Contentment doesn’t start in the exotic; contentment starts ordinary.
It’s born in the everyday moment – in gratitude for the little things. Turning routine into ritual and making habit the rhythm of a heart at peace.
Learn to choose joy when it doesn’t come easy and it will surprise you when you’re not expecting it.
“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4 MSG
I chuckled at how I probably looked staring contemplatively out of the bus window in the middle of 40 chattering, laughing kids with the wind whipping wild my curls while some kind of chill indie techno pop or whatever blared over the speakers, but there was something about the way the afternoon sunlight blazed golden across the tall grasses in that field and I couldn’t stop staring.
I soaked up the moment soul-hungry and mentally lingered, wondering at how underrated the Midwest actually is.
There’s something magical about camp season. When you escape to a piece of no man’s land tucked somewhere in the hills of who-knows-where with spotty cell phone reception and a gazillion sweaty kids for a week to run ridiculous relay races in the blazing heat and throw water balloons at each other that are actually filled with warm chocolate milk. Such fun.
But in all seriousness it’s kind of my favorite. And I kind of cry a little every time I have to leave because there’s nothing quite like getting away from normal life for a week or two (or four) to hang out with cool people and be silly and love on Jesus to the sound of an acoustic guitar and cicadas.
The funny thing is that I had some great plans going into this summer. I was going to work this camp, get into this relationship, apply for this job, move into this apartment…it was going to be perfect. I had it all figured out – my life for the next couple years. All in the name of loving Jesus, right?
Well, something started to unravel in me. Somewhere between a few certain whiny campers and another thunderstorm and mud all over everything (because we camped out in the woods for a week and it rained the whole time and I’ve never seen so much mud in my life) and soaked sleeping bags and sleep-deprivation. Suddenly here was the end of my rope and things weren’t working out and I couldn’t do this anymore.
But Father kept whispering softly to me – in quiet hammock moments, in laughter and conversation around the campfire, on muddy trails, through falling rain. It was half a week later that I stopped long enough to listen, to lean in despite my disappointment and frustrations. His words came gentle, “Silly child, trusting in your own plans. Don’t you know to put your hope in Me alone? Do you really think you know what’s best for you?”
His probing laid me open and the next few days felt a little raw. It was a gradual releasing – of my plans and stubbornness – a softening. I thought I had pliable been all along. But there I was, “my” life and “my” future in my own hands again and it’s never comfortable to peel back the fingers of a clenched fist.
It didn’t make sense to let go. Because my plans made sense. They would work out perfectly with what I wanted and how I was going to live out the things God had placed on my heart if He would just work with me…
Yeah. Sounds rather ridiculous when you think about it that way.
So I let go. Even if it meant doing the same things I’ve been doing for the past two years and living in my parents’ basement until I’m thirty. (Okay not really, but that’s how it felt if I’m honest….And don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but you know what I mean…)
With that releasing came such a peace.
Because if I was letting go it’s because God had something better in store and I’ve walked with my Father long enough to know He never disappoints.
I packed my suitcase that Saturday morning after camp was over and the goodbyes were said, and strangely enough I found myself looking forward to getting back into the routine of my life – housework, homework, and afternoons in the office.
But I come home to a surprise I was not expecting. It explains the releasing, the heart conditioning, and the hopeful expectancy for the future.