Contentment

9 03 2007

Of all places, standing in line at the movie theater, breathing in the stench of popcorn and fake cheese while my sneaker is firmly lodged in some archaic bubble gum, often makes it a challenge to continue viewing my singleness as an opportunity to be flexible and free to do and go wherever God calls, rather than the reason why I don’t have a cute guy holding my hand while I wait to order my ticket.  

While surveying the other movie goers inline, I shoot up a prayer that sounds more like it should be addressed to the Great Cosmic Department Store Manager, and not the Creator of the Universe.  “Okay, so I know this whole singles thing is an opportunity for me to serve You God and all, but do You think maybe I could get an exchange?  Have You ever considered a layaway program?”          

The line from a song, “I’m nothing without you, but I don’t know who you are.” seems to sum up these moments.  Sometimes, it’s the simple fact there isn’t anyone that can give you the feeling you’re lacking something — maybe everything — because they aren’t standing there next to you, but you don’t even know who he or she is.     

Unless, you’re still an avid disciple of Cooties, you’ve probably experienced the same feeling, maybe even standing inline at your local movie theater while the couple in front of you makes goo-goo eyes at each other.  It’s hard sometimes, isn’t it?  

In an attempt to regain my focus — it’s incredible how easily it gets lost —  I drag Philippians 4:11-13 out of a dusty, old filing cabinet somewhere in the back of my brain and mull it over a bit.   

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”    

Ah, yes, the journey of learning to be content.  It helps me to remember it’s something we have to learn, and not that some saintly people are just born with the ability to be perfectly content in all of life’s situations, and others, like me, were born with and extra helping of the gimmies.   

The journey of learning contentment comes in many sizes, shapes and colors.  It can be choosing not to lust after someone’s home library, even though they have an entire collection of classic books.  It can be being thankful for the three pairs of sneakers I have, even though I’d quite happily fill my entire closet with more.  It can mean accepting the fact my dad is dying, and in many ways, he’s already gone, but still choosing to be thankful for the time I did have.  And sometimes, learning to be content takes the shape of being content with being single.          

Anne Lamott says the best two prayers she knows are “Help me, help me, help me” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”  I’ve gotten a good deal of mileage out of both, and after a few moments of chewing on Paul’s sentiments regarding contentment, and staring at the movie times, if you could’ve eavesdropped in on my mental ponderings, you would have heard both. “Thank you, Lord, that you’ve given me this opportunity to serve You.  Help me to learn to be content.”

Too many people seem feel that somewhere out there, just over the horizon, is that one thing they’ve been waiting for — college, marriage, a better job, kids — that will make all of the little pieces of their life fall into place and then everything will be truly wonderful.  But there will always be something just out of reach, and as I grasp a hold of the next thing, something new will always take its place.  If I don’t learn how to be content now, I never will be.

Annette Funicello put it well when she said, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”  Everything doesn’t have to be straight off a Hollywood set before it’s wonderful.  Right now, just the way it is, my life is wonderful and I’m thankful for it.          

Well, I have more to say regarding contentment, but I’ve run out of time and space.  I’ll have to post a “part two” later.

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8 responses

8 03 2007
evenstarwen

i know how you feel. there is an innate longing in each of us for intimacy, and waiting for the right time to fulfill that longing is one of the hardest things i have ever had to do. there is such pressure these days to be with somebody, and most people do not understand why can’t have what we want right now. but we owe it to ourselves to wait for mr right, not just mr right now. often God asks us to choose not between what is bad and what is good, but between what is good and what is best. please be encouraged in your journey towards contentment with the promise that it WILL be worth the wait. God has prepared nothing less than the best for our future. i am absolutely certain of this. and in the meantime, this waiting period will keep us from experiencing the devastation of wrong decisions. let us allow God to fill the loneliness and teach us to be in love with Him first.

thank you for this article, i was greatly encouraged. i hope that you will also find strength in the knowledge that you are not alone in the pursuit of contented singleness.

Evenstarwen, Thank you for taking the time to comment. I know it’s easy to read a post and than just move on. I really appreciated hearing from you, and I’m glad you felt encouraged by reading over it. 🙂

Yes, you’re right, the desire for intimacy is a natural thing we’ve all been given, but it’s still a very real challenge practically walking out waiting for “Mr. Right” rather than jumping into a relationship with any “Mr. Right Now” who happens to be there.

May we find our fulfillment in God.

~Kelsey

9 03 2007
hudds53

Kelsey, this is a wonderful post. So much thought in it so thought provoking. As for the being single, I can still remember the feelings. It seems like every where you look there are nothing but happy loving couples, ahh to be like them.
Be patient, know Mr. Right is out there, God is now preparing him, grooming him for you. Grooming him so that when you do meet he will be THE Mr. Right.
I am glad you have a more positive attitude, “celebrate what you have, rather than wasting time mourning what you do not have”. It is sadly as you say, there will always be something just over the horizon that we can think will improve our lives. We can spend so much time chasing that horizon we miss out on life entirely
When that Mr. Right does come along, he will be a lucky man
Bill

Thank you, Bill. 🙂

It’s hard to be content sometimes, no matter where someone is in life, but it’s so important. It determines the level someone’s able to enjoy life.

~Kelsey

16 03 2007
~m

This is a toughie, Kelsey.
I don’t think there ever comes a time in your life when you are truly 100% content. I think that if you were, why would you get up in the morning?
This is a wonderful post that I may have to re-visit in a month or so.
Hope life is treating you well.

~m

16 03 2007
Moe

Yes, you’re right. There isn’t a time in life when we’re ever fully content, which can be a good thing, because it gives us a reason to keep on keepin’ on. If I was content with what I know right now, I’d never bother picking up another book, watching the news, seeing what’s outside the four walls of my room, or asking questions, which wouldn’t be a good thing. We all need a reason to get out of bed.

On the flip side, though, just because life won’t ever be perfect and we won’t ever be at a place in life where we can just coast, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy what we have right now. Happiness, or contentment for that matter, seem to be a journey, not a destination that once reached we’ll be caught in some perpetual state of happiness and contentment. In a fairytale, it would be the “happily ever after” part. I think so much of wheter of not we enjoy life boils down to how we choose to view the moment we’re living in, and less on the actual details.

To me, this quote sums it up well:

“For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” ~ Souza

~Kelsey

16 03 2007
writerchick

Kelsey,
I like this post. You are right, we must learn to be content with our lives and happy with what we have. It doesn’t negate any goals we may still have to say we are content – in fact, couldn’t one be content to have what they including their goals and desires and wishes? I think they can.

I wish you the best of luck in your pursuit of contentment and thankfulness for your blessings.

WC

Yes, I think so, too.

Thank you, WC. 🙂

~Kelsey

18 03 2007
babychaos

Great post. Seriously wise stuff.

For what it’s worth, I really hear you about the wanting something but at the same time, being very happy with the way things are. I’m in much the same position, myself, but with trying to make Spawn of BC rather than finding the BC Soul Mate.

I remember feeling this way before Mr BC turned up, too – right down to the lyric, which is a cracker by the way. I guess part of being human is that we’ll always want a little bit of something we don’t have… I guess it’s part of our programming… we have to shake things up and move on if we want to develop. And I’d say the search for the ultimate companion, a real soul mate, is definitely hotwired in!

Somewhere out there is a guy with your name on and you’ll find each other. Heaven knows you will certainly manage it if I did. You just have to be patient (says BC the world’s most impulsive patience-free zone of a person).

Take care you, I hope you will always be blessed….

And get the rest of those pictures up hey? 😉

Cheers

BC

Thank you, BC.

It does seem to be part of the program; always wanting more, in the sense of never being satisfied and also continuing to strive for our dreams and goals.

Yes, I’ll work on getting the rest of the pictures up. 🙂

I now also have a mirror on the wall, so I can now view my bed head all the better. Van Gogh is my favorite artist and I have a picture of “The Starry Night” leaning against my wall just waiting to be hung. Maybe I’ll grab a hammer and get to work after I know for sure the rest of the house is awake.

~Kelsey

23 03 2007
myderbe

Good thoughts. 🙂 It’s so complicated, isn’t it? Wanting something yet wanting to be satisfied with Christ alone. And once we do have that one thing we knew would completely satisfy us (a husband, a child, a larger house, a newer car, the really beautiful pair of shoes), we only find something else to set our sights on.

Something I read a while back in a Bible study guide is something I try to keep in the back of my mind and pull out when I begin to feel discontent. We’ll never be fully content, fully satisfied until we are Home with the One Who satisfies, until we have completely, totally decreased and He has fully increased in us. Until then, we can rightly recognize that our discontentment (both great and small) is really a deep longing for complete satisfaction, a deep longing to be Home with Christ.

When discontentment crowds into my heart, I can shift my focus to the One Who can satisfy, and He can be glorified even in my discontentment.

Yes, it can seem rather complicated. I think when it comes down to it, though, it’s really more a matter of perspective than anything else, but refocusing can be very challenging.

Saying we have a “God shaped hole in our heart” sounds so cliché, so I hate to throw it around much, but basically, that’s what it comes down to. Our longings are only a symptom of our greater need and desire; to be with Him in Glory. He is the only one who can truly fulfil us now while here on earth, and someday, when we’re Home, we’ll truly find complete satisfaction and contentment with our God and Savior. What a wonderful day it will be.

Thank you for stopping by, Myderbe. 🙂

~Kelsey

27 03 2007
Dianasaur

I’m proud of you Kelsey, I think seeking out a relationship is one of the biggest downfalls of Christian women. When it came to guarding my heart, I clung to many verses. Two of them were Song of Solomon 2:7, and Jeremiah 29:11-13. They helped me remember that God does not want me to seek out my husband in my timing, and that He has a plan for my future, but I need to be seeking Him with my whole heart.

One day I reached a point where I was able to say, “God, I desire to be married one day, but I will be happy and content even if that doesn’t happen, as long as You are with me and I am serving You.” It was just after that realization, that he introduced me to Eric. It was almost a year later that we realized God had brought us together.

If we had met even six months earlier, or pursued each other once we met rather than pursuing God, things would not have worked out. But God had grown each of us separately to a place where we are now so ready to face together the struggles of life and marriage, and embrace the joys and excitement. We are so thankful neither of us sought a spouse, or gave our heart away until God made it clear to us.

I will be praying for you Kelsey, I know it’s a difficult stand to make, but you’re not in it alone.

Thank you, Diana for stopping by and for taking the time to comment on my post.

God’s timing is so amazing. I loved hearing about you and Eric and how God brought you together at just the right time; He knew when you were both ready.

You’re right, choosing not to chase after romance is a hard stand to take. Sometimes, it’s just hard to wait, and other times, it can make you feel like the odd man out because you’re not chasing after anyone, or trying to make something happen. It’s always good to know I’m not alone in my choice to wait on God and His timing.

~Kelsey

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