BY: KENDRA CAGLE
So, I used to have a little bit of a problem with our friend, Paul, from the Bible. I took the words he wrote and applied them to my life, and they just wouldn’t fit. One passage in particular stood out as the most contradictory to the life of my teens and early 20’s. The concept rattled me, and I just could not accept it. So, here it is.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12
Contentment. I used to see it as such a negative word. Being content meant stagnation. Contentedness meant giving up on progress. Into my mid 20's, I rebelled against anything close to what I saw as settling. It was hard for me to understand how someone could be happy with less. So, I would scoff every time my husband listed it as a favorite scripture. I know, I was a mean one.
I didn't begin to understand the joy that can be found in contentment until life got real. Dealing with the stress of taking care of a home and family, raising a gorgeous boy with special needs, and reaching a clinical level of anxiety, all had a way of changing my perspective.
Living in my real, grown-up life, I yearn for contentment. I still have goals. I'm still striving to live the life God has prepared for me, but my greatest accomplishment is feeling the blessing of every second. As I’m writing this and reading it to my husband, he’s demanding examples. So, here is a way I’ve given contentment a big ol’ hug and a “welcome” into my life.
When I first had a child, I dove face first into an identity crisis. Who was I now that I was only a mom? Where was my worth without the validation and affirmation of my daily interactions with co-workers and peers? I was depressed and lost without the labels my work and my social status created. I struggled with this for a couple of years before I allowed God to show me the benefits and the magic of this time as “just a mom.” I perceived this as a low time — but, the more days I spent with my son, the more I realized life had never felt more right. I went from lower than I had ever been, to feeling like I had more potential and hope than ever before. Life is still changing, but contentment is much nearer. It’s always within reach, but I might need a nap and a coffee first.
The fact is God can and will use whatever situation you go through. He won’t drop you at rock bottom, but you can guarantee He will create something good out of it if you let Him. I wouldn’t be writing these words right now without my face-plant into motherhood. Being a mom gave me the guts to put my writing out there, and it’s been a complete blessing of a journey. That is why we can be content, even joyful, even if the concept seems impossible. In every season, we are in the hands of God. Every. Single. Day. It doesn’t matter how low or how dark your days seem. God is working. We can be content, happy and satisfied in our worst moments because God will never turn away an opportunity to use your life for His glory.
My original rebellion against being content was rooted in self-doubt. Since I know myself pretty well, I knew being content was going to be a struggle. Every time I would reach a goal, I was immediately working toward a new one. I was never happy with what I had in the moment. I felt like contentment was only meant for the moments you were stuck in the in-between, but I realized there is no in-between. God doesn’t see us in a day-to-day manner. We judge our life by each day — but, to God, we are all on a path to Him. As long as we stay on that road, every curve and detour are parts of His plan and preparation. All things, all days, work together.
So, even on the bad days, grab tight to contentment. God is using your moments. Be excited your struggle and your work are never in vain. God is growing you. God is moving in and through you. God is making you into the woman who will win souls and change lives. Rest in that. Be content.
Kendra is a loving wife, tired mom, and lifelong preacher's kid. She currently resides with her family, 2 cats, and 1 dog in a little blue house in Oklahoma.