How we can find contentment in our daily lives
How do you view contentment? Many of us see it as a cat-who-got-the-cream smugness, as achievement, success and life going swimmingly. It it was limited to those things, then it would be pretty elusive and exclusive.
What if we looked at it differently? Maybe contentment is more to do with an attitude of the heart, a daily decision and a position of praise and gratitude.
If I wait for my life to become easy, for pain to lessen, circumstances to change and tests and trials to cease, then I could lose all sense of contentment altogether. It would be natural to drop into discouragement or despair and fail to notice the good things already in my days.
Because they are there if we deliberately search for them, waiting in the corners of our existence like a trail of Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs.
And when we do spot them? We realize how it really is the little things, those seemingly random and insignificant things which matter most of all. It’s the small graces, breath of beauty, and family joys which we so often fail to appreciate that bring us the most satisfaction.
I begin to battle my way to holy joy and contentment when I remind myself to sense God’s hand at work in my life. In the unfurling of the hours there are whispers of goodness and grace just waiting to be discovered.
In living a cloistered, housebound life due to physical health limitations, I’ve had to look beyond its confines to the One who sustains and strengthens me each day, to face life with faith, hold onto hope and find peace in being slowed down and stilled.
It chafes most days like an itchy, ill-fitting jumper. It’s humbling to have to be constantly reminded of my human weakness and frailty. It’s a life-less-ordinary I didn’t choose, but it’s also one infused with God’s grace.
He’s given me an ability to look beyond the superficial, to sense His presence and be thankful for small mercies. As I watch the world out my window and witness the ever-changing panorama of the heavens, I pause to admire God’s handiwork and try to capture it through a lens.
When I observe new life budding on earth, I see it as a portent of promise breaking through the dark soil of my situation, an unfolding of hope. Plants and trees speak to me of freedom and of beauty in the everyday.
I am grateful for a husband who sacrificially cares for me, bakes bread, cooks marvellous meals, does housework and shopping (yes, really – and no, you can’t borrow him!). I see Jesus in him. I see love that has grown over years, becoming precious as fine gold.
Is my life, family, home or husband perfect? Far from it. But they are all mine. I can choose to grumble and complain about them, or try to see the marvel hidden in the mundane. Yet there are dark days where I fall into sadness and discouragement, and a painful past has taken some working through. I struggle in many areas.
But when I read books and blogs which encourage and stretch my thinking, when I start to sense God more in the daily, then those feelings of failure, fear, dread and despair begin to dissipate.
When I write I feel freer, experience joy and a degree of purpose. I share words to help others know they’re not alone with their struggles. We’re all broken people to some extent or other. The world cries out for solace of every kind and so often seeks it in the wrong places.
There is an answer for our pain, a purpose beyond life’s confines, a way to live freely while chained to earth’s boundaries. Because right in the midst of our muddles and mess, God speaks out His Good News, a message of grace and hope for wounded souls, for this life and beyond.
No matter what is going on in your life or mine, the more we look to God, the longer we linger in His presence and allow ourselves to become changed by His Spirit, the more content we will gradually become.
More about Joy:
Joy Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer, poet and blogger, author of ‘Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life’s hard places’. She enjoys encouraging others on their journey of life and faith at her blogs wordsofjoy.me and poetryjoy.com as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. You can connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.
Note from Helen:
You can read more about the contentment series here. Here are posts from Michelle and Gabriele: definitely worth a read! Posts will be up from Sarah Jo, Julia and Lizelle in coming weeks! Thanks so much ladies for your contributions and to everyone for reading! [If you’ve emailed me and I haven’t replied – yet – please bear with me. I had an accident at home last week and am only very slowly recovering 😦 ]