For the last few months, our focus has been on weight loss. That’s usually the case with Thanksgiving, Christmas and especially New Years! Once all the figgy pudding is put aside we ask ourselves, how can I take off the weight? It’s tough, but I’ve witnessed many of you putting your plans into action, and I’m excited to share in your journey—so press on!
But this month, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I’d like to shift us in a slightly different direction on our journey to Live Well.
In my book The Mom Complex, I encourage women to “wade through the toys in search of the joys.” I urge them to search inside themselves, so that they can discover the path that God has placed their feet on. It’s important that we see that path today—not tomorrow, because God has already begun a work in us that’s waiting to be uncovered, dusted off and embraced.
We can start by putting aside the “ifs” and the “buts” today:
I’d be happier if this house was bigger…
I’d be happier if my stomach was tighter…
I’d be happier if only I could wear a size 7 again…
I have a great marriage, but my husband doesn’t take me out enough…
My kids are wonderful, but my two year old is going through a phase right now…
I used to spend time with the Lord, but lately I’m swamped for time…
There’s a proverb that says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” ~ Proverbs 23:7. So don’t think for a minute that the discouragement you wear in your heart won’t show on your face. Happiness is one cosmetic that’s God given and free for all. I want it—don’t you? Of course we do. I’d love to wear a smile 24/7 if I could, but even more than happiness itself, I want contentment–true joy with the peaceful knowledge that God is in control. Yes—I’ll still have dreams and hopes which will point me in one direction or the other, but ultimately when I lay my desire on the alter of worship where I trust God for my life, I’ll allow God’s grace to power each step. That’s what contentment does, and it’s learned by patience and practice. The apostle Paul said, “for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” ~ Philippians 4:11b, KJV
Let’s look at five ways to find contentment in your life today:
- Stop Looking Back
Remember Lot’s wife—otherwise known as the pillar of salt? Wow, I praise God that I’m not in her shoes, because I’ve also looked back a thousand times more than I should have. I’ve also looked to the side, and forward as well—it’s a wonder I don’t suffer neck pain!
Longing for the things of the past, or the things of the future is our way of saying, I’m not content with that which I have, or I don’t trust God with my future. Sodom was a sinful and corrupt place to be, and yet for lack of faith, Lot’s wife looked back. I’ve done the same as I’ve looked back on my sinful past wishing I could pick and choose certain things that I lost—like that 23-inch waist, or skin so tight it snapped into place.
But I’ve also been looking to the future with far too much anxiety, praying that God would open doors, clarify my path, give me direction, and make me skinny. The praying is good, but the problem is that I fail to leave the anxiety there, and I carry it with me instead. It’s like taking a trip to the cleaners then hauling your dirty laundry back home again. Doesn’t make much sense when you consider how fruitless it is.
I’ve come to learn that true contentment is when I can say, “I bring my petitions to you, Lord, lay them at Your feet, and trust that Your direction is best for my life,” with the faith to stand by those words.
Peter wisely guides us on the path to contentment when he writes, Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7
- Count your blessings
Is it quiet in the room? I hope so, because I want you to consider the blessings that you have in your life before you move on. Discouragement of where we are at this moment in life is a roadblock that too many of us are sitting there staring at, hoping that someone will shove it out of the way, so we can move on with our journey.
Live outward, instead of living an inward focused life. We accomplish this by letting go of the “I wants” for a focus on the “I haves.” Ever see a good cop show where the hero is stuck in traffic? What does he do? He gets out of the car and runs. He can sit there all day saying “I want this car to budge,” or he can use the legs that he has to get moving.
Look back—I know, I said not to, but we’re making an exception, just this once! Why look back? Because I want you to witness the fact that God is faithful. He has brought you this far, and He isn’t about to leave you where you are today. ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ~ Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
Let’s start counting those blessings now… Do you have children? A wonderful husband? A pantry full of food? A best friend? A good income? A talent? Sunshine on your face? Great cheekbones? Kind parents? Whatever it is that you can praise God for, do it right now. Go into a room by yourself if you want to, but release your discouragement by receiving the encouragement we find when we dwell on our blessings. Name them as you give thanks to the Lord. That’s when you’ll get past the roadblock and move on in your faith.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. ~ Psalm 34:8, NIV. Amen, Ladies? Oh yeah–Amen!!
- Delight in the Lord
Dictionary.com defines delight this way:
A high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture.
Have you ever met a hard-core golfer? I mean someone who really delights in the sport? I have, in fact I’ve met a few of them, including my brother in-law, Wayne. Wayne likes golf so much that he invested in the cute little shoes for discerning men who want to give their “feet a treat” on the course. And of course he also picked up graphite clubs, of which he had the handles regripped. He watches golf on television, owns several golf videos and computer games, plans every family vacation within 5 miles of a golf course, subscribes to the sports channel, practices at the driving range in summer and the golf dome in winter, has friends that also love golf, and last but not least–he pines for “Big Bertha,” I know…figure that one out, ladies!
Can I define delight any better than that? It would be tough, unless I started in about my friend May and her passion for shoes…
Now let me ask you, do you delight in the Lord? Do you seek to include Him in all that you do? Or is He just a channel that you turn to now and then?
If you haven’t already, then I pray that you will discover the joy that flows, when you delight in the fellowship of the Lord. It may take a bit of slowing down on your part to see it, but His glory is evident in our world, and it’s there to touch and to hold and delight in. Read a Psalm, watch the rain fall, take a walk and chat with Him, watch the clouds float by, hold a newborn, play with a ladybug, give a gift in His name, feel a breeze on your face, hear the sound of laughter, taste a chocolate melting on your tongue, enjoy the smell of your husband, watch a seed sprout in soil… discover Him in all that you do. And when you’re not discovering Him, seek Him out, because when you do—you’ll find Him. Seek Him and praise Him for all that He is; for God delights in the praise of His people.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
~ Psalm 37:4
- Embrace the Recipe that You Own
I’m going to go out on a limb and be stereo typical for a moment by saying that women—at least the ones I’ve met—have a tendency to compare themselves with others. Dare I also say often? You may not be the wealthiest, the thinnest, or the most attractive person you know—neither am I. But it’s also likely that there are less attractive, less successful, and less fortunate women then us too. It’s a fact of life. There will always be a prettier, sexier, thinner, and more successful woman than we are, but that’s ok. Let’s accept this fact and move on. Among the glitter, and glitz of Hollywood, there is one thing that it doesn’t posses, and that, my dear, is you. Embrace that.
There will never be another woman who owns the look, the personality and experiences that you do. Those ingredients make up the recipe that defines who you are, and it’s your gift from the Lord—own it. Originality is something to be desired, and you’ve got it girl!
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139:13-14
- Choose your Reaction
One of my favorite quotes comes from a line of the old hymn written by Heratio Spafford in 1873, “Whatever my lot Thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’”
It’s easy to be happy when we set our minds to it—to wear a smile in the face of sorrow. But expecting to have a Pollyanna view of life in every situation is unlikely. Ecclesiastes 3:4 reads, “[there’s] a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” We’ve all experienced moments like these, but the key to contentment is dependant on how we handle our grief in those times of mourning. After two major tragedies in his life, I doubt that Spafford was chipper when he wrote that song, but I don’t doubt for a minute that he was at peace with his life.
It’s not the things of this world that wound us; it’s our reaction to them. What’s painful to one is encouragement to another, that’s just how our emotions are wired. I lost a baby on Christmas day. In fact I’ve lost five to miscarriage, but this one was particularly painful since I spent boxing day being poked and prodded in the emergency room instead of living with the hope that next Christmas this baby would rest in our arms. I could have worn my grief for months after that, but instead I found contentment knowing that this child had the privilege of spending Christmas day with Jesus Himself, and that next Christmas rather than resting in my arms she’d be resting in His.
He gives us, “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah: 61:3
I’d like to encourage you to consider your reaction the next time you feel a blow. Forgot your keys? Late for a meeting? Didn’t get the job you wanted? The bills are piling up? Remember that your reaction to each situation—whether weak or strong—is the only thing that can hurt you, so choose it well. We can choose to cower in the face of life’s failures, or we can hand our pain over to God, receive from His grace, and live by those words–it is well, it is well with my soul…
©2008, Darlene Schacht
*We advise that you always consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program.