A few weeks ago I had an amazing day. It was so good that I went to sleep that night with a huge smile on my face. As I was in bed, I reflected on why the day was so good in an attempt to replicate it again the next day. As I thought about my day however, I realized nothing you would consider special really happened. I dressed the kids, made breakfast, cleaned, played, worked a little on my blog, gave the kids a bath, made dinner, spent time with my husband and then went to sleep smiling. It was seriously one of the most ordinary and normal days of my life. So why was I so happy? Then it finally hit me. I was content. Although life was ordinary, I didn't want to be anywhere else than where I was and I didn't want to be doing anything else than what I was doing.
Now this was not always the case for me. I never imagined myself as a wife and stay-at-home mom living in the suburbs driving a SUV. My plan was to be a career woman living in a high-rise condo in the city. So I spent the first few years as a parent wresting with the fact that I was doing what I believed to be the very opposite. I was tired, frustrated, and far from content.
I've found it to be true for many people that most of the frustration in our lives stems from wanting something we don't have or desiring to be somewhere we are not. But the reality is no one, and I mean no one, ever experiences a life where they receive absolutely everything they want and desire. The challenge comes when we have to figure out how to navigate through seasons and circumstances that we don't desire or never planned for our lives. Maybe for you it's a job you hate, a season of financial or physical strain, relationship drama, or a failed project or plan.
The Apostle Paul speaks to this very subject when he says:
“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 this through him who gives me strength.” - Philippians 4:12-13 NIV
If there is anything you've learned from life by now I'm sure it's that nothing ever stays the same or always goes as planned. So Paul reminds us that through the strength of Christ we can handle life when it goes our way and even when it doesn't. But how do we actually do this? Well, I've pinpointed three practical practices that turned me from a frustrated mom to a content housewife. I'm confident they will work for you no matter what situation you are facing.
Prayer is key to a content life. Specifically, the prayer for God's desires to be our own. There are times when we want what God wants. This is when it is the easiest to be content. But when what we want is different from what God wants life can get complicated and we can grow discontent. The solution is to ask God to align our hearts desires with His. We can pray that even if we don't understand the situation we are in, God would grant us the strength to change our desire to match His. I always pray about this because this is something only God can do. Only He can change our hearts. So if our situation is not going to change the only way to living content is if we do through the power of prayer.
2) Be Thankful
There is no room for discontentment in the heart of a thankful woman. And I'm not saying you have to be thankful for the challenges you may be facing. Some of you have every reason to want your situation to change. But what I am saying is if we want to rid ourselves of the discontentment that robs us of joy, we need to find something to be thankful for even in the midst of our situation. Thankfulness will not always come naturally, especially if we are already discontent with our lives but it is an invitation for us to live content. So this is something we will have to be intentional about because it's not going to happen on its own. I suggest taking time to journal and write down daily what you are thankful for. If we are intentional about seeking out God's good even in the bad, our situation may not change but the load of walking though it will be lightened.
3) Don't Let Your Feelings Lead You
Our feelings are not bad. They show us how we are processing life but we should not be led by our feelings. We should be led by the truth of God. When we are not content with our lives our feelings and God's truth may not always align. When things don't go our way we may feel God has forgotten us, that He doesn't really care about us, and that He is even mad at us. We may feel these things but they are not true so we should not be led by them. We should not make decisions based off feelings that come and go. If we want to live content right now we need to not only know God's truth but live like we actually believe it. We need to live like we are loved, cared for, and cherished because no matter what situation we may be facing today we are. We can and should process our feelings to allow them to help us understand what's going on in our lives and hearts but let’s remember to always be led by the truth.
Which of these three strategies do you struggle with the most? Do you have any other strategies to live content?
Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.