I’m so ready for fall. Crisp, cold, cozy sweater, boot wearing fall. Unfortunately, around here at least, the weather refuses to cooperate. The extended forecast continues to tease, promising lower temps, but so far we are still averaging in the high eighties. My long-sleeve tops hang in my closet unworn, and I’ve yet to even take my brand new riding boots out of their box. I’m tired of my jean shorts and tank tops, but when I try wearing jeans I sweat right through them. Ugh. I suppose this wish for change isn’t uncommon. I feel the same tug every March too, when winter has completely worn out its welcome but spring drags its feet. Is it God-given, this desire for change, for something new? Or is it my spirit of discontentment showing its ugly head here in the waiting?
This tension extends beyond the changing seasons. There are several changes looming on the horizon for our little family. Charlotte has one more year before school begins. Tessa is gaining more words and is right on the cusp of talking in sentences. We are seriously considering buying a bigger house. But although all of these anticipated changes are still in the future, for some reason knowing they are getting closer makes it harder for me to hang on to my contentment in the here and now. I’m constantly running a pro and con list through my mind of which schooling option would be best for Charlotte. I get frustrated when Tessa can’t tell me what she wants and I have to guess (it doesn’t help that her inability to communicate causes many a tantrum). I find myself scrolling through the new house listings on Zillow, even though I know we aren’t planning on starting our house hunt until next spring.
So how do I fight this creeping discontentment? How do I live in this moment fully and joyfully, waiting patiently for the change that is coming without wishing away my current circumstances? It’s not possible, not within my limited ability. But I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me. According to God’s Word this kind of contentment is not only possible, but is God’s will for my life. But how? I don’t have any fool-proof, three-step method for conquering discontentment. But I know the fight is intertwined with my struggle to daily die to my own will so that I can live for Christ instead. I have found a couple things that help. They aren’t earth-shattering, in fact they are so well-worn bits of advice they are almost cliches. But that doesn’t make them less true.
First, I must practice gratitude. When I find my heart longing for something new and different, be it a new shirt or a new house, it’s helpful to instead think about what I love about my wardrobe or the house we live in right now. When I wish Tessa could use her words to tell me what she wants, I can be so thankful for the cuddles and kisses she uses to show her love for me. When I’m agonizing over which choice would be best for kindergarten (public school, private, homeschool??) I can be thankful for the wonderful options and freedom to choose, and that we don’t have to make the decision yet!
It sounds so simple, but it’s not always easy. I don’t always have a good attitude when I list my blessings. In fact I’m usually down-right huffy about it. But God commands me to be grateful, (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and when I obey this command I can feel my attitude shift. Not right away, but slowly I feel my fists unclench and my heart soften as I seek to follow God’s plans rather than try to forge my own path.
Second, I turn on some Jesus music. Listening to Psalms being sung and old hymns put to new rhythms redirects my thoughts and lifts my eyes from my own dissatisfaction back to the Source of full, abundant life. Music affects our home in profound ways. Charlotte prefers fast songs with a clear beat that she can dance to, and Tessa perks up and claps her hands as soon as she hears a beautiful melody. I can feel my shoulders relax and my spirits lift as I sing along with my favorite soulful ballads. I’ve found I can lighten the mood in our home just by turning on my favorite worship playlist on Spotify.
Such small, simple practices, but they can work a big change in the position of my heart. How about you? Are you struggling with contentment? Do you have any tried and true ways you foster peace and joy in the waiting time? I’d love to hear your thoughts!