Contentment

Our home was only partly built when our second baby was born. It was very unsafe. There was a big open cavity of ground surrounding our home, as we didn’t have the money to move the dirt back after excavating. There was no front door - just a slab of wood you had to kick out of the way. There was no running water or toilet. I had to potty train my two-year-old in a bucket. There were stairs without railings, second and third floor levels without surrounding walls, and nails and sharp tools everywhere. And mud everywhere!

My husband worked long hours at work and everyday I was left with a little tiny newborn, and an exploring two-year-old in a dangerous house. There were times when I felt totally overwhelmed and wanted to cry and sulk in self-pity.

On the days I gave in to this I would have a horrible day, but when I took those discontented lies into captivity and thanked God for what I did have, I was the happiest woman in the world. I would feel sorry for people that didn’t have my life. I embraced my situation and fell in love with it.  I supported my husband in our lengthy and tiresome house venture (which is slowly continuing) and learned to fall in love with his dream. I enjoyed running outside to the bathroom and thought of it all as another experience to look back on and laugh about.  We were all in it together, and I made it my mission to make this humble home the happiest palace in the world.

I realized God knew my living situation, and as long as I was as watchful, God would protect my little two-year-old. I relaxed, and this past year has been one of the happiest in my life. Instead of being overwhelmed with “poor me” and all my problems, I became overwhelmed with all my blessings. I threw away my own life and wants and found a new life that was happier and more fulfilling than I could ever have dreamed.

I realized one day that it could have been a lot different. I could have had a miserable life filled with complaints. I could have made my husband miserable by being a miserable wife. I could have made my children’s lives sad and dull with a complaining mother. I realized it was a choice, and I made an attitude change.  I realized that discontentment is a weapon from the enemy to not only steal my joy but also to take away the focus on my blessings and God’s plan for my life.

God had placed me in this set of circumstances and made me a mother of children. I was not going to let the devil sidetrack my high calling as a mother by complaining about my circumstances. I got out the Bible and read the truth that would set me free. He said He made the barren woman to be a joyful mother of children. I had never been barren but I got the ‘joyful’ gist. He said he that will lose his life would find it.

I threw my life into being a wife and mother. I don’t always sleep like a baby or ever have time to pamper myself. I hardly ever have a shower without a little one hanging on my leg or eat a meal without standing up and jiggling a tired baby. I don’t get time to do a lot of those things I had planned to do, but I am happier than I could ever dream. I gave my life away but found a better one. I don’t have time for myself but, I don’t desire that any more. Now I think it would be rather boring.  When I think about myself too much, I lose my joy.

I’ll tell you what I do have...

I have a wonderful, amazing husband, and two beautiful blessings from heaven that are the joy of our lives. We pray God blesses us with many more – my husband would like twelve children.

I have the pleasure of sweet cuddles from chubby little arms and little raspberry kisses from tiny cupid lips.

I have the privilege of little voices asking me questions, hanging on my every word, and calling me mother. I have the joy of watching them grow and knowing the satisfaction of having a part of their development.

I have the indescribable honor of feeling life form within my body. If I could describe the emotions when I first felt the little stir within in my womb, I would have to make up another language, as I cannot find any word quite good enough in mine.

I have the awesome challenge of birthing flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone and feeling its little body slide out into our world, and seeing a little wrinkled face for the first time. I have the beautiful quiet moments of cradling a babe at my breast and stroking the soft, chubby cheek as wide, searching eyes gaze into mine.

I have the responsibility from God to love, care and raise these human lives to serve their Creator and change the world for Him. I have a high calling from God. It may not always be easy, but he never said it would be.

He said He would be always there, that He would never leave or forsake me, and that He would never give me more than I could handle. If everything were as smooth as ice cream, life would be boring. We would never grow and never appreciate life to its fullest.

My older sister and her husband are building a house, too.  Just as we are, they are not taking out a loan to do it, so they just have to build it slowly when money and time provide. She is expecting her sixth child. They all live in a one-room cabin that is tinier than most people’s kitchens. They have no running water as yet and have to run out to the woods to use the restroom. She homeschools them all and has to cook outside on a propane burner.

She is the happiest person I know. She enters every room with a smile and a booming hello. Her children love every bit of it, as it is like a never-ending camping trip for them. She has her tiny home organized and beautiful. She has made it a happy palace, and they are all thriving and loving life.

The only reason this story is a happy one is because of her attitude. She told me one day that contentment is all in the way you look at things, and that happiness is the state of your mind, not your circumstances. I remember that every time I have a discontented thought.

Of course she longs for the day when her home will be built, as I also do, but she is content to live in whatever circumstance she is placed, and praise the Lord for his goodness.

Our western society, with all its affluence, has subconsciously influenced us to think we need so much stuff to be truly happy. Recently when out in the car, I happened to hear Dr. Laura on the radio. She was answering a question from a lady who was worried that her children had to share a room.  Dr. Laura told her of a family she visited in Israel who had nine children and all had to fit in a one-room home. She said they were contented and happy and the children got on wonderfully.

I was really challenged by something she said, which I am going to permanently fix in my mind. She said “It is our expectation that leads us to our depression.” In our western society, we expect so much, and think we are poor and deprived if we don’t obtain these expectations. Even those on the poverty line are like millionaires compared to a lot of families in less fortunate countries.

It is not things that make us rich, or perfect circumstances that make us happy. True wealth is more real and tangible than mere materialism. It is richness in the things that will not fade, and can be carried on into eternity.

I have found Philippians 4:11-13 encouraging, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both     to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.”

We can embrace our high calling of mothering and all that comes with it, or we can hold on to our own life and all that comes along with that. Living for self is usually boring, as we can never truly be content by looking out for number one.

We have a choice - contentment or discontentment.

It does not come from a change in circumstances but a change in our minds.

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