Last night I ordered a nice meal, poured a hefty glass of wine, and watched a Hallmark movie… by myself. Before I scare you off, this is not a pity-my-situation post or a praise-my-situation post. I have my moments in both regards, but that is a much different story.
As I sat there on my couch talking with God about what we’re doing here (”here” meaning “with my life”), I began to realize a contentment in my heart that had honestly been missing for a while. It was not a contentment based on career or relationships or finances, but one based on the knowledge that I am a child of God. Dearly loved and graciously saved and carefully held.
Before you maybe do the *eye roll* and think that this is such a cliché, sit with me for a moment.
I can’t claim contentment on my own merit, but goodness have I tried. I have landed my dream job, established a home away from home, and written a book, none of which have resulted in the contentment my heart longs for. I still often doubt the usefulness of seemingly wasted time and nights spent at home alone and even the success of things that have gone well, but I’m learning that contentment doesn’t mean that I have life figured out or that everything is just as I want it to be.
I’m learning that contentment is not found in my circumstances at all but it is experienced in the arms of my Heavenly Father, the shaper and protector of my heart. The Father who made a way for me to climb into the shelter of His arms by sacrificing His Son. The Father who sees my disappointments and my frustrations and my accomplishments and my lack of understanding and calls me to remember Him above the could have/should have/wanna have moments.
And just as experiencing contentment is not based in circumstances, it does not necessarily change circumstances either. I felt the wave of contentment rolling over me as the Lord pulled me from what easily could have turned into the aforementioned pity party, but it did not result in a handsome man knocking at my door or a publishing contract in my email or a number of other answered requests I have laid out before the Lord.
Don’t get me wrong, experiencing contentment in relationship with God does not immediately dispel any trace of confusion about life. I can still question if I’m where the Lord wants me to be or why He has me where He does, and believe me I do. The difference is recognizing that contentment can be experienced even when life feels like wasted time and senseless whirlwinds. Not because “You got this” and not because “It is what it is,” but because you know your Maker and you recognize His presence in the midst of it all.
We don’t have to know all the steps.
We don’t have to ignore all the questions.
We don’t have to change the circumstances.
We don’t have to find contentment.
We just have to find the Father.
He will show us the steps, answer the questions, and change the circumstances all in His perfect time. The joy comes in realizing that even before that time has come, He pours out contentment as we spend time cultivating a relationship with Him.
We don’t find contentment; we experience it as the Lord pours it into the missing or misunderstood pieces of life that we can’t yet hold. With every beat of our heart aligning with His, we experience a contentment this world cannot create and cannot take.
I have not lived a life comparable to Paul, but I want to end with his words in Philippians 4:12-13 -
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”