West. Jake and I were home with the dog. It rained most of the week, and the walls of the house are bare. The garage is filling with boxes. Sometimes special moments don’t look the way we expected. How can we be “happy” in our corner of the world with our unique circumstances? Better yet, what’s the secret to finding contentment?
My Plan B started with a reservation at a special restaurant, the kind where you go for special occasions. It was a mother-son kind of spot, where I could coach him in etiquette suited to 18 yr olds (A girl can try, can’t she?) and explain what Bouillabaisse is. We were seated in a corner where Jacob could survey the setting and realize he is loved and of great value to us. I saved up cash from book sales of Expectant so we could afford the lunch menu, and I presented him with a (really nice!) Timex watch while we waited for our bread. It was all so perfect.
Conversation drifted to our ears from beyond the papered walls and draped doorway. It came from the direction of a gaggle of silver-haired ladies, chattering about their Porsches and BMWs. Jacob was amused. They were celebrating a birthday too, but no one gave the matron of honor a Timex. Comparison is the enemy of contentment.
I’ve been reading in Philippians, where Paul says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
No matter what corner of the room we sit in or what our life consists of, we can be content. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Life’s journey includes being brought low and lifted high, times of plenty and times of need. In every circumstance, it is possible to be content.
When Paul shares the secret to being content, strength through Christ, he waits until just after describing 3 necessary choices. These simple steps are essential experiencing PEACE in all circumstances. I’m holding on to these basics.
3 Choices for Contentment
- The choice to rejoice (Philippians 4:4-7)
- The choice to think God’s thoughts (Philippians 4:8)
- The choice to walk God’s ways (Philippians 4:9)
After all, we choose to be content. Even in prosperity’s corner, discontentment can find a home. Wealth and possessions are no guarantee of contentment. They often lead to longings. If we’re to have the strength to be content in life in Christ, we have to choose an attitude of joy, a Christ-like thought life, and a godly pathway.
Our lunches were delicious. Jacob loved his Timex. The restaurant threw in a free birthday dessert. I think we might’ve been more grateful than the gaggle on the opposite side of the room 🙂 But only God knows that, right? Who are we to compare?
Are you listening to conversations around you, from the richer side of “the room,” and struggling to be content with your corner of life? Are you finding it hard to maintain an attitude of joy and thoughts like those Jesus would have? I know it’s not easy. It’s a choice every single day. Hey, its’ a choice every moment! But in Christ, we have all we need to be content in our little corner of the world.
What area of life do you struggle most to find contentment? I’m praying through several ideas for blog themes in upcoming months, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments about where and/or why contentment is hard to find.