Practicing Contentment

Look at this face of contentment!

It's the 30th and I've been mulling over this post for most of January. You might have heard of choosing a word for your year rather than making resolutions that you intend (or not?) to keep. Supposedly this woman started all of this in 2009. Forgive me for not hearing of her until I googled "Word of the Year" this morning. She's a little too floaty-outer-spacey for me. You can even download her tool for finding your official word if that's your sort of thing. I guess I'm the last one on the train for this movement, huh?

I've been thinking a lot this month about what God has been working out in me since Zoƫ was born. Many words come to mind: patience, surrender, joy, contentment.

I've always loved this verse:

I am not saying this because I am in need, 
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 
Philippians 4:11, NIV

I loved it because it was a good reminder of what matters. This verse has always been a nudge in my side to remember what counts in this world. What counts isn't things. It isn't accomplishments or recognition. It isn't having a house that belongs in the Pottery Barn catalog. It isn't even people or community. When life seemed not be going the way I planned it to, I would think of this verse and remind myself to be content.

This season of my life has been different and I've struggled with feeling content. Some days I am. Some days I'm not, and those days I'm acutely aware of my need to be. I read this verse again one day recently and something stuck out to me.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 

Not I am content, but I have learned to be content. There's a difference here. The addition of the word "learned" implies a process. The author isn't saying that contentment was something he always had. To the contrary, it's something he had to learn.

Right now I'm teaching myself how to sew. Nothing I create turns out perfect. I've had to rip out stitches and seams from every single project. And while I want my sewing skills to be better than they are, I know that they won't get better unless I practice and push through the hard parts of the projects (and use Google to figure out what overstitching means.) But of course each project is a little easier, because I've practiced.

Why can't I wrap my mind around the fact that living a life of faith also takes practice? Contentment takes practice. Humility takes practice. Putting others' needs before my own takes practice. Joy takes practice. Each day is a little easier, because I'm practicing all these things.

In 2012, I plan to practice contentment. What's your word this year?

1 comment:

  1. My word is Humility. I am pretty sure it was last year, too, but that's okay. It's apparent I haven't mastered it yet… still practicing.
    And for a moment there, I was a bit jealous… there was no Google nor Youtube when I learned to sew… and even now, I'm more inclined to just sew something myself rather than buy a pattern and follow directions.
    Hmmmm. I wonder if a lack of humility {ahem… authority issues} has anything to do with that??
    Great post. All the best as you strive for joy. xxoo


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