Every year, I choose a word.
A word I believe the Lord is trying to teach me. It becomes a mantra, so-to-speak. Usually, the word finds me versus the other way around, which I think is a fun, mysterious game of provision the Lord plays with His kids. Giving us what we don’t know we need. Giving us clues to how He thinks, what He values and how well He knows us. Giving us the thing that transforms our hearts to be more like Him, like He promised. Giving us what our heart longs for more than our minds even know. Teaching us to know His heart towards us. It’s a beautiful game of treasure-hunting with the Lord.
What’s funny is that each of those years the Lord showed me each of those words. But there was another shadow word that was often the means by which I arrived at the word I wanted. In 2018, God showed me beauty in discipline. In 2019, God showed me freedom through surrender. And in 2019, God showed me joy in pain.
This year was painful. Culturally, we all felt the pandemic level of pain. More death, disappointment, isolation, and grief than our world as known in recent years. Personally, we all experienced 2019 differently. Pain was universal, but the form of it was unique.
How are YOU doing with that? With the pain you experienced.
For me, I’m a bit shell-shocked. I told my therapist the other day I was a little nervous to pick a word because I was afraid of the shadow word that God would use to teach me the flowery word I put on Instagram. I’ve had a few words brewing in my brain. One was abundance. Another was hope. But then the real word came up of contentment.
Contentment: state of happiness and satisfaction.
That sounds lovely, but what does it mean?? At what cost, Lord?
Philippians 4: 11-14
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble…”
Does anyone else get scared of contentment? This weird, counter-intuitive fear that if I get all cozy where I am, that’s all I’ll get? If I learn a way of enjoyment in the life God has gifted me right now, that my 39-year-old life will be what I have at 40…or 45…or 53? It’s thought pattern that reveals my faulty view of God. That I view God as someone who gives the bare minimum. Who only gives what is required. Who gets exasperated when I ask for more. Who maybe even accuses me of the reason why He will withhold something good because I failed to do something…
That is not the character of God I have fallen in love with. He is categorically different, but my heart is still anxious that He may turn out to actually be like that….
While I have always loved my life—wouldn’t trade a single second of it, there are elements of loss embedded in the things forfeited and dreams unrealized. I still have big dreams. Dreams I am unrelenting in at least stating, even if I don’t get them.
I think God is okay with me still dreaming. I don’t believe contentment and dreaming are enemy words. I think, perhaps, what I am learning is that God wants to dream with me. He doesn’t want me to pursue my dreams solo—to earn it by my own effort or will—or to manipulate my way into getting it. He wants to give me my dreams. He wants to teach me as I get to know His heart more intimately, and as He gets to show me how much He already knows mine.
I have seen women who embody contentment. Maybe not perfectly…but there is a steadiness to these women. A strength wrapped in grace. An honesty that is vulnerable and courageous. I do want my good and perfect Savior to teach me this way of being. I want my sweet, playful, and comforting Heavenly Father to teach me the reps required to be made like this. Made like Him.
Cheers to 2021. Praying contentment for the beautiful life He has gifted you, and the beautiful dreams still tucked away in your hearts. God cares about both. He cares about you.