“Dear God, please don’t come back
before I get to be a teenager.”
This was the very mature and wise prayer I remember praying when I was 10 years old. In my mind, teenagers had all the fun, and I was worried the Lord would come back before I was able to experience the joy of being a teen. If I were just able to be a teen, I would be so happy.
Fast-forward three years, and I was a teenager. And everyone who has been 13 at one point or another can remember that it’s not exactly the best year of one’s life. Braces, acne, the joys of being an adolescent…this was not what I bargained for! So once again I prayed that the Lord would hold off for a few more years, till I was 16. At least I would be able to drive by then!
And, as I’m sure you can already guess, by the time I turned 16 I just wanted a boyfriend. If I could just have a boyfriend, I thought, that’s when ultimate happiness will kick in. However, when I finally got a boyfriend at 19, I realized that I just wanted to get married. And of course, now that I’m married, I really want to have kids.
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you felt like you simply couldn’t be happy without it? As you just read, I have struggled with those feelings for almost my entire life. But every time I got what I thought I wanted, I was left still wanting more.
That’s when I realized:
I will never have true joy without
learning the art of contentment.
Ok, so we need contentment. But where do we even begin to learn how to be content? Here are a few things I have learned in my lifelong battle for contentment:
- You will never find true contentment and fulfillment in anything or anyone EXCEPT the Lord.
- Don’t ever compare your life to someone else’s. By doing so, you either become prideful because you feel better than them, or you feel envious of them. It’s a lose-lose situation!
- Being content does not mean settling for less than God’s best for you. Going after the dreams the Lord inspires in you is a good thing! We just need to have an attitude of contentment as we follow the Lord’s leading.
- We can have contentment in any circumstance! It might sound crazy, because life can be downright hard sometimes. However, I like to remember the words of Paul which he wrote while he was in prison:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. | Philippians 4:12.
What is this “secret of being content” that Paul mentions? Although he doesn’t actually say it, I have a pretty good guess at what it is. And this one word could change your life:
It is possible to be content in any circumstance. When we give thanks to the Lord for the place He has us in life, our attitude starts to change. We are able to rejoice because we have learned to be content, regardless of where we are or what we have.
I have not yet mastered this art completely. I still struggle with wanting more, with not being thankful for the blessings the Lord gives me. But I am thankful the Lord has grace and patience as we all strive to master the art of contentment.
This quote by Frederick Keonig sums it up pretty well: