With a crowbar in one muddy hand and a shovel in the other, I lifted my eyes and voice toward the sky. Heavy rain pelted my face and I cried out, “God, what are we doing here?!”
It was Labor Day this year and my husband had started a project over the weekend, hoping to be done in one day. Instead, it was still going on through the holiday. Renting a trencher, he had intended for us to trench a long ditch and lay a pipe down quite a distance to our barn so that we could have water and electricity for animal care someday soon. A lesson was learned about the cost effectiveness of doing certain types of work yourself vs. hiring a professional. This lesson had to be lived out and it was going to have its bitter end in a harsh rain and evening thunderstorm.
The trencher just couldn’t get through certain rocky spots, and there were other pipes that had to be safely dug around. These areas had to be finished before the heavy rains filled the trenches with water and washed away all of the hard work already completed. It was necessary to work through the beginning of the storm so that the pipes could be put in the ground. We worked feverishly. In case you are wondering, I wasn’t feeling very super content!
The kids and I had already been struggling a bit with missing a planned family getaway on Labor Day. On top of that, I was now wrestling with feeling frustrated with my husband allowing this to take so long into the holiday and the time of rain. Now I felt that we were in danger. Danger toward my family always stirs up fierce feelings of mama bear-irritation in me! Breaking up mud with a crowbar in a storm with lightning goes against everything wise in me. Allowing my man to push a giant metal trencher in the same situation drove me mad. I yelled my disapproval to him (he had ear muffs on to protect his ears from the sound of the motor) and he yelled, “PRAY!” In that moment, that just didn’t feel satisfying enough, but I did it. I cried out all covered in mud to the One who could save us. Thankfully, we survived and I can laugh a bit at our drama.
On the way home that evening, the children brought up feeling sad about the weekend. They had so looked forward to getting to go to the lake we had intended to visit. I felt confident in saying that sometimes it’s more important to work than to be entertained. This one was one of those times in our family. This was an important time to stand by our papa and help him when he was stuck. This was a time we will be able to look back to someday and be glad that we did the long, hard, scary thing. They agreed.
Yes, I was able to take that long view at the end of the evening. But I’m not proud of some of my thoughts and words in the moment while I was sliding in the mud. Maybe you, the reader, think I had every right to be upset or worried. As a follower of Jesus though, I want to move toward a higher level of contentment…always. This story remains in my heart as an illustration of all of the other times I get discontent in life.
In this story, the woman digging was not fully trusting in God. In this story, she prayed only after her husband yelled, “PRAY!” In this story, the woman was irritated at the situation at hand. She was driven to keep going by love for her husband, but maybe not as much by trust in God. In this story the woman was discontent.
I’ve come to the conclusion that irritability, anger, fear, and frustration often stems from discontentedness. Discontentedness so often stems from an inability, unwillingness, or lack of awareness to have a godly or biblical view of a situation. It stems from an inability, unwillingness, or lack of awareness to think about the future and others’ current needs because MY needs aren’t being met at the moment. It often can be boiled down to selfish discontentedness. An attitude of not taking God’s eternal view of circumstances and people, and instead focusing in on me and my needs.
“Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
-Colossians 3:2 (ESV)
Our level of contentment is impacted by our perspective.
Is our perspective eternal, Jesus-focused, God-informed, and on things above or is it on circumstances here on earth?
Do you feel irritation, resentment, bitterness, and frustration about your condition or situation? If so, it’s OK for this second! Take a deep breath and recognize the feelings as alarm bells going off to tell you something. When an alarm goes off, we do something…we don’t stay put! As followers of Christ, we can..we must..take a deep breath and turn from Wasteland thinking to Graceland thinking.
We can memorize a verse about contentment like the one above. We can pray for help from the Holy Spirit to give us a new perspective. Here is an example from scripture of what we can set our minds on:
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” -1 Peter 1:13-21 (ESV)
Is there a perspective shift that needs to happen for you? Is there a circumstance that challenges you to keep your gaze on Jesus?
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
I’m learning so many new things on contentment, please stay with me as I write more on this topic next week!
Linking up with these awesome bloggers this week!