I’ve long been an admirer of Michelle’s writing for the Five Minute Friday prompts as she’s guaranteed to write something thought-provoking that always makes me reflect deeper on the word prompt and on my own life.
Here goes with Michelle’s reflection on contentment….
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.” Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 ESV
Are you content with your life?
There was a time I was far from content. Before I knew Jesus, I was chasing after the wind, just like Solomon. I was looking for something that would make me happy.
I sought it out in men. It wasn’t there. I searched for it in the bottom of a bottle. That led to drunkenness. I looked for it in tattoos and conventions which only made me happy for a moment. I joined an online community that left me wanting a real community. I thought I’d find it in a new place with sunshine and the beach but ended up lonelier than ever.
I searched and searched for the missing piece but hit a wall and finally decided, like Solomon, that life was meaningless. A striving after the wind.
Then I met Jesus. In the blink of an eye, life became meaningful. But the contentment took time.
I was so excited because the Lord took me back after spending years blatantly ignoring him. So in the beginning all I wanted to do was serve him. It wasn’t until returning from Africa in 2013, that I would truly start to sit still and learn to be content.
And boy was it hard! We humans are such people pleasers, we’ll do practically anything for anybody. We have such a hard time saying no. On the surface, it all seems good. The Lord does want us to help each other, love each other. But underneath, it’s still equally important to take care of ourselves, spend quality time with our heavenly Father.
When I came back from Africa, the Lord told me it was time to sit still, time to take care of myself. He said to me, “Martha, Martha, you worry about so many things. Mary has chosen the good thing and it will not be taken from her.”
So I sat still. But that first year, there was no contentment. There was anxiety and depression. After that first year home, I began to keep a list of things that I was thankful for. Over the course of the following year, the anxiety and depression left. It was replaced with contentment. But I don’t think I fully realized I was content until another year had passed.
So I’ve learned that contentment comes by being myself, being kind to others, and just being available to the people in front of me, the ones I know and the ones I meet. I finally learned that I don’t have to be a giant or a hero for God. He is the hero. I just have to be me.
Note from Helen: it’s a testament to Michelle’s manner that she, herself, didn’t ask me to include this information….
Michelle is undertaking a hiking challenge to hike 1000 miles in 2016 and she’s fund-raising as she hikes, for the charity Mercy Ships (which provides medical care in developing countries, via international hospital ships). Michelle has previously volunteered on a Mercy Ship and so it’s a charity very dear to her heart.
If you’d like to read more about the charity, you can do so here. Looking through the Mercy Ships website, this volunteer testimony resonated very deeply with me, and I was left in awe, really, by the sheer logistical challenges to set it all up, and the efforts it must take to actively maintain the ships and the flow of the work undertaken from the ships.