Contentment is a word that's kind of easy to say, and pretty hard to achieve. And I'm not talking about the just-worked-out-now-I'm-happy-with-myself kind of contentment. Or the I-love-my-outfit contentment, but actual contentment. I think this is true for every Christian that real contentment lies in our attitude and hearts. Being content is a state, not a feeling. And honestly, I'm still learning what this means in my own life. But here are a couple things I learned that have helped with creating a daily habit and lifestyle of contentment.
4. Give Regularly // This kind of goes along with focusing on others. The sooner you realize your things are not actually yours (their God's!), the better you'll feel. The more you focus less on yourself and what you have, the more you'll be content with what the Lord has blessed you with.
5. Balance Your Life // This one is the most difficult for me. Making priorities and sticking to them. When you're able to put your life and relationships in perspective, it'll be easier for you to focus on the things that need attention, and places you might need to grow.
6. Worship is a Must // Whether you're worshipping through prayer, to worship music, or doing something else to worship God - to have a content life, you must live a worshipful one.
7. Reject Satan's Lies // The devil is out to steal, kill, and destroy you. He wants you to be afraid of the next thing that'll go wrong. He wants you to be anxious about finances. He wants you to not give your relationships to God. He wants your focus off of the true contentment only God can bring you! Be fully aware of Satan's lies and reject them! God is stronger than the lies, and YOU ARE GOD'S!
8. Stop Waiting // The word waiting could be interchangeable for comparing. I really think that we're waiting for our lives to get as good as the next guy's. We want and crave for our lives to get better, and we always want what we can't have. But I implore you to stop waiting for God to hand you something and be content with what you have (while continuing to work hard for what yo want).
9. You Can't Do It Alone // This one goes hand-in-hand with the first one. Jesus is the only way you will ever be truly content. You can be rich and think you're "happy". You can be poor and try everything to fill you up -- but you will never be fully content nor satisfied until you give your entire heart, soul, and mind to Jesus!
So, just an encouragement to you to accept that good things take time. Hard work is just a part of the recipe. Constant affirmation and praise for small steps is wanted, but might not be realistic (this one is hard for me to comprehend because I love all the words). Keep on keeping on. Life is hard. Pursuing dreams to create the life you want is harder. But perseverance and obedience to God's call can make the hard things bearable, and the harder things worth it.
But... the second thing I want encourage you with is... do not stay there! Feel those feelings, yes! But do not stay in them. Do something that brings you joy when you're feeling sad and defeated. Work harder and wipe your sweat with the towel you wanted to throw in on your dream. Be willing to accept the answer or silence from the creator and sustainer of your life (God). Listen with a grain of salt to your friends and family, most of them have your best interest at heart! Pick up one foot after the other and persevere. Personally, I have a hard time with this lesson, but I have never regretted persevering through a trail I've had.
So, if you're in a season, know that it is just a season. Know that God has you and be encouraged to keep going.
Being real is a struggle for me. I crave it from others, but it's hard to give someone the very real and raw side of me when I don't feel like they're going to give me the same thing in return. It's very for me to turn on the "charm" and to negate any talk that's deep. If I don't feel like you want to talk about deep things, I won't talk about deep things. I simply give what I get.
But we are not called to live like this, this is not how Jesus lived!
Jesus didn't worry about whether or not people were comfortable with his authenticity. Jesus wasn't waiting to make an eternal impact. Jesus was born perfect and lived a perfect life -- therefore we see in His like that being real came natural to Him. He was tender, compassionate, loving, merciful, understanding, real, authentic, prayerful and holy.
So in our lives (speaking to myself here), I wasn't born perfect because I am human, but I will live my life learning to reflect Jesus. Whether it's comfortable and socially acceptable or not, I will strive during my life to reflect Jesus in everything I do and say. I don't just want to be "real", I want to live worthy of the calling I have received.
Honestly, it's human nature to feel anxious about the future. But in your heart, when you stay in these feelings of anxiety, fear, and loneliness. Satan will attack you, so be ready! The enemy thrives when you think God has left you, he (Satan) loves it when you believe God is not true to Himself or to His word. So, you need to be aware of these tactics from the enemy and be ready to combat it. Satan will try to get you to take control. He will try to convince you that God has abandoned you and that you need to take the reigns of your life back, after all, it is YOUR life. When Satan comes, and he will, your job is to tell him that "It's actually not your life at all, it's God's!" In these moments, lean close into Jesus. Even though everything around you might seem dark, God and His words are the only light you need to follow.
A couple months ago I tried to start a podcast... actually I did start a podcast! Except... I stopped. One day, I overheard a conversation I wasn't supposed to hear (Yes, I was slightly eavesdropping and nothing good comes from that btw! Don't do it!) And To make a long story short, someone I thought supported me disapproved and to make matters worse, didn't say it to my face or discuss it with me. But here's the thing -- they're not the bad guy, and DO NOT feel sorry for me. Because I felt sorry for me and let one person run the show. I let the fears and opinions of others keep me from doing what I believe God called me to do. Granted, I don't think I launched the podcast at the proper time, but I do think I was being obedient. But I stopped because two people thought I should. I had the support of so many people, but those two voices (probably more, lol) were louder than the rest, so I stopped!
One thing I think we can all learn from this movie is to yes, chase your dreams, and to dream BIG. But I think another important lesson we can get from this movie is the importance of surrounding yourself with people who get your vision and who are rooting for you to succeed! Have people in your life who will call you out, cheer for you, pray for you, and who have your best interest at heart! Because like the old saying goes, "Those who don't matter. And those who matter don't mind" (All people matter! But I pray you're picking up what I'm putting down) Community is important. A godly, supportive community is everything.
About 2 years ago, I read a book called Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn. I don't think I would recommend this book to anyone. Although, I adore Gillian Flynn's writing and her uncanny ability to think the story is going one way, then make dynamic and sudden twists and turns. I think this book was a little too dark for me, (my fault, I mean "DARK Places" I really should've seen all that coming. She was literally as up front as she could've been-- I should've judged a book by it's cover.) ANYWAYS, I will spare you the nitty-gritty details, but this book had all the things that made your skin crawl: lying, rape, bullying, murder, someone being pressured into Satanism, etc. So. Much. Darkness. So much sin in one book.
Sometimes, in my life, it's kind of difficult for me to point out sin. It’s in my life, daily, yes. But it’s different when it’s all together, page-by-page, staring at your face, collected in one book. When each character is worse than the next, and the story keeps getting twisted and darker and darker.
Some of y'all might ask me why I kept reading it when it made me feel some type of way. There's a few reasons why I kept reading it... 1. How did it end!? I must know! What happened to these poor characters and their families? What was their fate? 2. I kind of like the fact that it made me feel something deeper than the usual book, even if that something was not a great emotion. I remember my heart feeling so heavy after each time I read it. The sin in the book was so heavy and dark and everywhere. The main characters were put in terrible circumstances and they had choices to make. The book made me feel for these characters and their life circumstance. It may sound odd, but the book made me pray more. The book made me seek Christ more. And the book made me aware of the sin in my life.
I have a hard time admitting I read a dark book, and I would not recommend it to anyone, because it really could put you in a dark place. But after finishing the book, I remember praying, "God, thank you for the cross. Thank you for my salvation. And thank you that I don't have to spend eternity in a place that's even more awful than this book." Because ultimately, yes, the book made me feel terrible for the sin in these fictional characters' lives, but it made me think and changed my thinking. How broken am I for the sin around me? How joyful and thankful am I that Jesus overcame death and every terrible sin in that book and in my own life? That's why I continued reading.
I love fashion. I love to look cute. I think there's a certain confidence I get from putting effort into the way I look. When I look good, I feel good. (Not all the time, but it helps me!) HOWEVER, I want you to know that it's not all about looking good on the outside. It's about looking good on the inside! It's about feeding your soul with the goodness of Jesus!
There is nothing wrong with looking cute and feeling cute! But I want you to know that you can be the prettiest person on the outside -- you can wear designer labels, you can volunteer at an animal shelter -- you can look incredible on the outside. But unless your insides match aka unless you're feeding yourself with God's word, unless you're praying and talking to God, unless you're serving for Jesus, unless you have accountability in small groups, unless you're growing in His word. If you're not doing those things to feed you're soul, all you'll ever be is eye candy. Girl, be soul food instead.