Saying "Enough" in a World of "Stuff": 6 Ways to Gain Contentment
On the weekend, I branch out from cooking-related posts and write about my family, answer reader questions, or just blog about what's on my mind! If you have a question or topic you'd like me to tackle, send it my way! :)
From my inbox:
I often feel like my circumstances are not ideal and it gets me down. I know your living situation is not what your dream living situation would be (this is something I struggle with). And maybe other things? Because you seem happy and content, I thought you could share more on that subject! If I can get my eyes on some good reading to help me bloom where I am planted... well, I just devour it!
I would love to write about this topic! Thanks for asking! :) You are right that I am usually happy and content, but I do still struggle at times with feeling like a failure and not being content with my life. I have to remind myself that as long as I am giving my best right now (laying aside past sins or mistakes) I am not a failure in God's eyes! He has placed us where we are and we're trying to live by faith.
A few short years ago I was not dreaming of living in a 2-bedroom apartment with 4 kids! It's easy to look around and feel like my children deserve "more", but... what is "more"? We have everything we need, and well beyond that. "Things" will NEVER bring lasting joy or contentment! We have "enough" -- and enough is enough.
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV)
Those verses are such a great reminder to me. Here are some of the ways I've found to build contentment and happiness in life:
1. Build and/or maintain a relationship with YHWH, our Creator. Meditating on Scripture and spending time in prayer uplifts my weary spirit and helps adjust my focus. There's just no substitute! I'm blessed with a husband who prays with me each evening, and I pray with the children in the mornings during our Bible time. We seek to be "real" in front of our children and do not pretend that we are perfect as parents or people. They must respect us as their parents, but as humans we are sinners saved by grace. :)
2. Build relationships with others, starting with your family. Take your focus off YOU and off LIFE and focus on others. How often do we neglect what is right in front of us, gazing at what we do not have? Money can not buy time or love, so spend your time wisely, investing in those you love. Your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings -- whoever is near you, give to them. Laugh with them! You will forget the "stuff" of life because JOY doesn't care if there are holes in your carpet or if your teeth are crooked.
3. Enjoy life's little things. We may not have a lot of "big" things but surely there are some luxuries, even small ones, we enjoy. Some of those luxuries for me are a hot cup of tea, music, a good book, and sunshine! Take time to rest and enjoy the simpler things. For me, I have to remind myself to slow down and not skip the "little" stuff like reading a book to my children, putting on music, or getting out in the sunshine!
4. Thank God for your health. Not everyone is blessed in this area as we are. Joshua and I are both pretty healthy and so are our children. Being able to get up each day, pain-free, is an amazing blessing! Being able to walk, run, smile, see the sunshine, and hear lovely sounds -- wow! :)
5. Ban depression. I do tend to get "down" fairly easily, I think, unless I am actively working against that tendency. Getting exercise, eating well, and DOING things are what seem to help me (along with the things listed in this post, as well). Depression is an awful, slippery downward spiral where I can't even see things as they are. It steals happiness and joy! Being honest with my husband about where I am emotionally and then taking steps to pull out of it are essential.
6. Spend time and resources on others. Truly, it is more blessed to give than to receive. I list this one last, but really, it's so important! Along with giving to those we see in need around us, we also sponsor a child through Compassion International. (You can read more about Compassion International on their website.) Our family has done this for over a year and our child, Peter, is such an awesome sweet blessing to all of us! We are able to exchange letters and photos with him and the boys draw pictures and send him stickers, post cards, etc. We pray for him as a family.
Seeing someone who has so little compared to us just really, really brings it all into perspective! I can't describe it, really. Go read Ashleigh's post "From Afar". And then pray about being able to bless a child with financial support, love, and prayer.
It's Happy and Sad. (about moving, and life)
Things YHWH has been teaching me (from 4 years ago)
These are the happy moments. Right now. Enjoy your now.