In kindergarten I had a close friend in Primary school who used to hug me good morning before she went into class. My four year old self couldn’t wait to wear that school uniform and scrunchie and be a real ‘big girl’ just like her.
But when I was in Primary School, I couldn’t wait to become a high-school student and have my driver’s licence just like my older buddies. When in high-school I couldn’t wait to graduate and finally have no more school. When I finally graduated I couldn’t wait to work and experience what everyone called ‘really living’.
And now that I’ve been ‘really living’ for two years, I’m still asking the same question I pondered as a child.
“When will my life begin?”
I’m about to enter into my 3rd year of full time work in the same place I grew up in. And the most common question I receive when catching up with friends is ‘Are you still working at that horse place?’ When I say yes, the question that often follows is ‘Are you going to study or do something different with your life?’.
The answer is, I have no idea. But when I drive home after being asked this question, hands gripping the steering wheel in a flurry of frustration (that usually means hot tears rolling down my cheeks…) I know all too well…Heart, we have incurred a problem. And that problem is contentment.
Contentment; defined as the ‘State of happiness or satisfaction’, being content implies the condition of being pleased and/or fulfilled despite possible external factors. I like to think the apostle Paul summed it up best, ‘… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’ (Philippians Chapter 4, Verse 11-13).
If you haven’t met me, what you need to know about me is that I’m a passionate person. I love having exciting things in my life to look forward to. I say yes way more than I say no (which does not work people). For me, life is an adventure.
However, I tend to go through very dramatic climaxes of being content with how life is rolling. I’m having a good time, joyful, loving people and the outdoors, working with kids and horses… next minute, I’m seriously considering purchasing a one way ticket to Italy, buying a sunflower field, living in stone cottage with a cellar door full of the best red wine, and never coming home.
Okay, maybe not as dramatic, but it does happen. Contentment is the thorn in my flesh that forces me to keep coming home to the Father, crawling up onto his big ol’ lap and making my requests known, all the whilst being completely satisfied in the fact that I’m doing just that...sitting on his lap and talking to him.
I’ve started to realise of late, that being content has a deeper meaning than wondering when life is going to begin. Contentment won’t begin when I change job. When I study, when I’m married or if I buy a little cottage in the rolling scopes of Tuscany.
Contentment begins the moment I put gratefulness over the desire of self. God asks me to come to him first in my wants & desires, but from a place of thankfulness. If we read ahead from the first few verses in Philippians 4, we see this idea come to light… ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians Chapter 4, Verse 5-6).
So, feeling discontent isn’t the issue, what I do with the discontent IS. When I feel sad because I’m not sure I’m where I really want to be, I can choose to believe Satan’s lies or not. In times of discontent Satan tells me I’d be happier if I was doing something different with my life, that travelling would be more exciting, that life will be fulfilling when I’m married with seven adopted kids.
He likes to distract me from the present to make me think there is greater joy in something that is currently unattainable, what a lonely life he wants for me!
So where do I take my heart in times of discontent? Straight to the Father. I plonk down on his lap. I have a cry if I need. Then I sit and let my gratefulness be known. From a place of thankfulness I ask him to fill my cup with the things that may be absent. Perhaps I haven’t spent enough time resting with good friends and good laughter, maybe I’ve been idolising his promises over his presence, maybe fear has crept in stolen love in a specific area of my heart.
But through it all, what I will always know to be true, is that my contentment comes from the fact I have intimacy with the creator of the universe. That intimacy is eternal. It will never pass away.
Shannon Munyard is home to the Adelaide Hills where she works as a horse riding instructor and equine assisted learning facilitator at a non-for profit youth campsite. Shannon is passionate about authenticity, and seeing people connected to their hearts. She loves the outdoors, bush camping, pondering deep questions and Jesus.