John also loves to read books, mostly books that help him understand and relate to God. He challenged Amy and I to make a goal for reading before the summer got here. We have oodles of books in our office. I have tons to choose from, any topic from trusting God to biblical femininity to prayer to leadership. I have started books upon books upon books. So picking another one didn't seem right. So I asked John to pick one out for me. John is my husband, but also my coworker, really my boss and my best friend. If anyone knows what would really be good for me, knowing my past, present and the one who has to live with me forever, it is him. He had full reign to give me a book on being a better wife, or on leading a team in ministry (a new season that is upon us) or a cookbook for that matter. But after thinking about it for a minute, and getting pretty energetic at the idea. He ran into his office and came out with a book we had picked up at a thrift store. It was a book published in 1645, titled The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.
Let me tell you. It has been good. There is something refreshing about learning from people who lived in a completely different time. Their relationships with God were deeply real and also simple.
This is an area I need growth in for sure. Who doesn't? But it's a deep need of mine in this season of my life. And I am learning that no matter my circumstances, I will struggle with contentment. So right now, today I need to pursue it despite my circumstances.
Something that I have been thinking through lately to apply this is to see sources of discontentment in my life. Where do I loose sight of God's goodness? What sucks my time away from what's actually happening in my life? I seem to be attached to my phone or iPad. In the in between times of my day I am browsing Facebook, reading my favorite blogs, posting or looking at pics on Instagram, or pining on pinterest. All of these things are good. In and of themselves can be used for great things relationally, creatively, even spiritually. But for me, the this time, it's almost the opposite. I wish that knowing exactly what others doing would lead me to rejoicing for them. That reading a strangers blog would make me a better person, or looking at ideas would make me create. And it has, our favorite music has come from reading a blog, I have great recipes from pinterest. I am challenged when people use their blogs for great purposes. But often it leaves me feeling less, that my life is less, my story is less, what I do is less. And that is my fault, a twist in perspective for me. As much as I have ignored it and kept updating, perusing and pining, I am not getting better. My heart might just be sinking more.
I was sharing some of these thoughts with John and he mentioned a specific chapter in a book from one of his favorite authors, A. W. Tozer. He has a chapter about the great god of entertainment in his book The Root of the Righteous. He quotes a German philosopher who said, "that the more a man had in his own heart, the less he will require from the outside; excessive need for support from without is proof of the bankruptcy of the inner man."
That is where I am. I search, even subconsciously, to be filled by reading up on the latest from someone cool on their blog. And the other side of it, my own blog, I spend too much energy hoping that I present myself and my life as desirable. Or even in my discontentment I will log on to Facebook, knowing it will exasperate the problem. Rather than running to truth, scripture about God and His plan for me. I pin things on pinterest that I will never own, or try or make or be, how is that supposed to lead me to contentment?
I see others turn these things into such tools of encouragement. I see people cheer others on. I see people "like" it all and be a virtual thumbs up or pat on the back or prayer warrior. So great. I would love that to be my response. But I wonder if I need to grow in order to get there. And grow away from my blog, away from other blogs, away from updates and pins. I need to fill up the bank of my inner man on God's word. I need to focus on the people right in front of me. I need to be thankful for my story. And I can't do it while focusing on everyone else's. I am like Eve in the garden. I have pleasures galore at my fingertips and instead I can't take my eyes off of the one tree, that season of life, motherhood, finished projects, perfect hair, I could go on and on. So I am removing the tree from my vision. Temporarily, who knows. But at last until I can look at it with compassion and joyful eyes rather than greed or longing.
And it's a fearful thing for this little heart. I worry about missing out. I worry about being forgotten. Silly I know. Sad even? But true. I care more about my image than I would like you to believe. But there it is. Beans are all over the place.
So for now, I am going on a virtual diet. I am cutting down the dead trees. I am doing a time wasting cleanse. In the hope that when I am going through withdrawals, I turn to the people around me. That I pick up a real project that I have left alone. I will pray to the One who will never forget me. I will read the truth. I will fill up my inner man. I will learn this art of contentment.