Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Secret of Being Content

I had a revelation today.

"I am content." 

This occurred to me while I was working hard. In someone else's house. A house much bigger than mine, filled with much nicer things. On a day when many of my writer friends are in St. Louis, Missouri having a blast at the national American Christian Fiction Writers' conference, a conference I dearly love to attend when I can. But these days there is barely enough money in the bank for necessities and certainly none for extravagances like a trip, even to a writing conference.

It would be easy to mope around and gripe and complain about the unfairness of life. "Why are some people rich while others aren't? Why do some people seem to have things so easy but others don't?" On and on. I admit there are days when I do ask those questions. I can whine right along with the best of 'em about my needs. My wants. My desires. Wah, wah, wah!

But lately I've come to truly understand---truly appreciate!---how blessed I am. How rich I am despite not having any money in the bank. Despite having old vehicles, too many bills, and mounting debt with two kids in college. Despite a dead yard and cracked foundation because of the severe drought. Despite disappointments in my writing career.

I've come to understand that I am content in spite of all that.

Now, don't mistake the word "content" as meaning I'm somehow complacent or apathetic. That I've given up and have just accepted my lot in life. That's not at all what I mean by contentment. I'm talking about an inner peace so tangible, so real that there is no other explanation other than God working in me, helping me get to this point. Helping me fully appreciate my husband, my sons, my home, my health, my job, my church, my friends, my family, my country, my world.

The Apostle Paul was content too. While he was in prison he wrote:

"...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 things through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)

Without God's strength, I doubt any of us could be content, especially sitting in prison. Paul wasn't always content. If you look at what he wrote he said he'd "learned" the secret of being content. Sometimes it takes years to learn something. I think most of our lives are spent learning things. Like how to be content. How to live at peace. How to be the person God created us to be. Often there are daily lessons, daily trials or pop quizzes, if you will. Sometimes I pass. Sometimes I fail. Lately, though, I'm passing more than I'm failing. Why?

Because I am content. 

I am not rich. I am not brilliant. I am not beautiful. I am not hugely talented. I am not hugely successful by the world's standards. But I am content.

And to me, that is far, far better than all those other things combined.

This week's Prayer Shout-Out countries are:
USA, India, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Indonesia


Anita said...

I love your honesty, Michelle. This is so true, and sometimes I feel very much the same way. God has given you many talents.

Michelle Shocklee said...

Thank you, Anita!! What a nice comment to come home to. =)
Blessings to you too!!