Thursday, September 19, 2013

Contentment: A Guest Post

We've been enjoying highlighting some amazing sisters who are different from us: older, wiser, more experienced (Dene and Netagene).  Today though we wanted to share our space with an equally amazing sister who is like us in more ways than we can count.  Let's see...she's a young mom; she's got this adorable little girl; she's beautiful inside and out and lives in the lovely land of wait...maybe not so similar.  Please after you read this lovely piece all about being content, skip over to her blog and enjoy more of the adventures, of Velle, Tony and Arddun.

I have not been enjoying my holiday.

This sounds dreadfully posh and ungrateful once you realise that I am typing this while intermittently nursing a cold Coke Zero and drinking in the splendiferous view that only a five-star resort in Fiji could conjure. It is postcard-perfect here. From where I am lounging, there is nothing between me and the ocean except a thin glass balustrade. Coconut trees strategically dotted along the coastline by wise hotel developers in times past now sway lazily behind me in the breeze. It looks and appears ridiculously idyllic here.

And yet if I'm honest, I've not been enjoying my holiday hugely.

This lack of satisfaction has been gnawing at me for days, because it has only served to confirm what I think I've always dreaded about myself: that my yearning for relaxation and emotional rest has been relentlessly thwarted by my inability to be content. Thing is, I have attended enough bible classes, read enough of the same scripture verses, and heard enough sermons to know better. Contentment does not lie in what I surround myself with, but in Who I surrender myself to.

And yet, I have subconsciously been waiting MONTHS for my family escape to exotic Fiji so I could surround myself with pretty sand and dulcet serenades. And then I waited in vain for the peace to come.

You know that bumper sticker which goes, "People who say you can't buy happiness don't know where to shop"? I've sometimes wondered if that applied to King Solomon. I mean, he's the one guy on the face of the earth who had every material need satisfied a hundred times over. And yet he bellyached through an entire book about how everything was vanity and nothing but smoke. And I gotta admit, when we went through lean times, I wanted to belt King Solomon around the ears a bit with a purse.

But here I am, bellyaching about Fiji.

On a related thought, my husband has turned into a Toddler Whisperer when it comes to nap time for our two-year-old daughter. Arddun is a joy and our heart's song. She also has great difficulty keeping still, not unlike her mother. And she has always resisted nap time.

Tony, however, has stumbled upon a trick where he'd place his hands gently but firmly on Arddun's arm and leg, holding her in place in her cot. Whenever she feels the urge to wriggle, his firm hands holding her in position is the gentle reminder that her father is still sitting by her side, but she is to remain absolutely still. The trick, it turns out, is to keep her still long enough for sleep to take over. When she stays still, she can finally properly relax and experience true rest.

I think it's a lot like that with God and us. There are going to be times when He sees us winding ourselves up into a frenzy, not unlike an overtired toddler who desperately needs sleep but fights it irrationally. Instinctively. This fighting, it's counter-intuitive... and just because it's instinctive, doesn't always make it sensible.

And then God sometimes decides that enough is enough. His child is overtired, and he's taking over. He guides us into a position, and then he places his firm but gentle hands on us so we have little alternative except to keep still. And then the sleep, the rest finally comes.

My emotions and my soul has been gurgling in turmoil for months, because I am still grieving - for deaths not so old and painfully, painfully new; for illnesses scary and unpredictable that others near me and suffering.

And yet I know I have so much to be thankful for.

I wonder now if the counting of one's blessings is a way of feeling around the bounds and reassuring oneself that our Father is still there. Because I've tried crazy-busyness for fulfillment, I've tried ranting and railing for catharsis, and I've now tried inducing calm and meditation through picturesque surrounds. But perhaps the sooner I understand just how much grace I have and continue to receive, and the sooner I get over the illogical way mercy works, and the sooner I surrender myself to the One trying to hold me in place... the sooner that beautiful, soul-quenching rest can wash over me. 


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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