Sunday, February 27, 2011

Choosing Contentment

In just a little over a day, another month will have passed us by and a new one will begin. My statement and hope about November being "new beginings" didn't quite turn out ANYTHING like I expected.  With that in mind, I am a bit hesitant to think about the coming month in terms of new beginnings.  I'm not even one that jumps on the bandwagon of making New Year's resolutions.  I've been bit.  I've been stung. I don't want my hopes dashed and I don't want disappointments. 

However, as much as I am trying to push the thought of "new beginnings" out of my mind since that brings up painful memories, I keep coming back to it.  I am ready.  I am ready to be vulnerable and ask God for those new beginnings again.  I am looking forward to March being "our" month----our month for fresh starts. 

Hopefully, (can you hear the begging and pleading in my voice!!!!) the weather will begin to improve and winter will begin to slip into the background and spring will bloom in it's place.  We've probably had less than 10 days in the last 3 months that we didn't have significant snow on the ground.  The sun shining has been at a premium and on those days I've literally had mesh marks imprinted on my forehead from pressing my face against the back door screen soaking it in. 

With the hope of spring comes the feeling of renewal.  I am so past being ready for that physically, emotionally, and most importantly spiritually.  There is no doubt that our list of difficulties and heartbreak has been overwhelming.  Unfortunately, we are not alone.  Some of my dearest friends are battling hard times, but they TOO are pressing onward. 

The common thread?  CONTENTMENT.  Contentment is a CHOICE.  It's waking up every morning and truly thanking God for the blessings He has provided.  It's looking far beyond what we see that is lacking and focusing on what we do have.  It's about looking beyond the circumstances and looking inward.

Contentment is often robbed by unmet expectations, dashed dreams or unfulfilled hopes. Yet, contentment is our choice. Do we focus on our circumstances or on God?

I KNOW how easy it is to focus on those unmet expectations and unfilfilled hopes.  On my worst days, the ones that depression creeps back in and wants to make my heart and mind it's home, the commonality is the fact that I've focused my eyes on circumstances instead of God.  It's easy to do.  As a matter of fact, it IS the EASY thing to do.   Those are the days that EVERYTHING falls apart.  Murphy's Law takes over.

The days that are the best, the ones that my heart feels most complete are the ones that I've kept my focus TRULY on Christ.  My eyes are connected to His and I'm not looking down at the water to see if I'm going to sink.    Even after all this time, that is STILL hard to do.  Even though EVERYTHING in me KNOWS that without a doubt----I still lose that focus. 

Perhaps, March would be better suited to be a month of "new growth".  Isn't that what new beginnings REALLY are?  We are praying that March brings answers to some tough decisions we are trying to make----ones that have no clear cut answer.   We are seeking to reconnect our battered faith and connecting to each other in more powerful ways.   We are puposely seeking to stop comparing ourselves to others and being CONTENT with what we have and what we are blessed with.  We are seeking to proactively work together to heal wounds, build bridges, and break down walls.   We, together as a family and individually, are trying to retrain our minds to focus our eyes on God in EVERY circumstance. 

Many days I've told the kids that today may not be a good day in regards to the fact that I'm physically struggling or that my heart was really broken but that I was CHOOSING to move forward.  I want them to see that though I am struggling in their eyes, that I am relying on God to carrying me through until my feet are on solid ground again.  What better tool could they learn first hand?   If we are constantly surrounded by good circumstances, how would our faith ever grow?  Hopefully we are learning together that contentment comes from our faith in God and not by our circumstances. 

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