It had been five long months of pandemic uncertainty, isolation, and confusion. Cancelled commitments and shifted schedules. Distance learning and living. Life had been turned upside down, sending pieces of my normal flying into the air.
At first I was in shock and then I had peace for a little while. Sadness and tears showed up for an expected visit, and we rode a roller coaster of emotions that ranged from anxiety to acceptance. Things settled over time, and I started to get used to it.
But by the end of summer, I was sick of it. There were days when I woke up feeling as grouchy and frustrated as a spoiled rotten, hungry toddler who needed a nap. I hadn’t even started my day, and I was already mad about it. I could feel the discontentment rising up in me. I was tired of waiting and trusting God. I was sick of being positive and patient. I wanted life to go back to normal (don’t we all?).
One afternoon, as I was making myself a smoothie, I caught myself somewhere between praying and complaining. One minute, I felt like I should be thankful; the next minute, I felt like gratitude meant settling for a normal that stinks. Was this just how things were going to stay and God wanted me to accept them? Or was there a “holy discontentment” stirring in my heart to keep asking God for things to be made better?
I asked Him to make it clear if He wanted me to be content with all the change, uncertainty, and unknown, and immediately, a strong conviction came over me. God didn’t want me to settle for division, oppression, sickness, and sorrow, but He did want me to find contentment in this hard season, no matter how long it lasted.
It sounded like a hard assignment. What would that look like on a daily basis? I looked up the definition of contentment, hoping I might find a hidden rainbow of promise, but it said just what I thought it would. Contentment is defined as being satisfied with what one has or is. However, there was a second definition. Contentment also means “ease of mind.” Slowly, I repeated those three calming words: ease of mind. It sounded a whole lot like peace to me, and I knew I wanted it.
Contentment no longer felt like a restraining order but more like an invitation to breathe — to exhale the frustration of all that wasn’t so I can inhale the beauty of what still is.
It’s through the lens of gratitude that I find contentment. Gratitude isn’t a sign that I’m settling for less than God’s best; it’s the lens that helps me see God’s best right in front of me.
Gratitude helps me open the cabinet and pull out a candle to light for no reason in the the middle of an ordinary afternoon. Gratitude convinces me to let the late blooms of my zinnias stay a few more weeks. Gratitude helps me notice the cute, lime green baby tree frog on my my window sill tonight.
I am learning the secret to contentment isn’t found in my abundance or in my lack. It isn’t found in the normal we were used to or the life we want back. It isn’t based on circumstances around us but on the dwelling of Christ within us; the One who gives us strength to do all things, especially these very hard things.
Ease of mind comes and settles in me, not because I’m getting what I want but because I’m learning how to want what I already have.Leave a Comment