I remember lying on my bed staring up at the ornately detailed ceiling in our apartment in Italy. We had just gotten home from a beautiful Sunday afternoon walk around an Italian park, the children were napping and from all accounts, I was living the dream. The trouble was, I felt unbelievably discontent.
Our family had been assigned to lead a summer missions team of fifteen college students to Rome and we were three weeks into the trip. As many of you can attest, there comes a point, around week three of traveling anywhere, where even the yummiest of exotic food starts to taste a little slimy and the comforts of your own home begin to nag at your mind.
So there I was, serving the Lord with my handsome husband and precious children; we were having fun homeschooling, sharing Jesus alongside wonderfully sharp college students, and I was struggling with discontent. But nothing much was the matter!
I took out my journal to process what was going on in my heart…
I was jealous that a friend had what I didn’t have.
I was frustrated that we still couldn’t seem to get pregnant.
I was insecure with the way I looked after three weeks of pasta and gelato.
I was tired.
After a few minutes of journaling, the Lord prompted me to think on HIS character rather than my circumstances and as I adored God for who HE is, and how HE too can sympathize with my weaknesses and how HE satisfies the deep-seated needs of my soul…the discontent began to lift.
My jealousy started to feel ironed out by the provision of the Father.
My emptiness started to be filled with the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
My insecurity began feeling tempered by all that is true of my identity in Christ.
My weariness started to relax into His yoke that is easy.
And then He reminded me of a few guiding principles for contentment that a mentor had given me years ago. I had shoved them in my Bible, but they were originally written by E.B Pusey, an English pastor in the 1800’s who knew what it was to truly suffer. These rules had been helpful to him after losing his entire family and they are still helpful to me today as I deal with lesser struggles.
If you wish to gain contentment, we might try such rules as these:
- Allow thyself to complain of nothing, not even of the weather.
- Never picture thyself to thyself under any circumstances in which thou art not.
- Never compare thine own lot with that of another.
- Never allow thyself to dwell on the wish that this or that had been, or were, otherwise that it was, or is. God Almighty loves thee better and more wisely than thou dost thyself.
- Never dwell on the morrow. Remember that it is God’s, not thine. The heaviest part of sorrow often is to look forward to it.
“THE LORD WILL PROVIDE.”
-E. B. PUSEY
God’s character truly changed how I was feeling that day and I have gone back to that as the guiding force for handling discontenment in myself and in the kids’ hearts.
Are you wrestling with comparison and contentment today? How does the character of God satisfy your longings? I’d love to hear what you’re processing.
“Contentment isn’t a state of organization, a weight on the scale, a state of better: better kids, better marriage, better health, better house. Contentment is never a matter of circumstances; contentment is always a state of communion — a daily embracing of God. “-Ann Voskamp