The secret of contentment
"The secret of contentment is the realization that life is a gift, not a right. Next to faith, this is the highest art — to be content with the calling in which God has placed you."
— Martin Luther
I can remember a couple years ago when I was reading a Priscilla Shrirer book, and I got to the chapter on contentment. In my mind, I was just going through the chapter as if it were a Dr. Seuss book that I had read it a million times and knew I did not need a lesson on contentment because I am the epitome of content. After all, I drive a minivan with plenty of door-dings, I am incredibly low maintenance and I am HAPPY... usually. ;) Then I came to the section on contentment and she proceeds to describe the discontent person as, "Always looking toward the next moment, the next month, the next event, rarely allowing herself the privilege of fully participating and embracing the happenings that were right before her for that day." UGH. Are you kidding me right now Priscilla? Me? Discontent?!?! Yep. As soon as I discovered this flaw you can bet I made it my challenge to master contentment. But does contentment just mean happiness in your current situation?
We lived in a tiny 900 sq ft home for 7 years and had very little income. On a small, single salary we owned a home (with 2 little ones) and Josh and I made the choice not to get a single credit card or get help from the government. I am not knocking those who do, because I know it is a blessing to many and I am thankful for those opportunities in our country, however it was a personal choice we made. Paul talks to the church in Philippi about learning to be content whatever the situation (Phillipians 4:11) — I had discovered what it was like to be in need and to have little — and then to have plenty, and by golly, I was going to master this theme of contentment. Right now we live in the heartbeat of Springfield within 5 minutes of the grocery store and Andy's Frozen Custard, could I get any more content? I am so very content. The moment Josh started randomly googling acreage or houses for sale I would walk away and leave the room. There are 2 problems with this:
- I was forming a wall of defiance in my heart.
- I was setting myself up for animosity between my myself and my husband.
When contentment stands in the way of growth and obedience it is no longer a mastered virtue — it is a prideful setback.
That is exactly where I found myself this summer. After searching for land for over a year and coming to the realization that we would not be able to find exactly what we wanted in a location that sounded desirable WITH internet (my husband owns a digital agency, so, no internet is a deal breaker), We circled back around to a neighborhood we had looked at several times in our hometown of Nixa. I wish I could pinpoint the reason, but ideally, I wish we could stay in Springfield and for some reason, always hated the thought of moving back to Nixa. To be completely honest, I looked at this particular neighborhood and felt like I would be judged by many as pretentious and "uppity" and I was consumed with worry of what others would think of us. Not at all concerned about going where God has called us.
I fought God in my heart saying, "I am content! Isn't that what you want? Why would you place this desire on my husband's heart if contentment is such a high virtue in life? I am content in living in this very house we are in for the rest of our lives!"
Here are the 2 things God spoke to my heart:
1. Contentment does not mean comfort. When you are too content in your comfort, you are not willing to go where God has called you.
2. Defiance is not submissive. By being defiant in your heart about this desire in your husband's heart, you are not submitting to the leadership of your husband which is of great importance.
Ouch. But here is the beauty of it all. Once I hashed it out with the Lord, I began to see the ways in which he was working and little glimpses of why he might want us to move to this specific location. So as I am still taking baby steps, I can do so in faith knowing that the Lord goes before us and moving and building a different house is not about getting bigger and better things, it is about being obedient.
Josh taught Jude this family motto at the age of 2 1/2: "To whom much is given, to whom much is required" as in Luke 12: "...Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required and from him to whom they entrusted much they will demand the more." In my super awesome study bible by R.C. Sproul he makes note under this verse that "People are punished for failing to do right as well as for doing wrong. Ignorance can be blame worthy when there is opportunity to know what is required."
Have you caught your breath yet?
When you are following Christ and the Holy Spirit's leading to know His will for your life, but fail to follow through on the very act of obedience God has the right and authority to give and to take away. I want to live a life that reflects contentment through obedience in every situation and that is my prayer.
So as we navigate building a custom home from scratch, we do it all prayerfully with every bit of intentionality from structure to design. Our heart is to create an atmosphere where our family can be close together, and that others will feel welcomed in our home and see the light and glory of Christ. Nothing more.
So get ready for many home building posts as I keep you updated on our progress. I love, love, love home projects and this is by far our biggest project yet, which is why I put a stop to any other projects on our current home. I will most likely post several updated pictures on Instagram so be sure to follow me @happylittlemessblog. I would also LOVE to hear any tips you may have on home building, so fire away!
Now as promised, here are our family pictures that my awesome brother-in-law took for us this fall. Enjoy!