By nature, I’m a pretty content person. Well that is what I thought until I examined my words and actions. After listening to a message on contentment, I realized that most of my life has been waiting for the next best thing. In fact, I’m tearing up thinking about a lot of wasted space used up in my brain that could have been used to enjoy the now. I tend to be a forward thinker. How can we make this better? What needs to be changed? How can we improve our weaknesses? I’m not discounting self-improvement and healthy self-examination but with all things there is balance. You can think so forward you can’t live right now. After a few days off before launching into my next career, I’ve done a spiritual, physical, and mental overhaul. Everyday I’ve spent time in prayer and in God’s Word, attended my hot yoga sessions in which I prayed in solitude and deep concentration, and I shut my brain off. I did not worry about a mess, fret about a situation out of my control, nor did I force my agenda in the lives of those around me. I prayed for the Spirit to move and fill my heart and mind. During this time, I had a breakthrough.
1. Now is all you have (be all in)
With every ounce of your being, be in the present. Your present. What is in front of you? What does it look like, feel like, and smell like. I have heard moms say beautiful things to their children, birds sing songs, the smell of a cookout and honeysuckle, a candle flicker so bright it sparkled, and the roses in bloom. I’ve looked into the eyes of my daughter, and listened to her heart. I’ve marveled at how much my husband brings me joy. I have cried with my sisters. Live now; live in peace.
2. Your body needs exercise
We all have our thing. You may enjoy a yoga DVD in the morning or a jog at night. For me, hot yoga for 90 minutes works every joint and ligament in my body, reminds me to breath and, in the quiet, I pray for healing. At the end, they give us a cold, lavender towel to cool off. I place the towel on each section of my body and ask for God to heal and use this vessel for His glory. Do your thing on a regular basis and make it a time of healing!
3. Stop judging yourself and others
This is more a concentrated practice. I’m so very good at sizing up a situation and deeming it good or bad. If bad, then my mood or mindset changes. If it’s good, then I’m good and you are good. I’m surprised at my ability to judge a situation and go through a cycle that ultimately ends in guilt and shame. STOP. Each situation you encounter that challenges your day is just that–a situation. You are not defined by the situation, and the situation does not define you or others. It simply is. Furthermore, in our corner is Jesus who is in all things. “For from Him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36 I don’t know about you but God has not finished with me yet. I will be working on something and getting more like Him until He calls me home. I’m assuming that is true for you, and I pray God helps me see you that way so I can be kind and merciful.
4. Seek your Creator daily
We may not have time to read a chapter in the Bible and write in a journal, but we do have time to talk to Him, listen to worship music on Pandora, and to discover times that we can dig deeper through podcasts, reading, and journaling. Seeking Him has centered me spiritually and brought peace in the midst of chaos.
5. Remember yourself as an individual created by God
Psalm 139 tells you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Before you claim yourself as a wife, mother, daughter, career person, role at church, etc., you are an individual created by God. I’m all for mentoring and gathering advice from the experienced, but the greatest joy is knowing who you are in Christ Jesus! The greatest joy is celebrating you by spending time with yourself. Go to your favorite place by yourself on a regular basis. That may be your garden at home, a coffee shop, a bike ride, a run, or a park, but make sure you celebrate you. In our time of fellowship with others, we are called to compromise and work together. When you spend time alone, you are able to unleash the you God created. This commitment means you will have to adjust your schedule and say no to others. Give yourself permission to say yes to you. You are worth it. I love hot yoga, the rain on my face, a vegetarian dish, sitting at a coffee shop creating, and drinking a cup of coffee in the outdoors while doing absolutely nothing–being still. This recharges our mind and reminds us that it’s okay to love ourselves. In fact JESUS said “love your neighbor as yourself”. Glory–Holy Spirit moment here! Love your neighbor as YOU. Don’t try to be someone else or compare yourself to others. Get comfortable in your skin–be beautiful you. If I’m constantly changing my personality to suit others, I will live an exhausting and confusing existence. My goal in relationships is to learn who YOU are and see how YOU and ME can enjoy each other. People will try to control the you that you are becoming, and not everyone will enjoy your company. Not a problem. You continue to seek God’s will for your life and know He will never leave you nor forsake you. It’s an eternal promise.
6. Stop wanting more
As humans we have a tendency to always desire the next best thing. I’m single, I want to be married. I’m married, God change my spouse. I want a house, I need someone to help me clean this house. I make this salary, I want a higher salary or promotion. I have this many likes, I want more likes. God encourages us to seek Him and to ask for the desires of our hearts. How do you live content in the waiting, or, in some cases, asking God to bless you as He deems necessary and according to His will? Enjoy the abundance you currently have and marvel at the reality that you have much to be grateful for even if your life situation is the worst it has ever been.
Lastly, if you are married, you have a choice to embrace the spouse that God has given you and all the many wonderful qualities they have, or you can spend the rest of your life wanting more from them. It’s healthy to desire conversations around needs and change, but, honestly, you married a person that will not drastically change. If you married an introvert, they may consider going to a few parties with you, but they will not become a bubbling extrovert. If you married a person who has a tendency towards needing things spelled out and reminders, then a calendar and upfront discussions may help, but they are not going to turn into the Type A person you desire–a personal assistant or housekeeper. Enjoy them and stop wanting more. The flip-side to this is making it a life goal to give more. The story behind the picture below goes deep! I woke up early one morning and along my walk’s journey, I saw this yellow flower. I was moved by it’s beauty in the midst of the rocks. Later that day, my husband came inside with the flower as I was busy cleaning (feeling a little sorry for myself to be cleaning on Mother’s Day). His unknowing connection and small gift filled me. I had a choice to lament or embrace. I’m embarrassed to say I spent a little time lamenting, but looking back without judgment, God has spoken to my soul. All worth it. I wanted more on Mother’s Day, and I can say that the wanting of more took my eyes off the abundance I have.
7. Give more and be kind
Every day you can ask how can I cherish my spouse or loved one? Can I check the calendar? Can I send an encouraging message?
Kindness is totally free– a hug, a smile, an encouraging word, or silent mouth. Sometimes the greatest gift is your eye contact and ears listening.