Im just going to come right out and say it. Ive been a victim of comparison lately and it was stealing my joy. I felt like it was suffocating me. As I have shared, this past year has been tough. So many times of worry and stress for our family. But, as I have also shared, its also been a time when we have been able to see God working in our lives. We have never had a moment when our needs have not been met. In fact, our needs have been met so obviously and fully that the hand of the Lord couldnt be denied. So how in the world, could I not be content??
Possibly the hardest aspect of dealing with chronic health issues is not being able to do things I want to do. I get on facebook and I see my peers going here and there and doing this and that and I feel jealous. What I wouldnt give for a week in paradise with my mate!? How exciting does a family vacation sound?! But, I cant work, and there is no money for that. And the guilt spiral starts. And before I realize it, im neck deep in self pity.
But, then, last week, I was talking to one of these acquaintances, an individual that is always going and doing and having fun; an individual that I have felt jealous of on more than one occasion. On the outside, they appeared to have the whole package. Good job, great family, cute kids…but as we chatted, it became painfully obvious how unhappy they were. Working non stop and only making enough to cover the basics, living off of credit and just feeling empty and unloved. They talked about how much they craved emotional attention from their spouse and how unappreciated they felt both at home and at work. They talked of stress and depression and emptiness. Wow. If that doesnt make you stop and think. Things arent always what they seem on the outside.
Sure, I know this, but some times I need to be reminded. Its hard, when you are in a time of uncertainty and hardship, to stop and just relish in the things you are blessed with. Its hard to distinguish the needs from the wants and the desires from the necessity.
When I do stop to regain my focus, I realize, that although things have been financially sticky, not one bill has gone unpaid. Our debt is minimal. My spouse and I are connected and our relationship is strong. I get to be home with my kids every day. Guys, I truly have it made.
I think we all go through periods of discontent. Thats human nature. But its so important to regain perspective. Contentment is a daily(sometimes hourly) choice. I can wallow in self pity or I can use what I have to be as intentional as I can be. Mindset is crucial. Its cliche, but the grass isnt always greener on the other side. And its becoming painfully obvious that trials help us grow. There are days that I long for respite. Some stitch of ease and normalcy. A moment to breathe and regroup. But, I can say with honesty, that despite the trials and hardships, I am so thankful. I have grown, I am growing. My love for my spouse has grown. My love for my children is deeper. My love for myself is evolving. One might say, Im learning to love the skin Im in! Its good. Its all so good.
Sometimes, discontent, is a sign that its time for change. Darren and I have felt the pull of the Spirit strongly, as of late, with a very clear message. God cannot use you if you remain in a situation that does not allow for healthy stewardship. Darren and I have felt that our current situation was not modeling a situation where we were being good stewards. We dont have time to invest in others. Our income didnt allow us to invest in others, even in minute ways. We are not usable in this state. We have been in constant prayer and consideration as to what changes we could make. We felt we were being pulled towards change, but not exactly sure how or what to change. We are still earnestly seeking those answers. I have a job offer on the table, that fits so well with our family and will provide some needed income. The best part is, it allows me to continue to stay home with the kids. This is truly a divine answer to prayer! Im hoping to sign on the dotted line next week! Please pray that the final details work out smoothly! There are a few other things in the works and I would love some prayer!!
I encourage you friends, if you are feeling the weight of discontent, to remember, that you are exactly where you are for a purpose. Some days, that purpose is not clear and its so easy to fall into a place of discontent, or to let jealously take up residence in our hearts. Take some time and meditate on the blessings. Choose where your focus will lie. Find time to take a deep breath and re-center. Consider, if the discontent may be a prod for change.
“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 a hope and a future. Then you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13