I am quite easily discontented. Some of the areas I personally struggle with contentment are in wanting more “stuff”, being discontent with my physical appearance, and being discontent with my circumstances. I know many of my friends who struggle with contentment too. It seems to be a stronghold for many women. One of my biggest struggles is comparing my life with those around me. It is poisonous for me to do such a thing. I have often compared my marriage to another marriage or my home to another home. It has left me feeling defeated, discontent, and guilty.
Last night I had a vision as I pondered the old saying, “the grass is greener on the other side”. Now that spring has arrived, we have been working in our yard and garden. If you tend a garden or a yard you know that it is hard work. You might get bug bites, you will certainly sweat, and you will get really dirty. I sometimes gaze longingly at some of our neighbors yards and think, “How dreamy. I want that front yard!”. The rose bushes are trimmed to perfection and the grass is luscious and green. Do I really want that front yard? Am I working my butt off to make my yard look lovely like they are, or spending the time and money to care for it?
It is easy to look around and think the grass is greener on the other side without realizing that to get green grass you gotta work for it. Green grass takes time, patience, preparation, and investment. Good marriages do not magically happen. Both parties work at communication, respect, love, compromise, and invest time and energy into one another. Deeply rooted faith does not happen overnight. Contentment and joy takes prayer, meditation on truths, and constant uprooting of old thoughts and replacing them with new thoughts based on truth. It is kind of like tending a garden. Clearing out spaces for the plants to grow, ripping out those weeds that choke the and steal the water and nutrients, and patiently waiting for the harvest. The truest test of contentment is when the rain or storm comes. If someone can stay content, even after such disaster, a beautiful mystery is unfolding in the heart.
Contentment is something I am practicing. I long to be content in every circumstance I am placed in and able to glean the value and lesson out of each hardship or joy. I desire to find contentment in my home, my family, and my relationships that God has given me right now. I hope I will be able to be content as I age and my body slowly begins to give out. I find it beautiful when women age gracefully and with gratitude, find peace in the work God has given them, and can freely rejoice with those who are celebrating and mourn with those who are mourning. To me, that is a well-tended heart, with good rich soil and many years of joyful toil.
“Now I say that contentment is a quiet frame of spirit and by that I mean you should find men and women in a good mood not only at this time or that time, but as the constant tenor and temper of their hearts.”
-Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment