I have spent years struggling with contentment. I find myself sorting through the emotions: One pile of bad attitudes, anger, and resentment...sin issues that I need to change. The other pile of desires for my life and myself: Good desires, wholesome longings, worthy goals. But due to circumstances outside of me, these dreams have not come to fruition. I can deal with the first pile. They are obviously wrong and I obviously need to address them. The second pile confuses me, frustrates me, and leaves me begging for a remedy; a plan of attack. I have had a word doc saved literally for years now that I open from time to time and write, edit, read, re-write....It's all about my struggle with contentment. Or, really my fight for JOY. I don't just want to be content with my life...I want to LOVE it, REJOICE in it, be OVERWHELMED by its BEAUTY. This ever-changing story is me pouring my heart out honestly: every thought both good and bad, everything I am unhappy with, every person or circumstance I blame. It's all there. And slowly, slowly, slowly I am making sense of it. It's been interesting to see this story evolve that I am, or maybe I should say God is writing...I'm just the hands on the key board: the patient in surgery, having this cancer named "discontentment" purged from me by the Great Physician.
This is how I left said story most recently (please excuse my botchery of grammar etc.):
My life isn't exactly what I would have chosen it to be. There is a lot that I would change if I could. But, I have found the importance; the absolute necessity of fighting for joy. If it's not something that you are being intentional over then too often will you find yourself sinking quietly into discontentment and bitterness. It's not a sudden thing--at least it isn't for me. It's slow and silent and one day you wake up and realize that you have been miserable for months. I don't want that. I don't want to look back at months and years of potential happiness wasted on useless, ugly discontent.
But that is my story. Joy: It's an ever constant battle for me. Happiness: It doesn't come naturally to me. I never realized this until recent years. I suppose that would be because contentment, peace, and joy are not difficult to find when your life is easy and picture perfect. But, once things go wrong, once your entire world is turned upside down, you lose everything that joy & happiness were associated with.....the result is that joy & happiness are lost also. They are something that you took for granted and now that they are gone you realize in frantic state just how precious something as simple as happiness is and how willing you are to desperately fight for it.
It has taken years of baby steps and small victories to be where I am at today. Not that I have conquered the dragon or taken joy captive. I don't believe that's the point. It IS the constant battle: the tears, the prayers, the struggling every waking moment to not let yourself be swallowed up by all that's wrong with the world <---that is the proof of the value of joy. Happiness was handed to me on a silver platter when I was young. I didn't appreciate it and I underestimated it's worth and for a while I lost it because I didn't treasure it.
My enemy is discontentment all rooted in anger towards my father and my resentment of having to work. I always these thoughts nagging on my mind:
If you had a decent father who provided for your family then you wouldn't have had to work since you were 16. You wouldn't be working a full time job now. You would be able to pursue all of the wonderful domestic things your heart aches and longs to do. You could bake and cook wholesome meals for your family. You could devote more time to learning the skills that interest you. You would be able to stay on top of things at home more. You could volunteer for 4kids every week. You could spend more quality time with your family. Your mom wouldn't have to work and could be at home more. Everyone could be home together for dinner every night. You wouldn't have to spend 40 hours a week doing something that is so foreign to you so against everything that you are.
That is why it is a constant war within me. In so many ways, I want the exact opposite of what I have. And, it's messy and tangled and confusing because so much of what I want is good and worthy. But, I need to tell myself over and over and over again that while it is right for me to desire these things, I must find the joy and the satisfaction in what has been handed to me during this season of my life. I know that God is good. I know he delights in blessing me. I know that if I do not allow myself to be blinded by discontent, I will see that my life is rich & fully blessed. That it is overflowing with mercy, goodness, love....and all of it undeserved.
The battle is difficult, but the prize is worth it. When I realized how miserable I was and began my quest for joy I realized how precious it is. I love it, I fight for it constantly, I know & value its worth. God has helped me to find an exuberant & overflowing love of so many things. I find peace and contentment in the smallest details of life. The world is a beautiful place; the people in it are beautiful. I can be and am learning to be happy. And, while I still and maybe always will need to fight for it in some areas of my life, those areas are growing smaller as happiness comes more naturally to me. Today my heart smiles. My joy is increasing at the expense of bitterness, hurt, victimizing myself, and anger.
Thankful for His sanctifying grace,