This year I am focusing on learning to be content. So much of my life has been a striving after one desire, then on to the next striving towards whatever happened to catch my attention.
The question I have been asking myself is, “When will what I have ever be enough”?
When I took a mental checklist, I could not find myself lacking anything. Sure, there are things I desire, but can I get by without most of them? Yes.
The next question I ask is where can I trim the fat? What do I have an excess of that is weighing me down unnecessarily?
Material excess can be shared, donated, given away. I always feel lighter after a trip to the thrift store to give away what I no longer use so that someone who will use it can.
Emotional excess is trickier to tackle. I have carried a ton of emotional baggage with me throughout this year. I was hurt and could not wrap my head around how to move forward. I tried all year, crying, praying, suffering, and the only word I brought to 2018 was contentment.
I realized at church this Sunday when the speaker was listing the fruits of the spirit that they all relate to the contentment of our hearts: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience/Forebearance, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self Control – so I would like to focus on one each of these per month.
January is love. How does loving others lead to contentment? The western world’s view of love can range from dutiful service, to romantic gestures, to brotherly kindness. My understanding of love is sacrifice. Love serves and gives and has the supernatural ability to heal many, many wounds.
Love has caused me great pain because those I love have a greater ability to hurt me. I give them that power over me. BUT, I also allowed that thought to lead me into focusing on how I was hurt and suffering FOR them. As though me suffering for their lack of regard was a sacrificial way to love. I was no better off until I thought, ‘how can loving them lead to contentment’? I have let go of the thought that they hurt me because of something I did. This puts the focus entirely on me and keeps hurting only me. And suffering through that alone – more ME + more selfishness = less love.
So I forgive them. Not past tense – present tense – because this trap may try to sneak its way back into my life. I have freed about 4 or 5 people this past year from getting stuck in the mental net of my offense. I chose to assume the better of each of them and praised God for helping me to maintain those relationships.
I’m thankful to begin the year considering how love leads to contentment. Even carrying around the word contentment like a trinket in my heart makes me look at so many things in my life differently.