Please Make Up Your Mind

Contentment can be an elusive trait for me sometimes.  I am often convicted by Jesus' words in Matthew..."We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn." (Matt. 11:17)  The Jews were not happy with the "style" of John the Baptist and then they were displeased with the way that Jesus handled things. They just couldn't get happy! I have felt critical of "those people" at times, but truth be told, I totally relate to the struggle.

When we moved to Nairobi and were so sure Tom would get a job quickly, my initial response to the length of time stretching out several months and then over a year was not one of patience and peace, but of fear, worry and complaining.  I didn't understand why God would make us suffer when we were trying to do good and help people in Kenya.  It didn't make sense to me that every new venture we tried kept hitting road blocks.  I know I worked hard to sound positive and faithful in my letters home to our parents.  And I believe I tried to live faithfully on a daily basis through all the ups and downs we experienced the first year.  I have to admit, however, that I received more than one encouragement to repent of my complaining spirit.

The blessing of the time without an income is that we learned much about the providence and protection of God.  We learned that while it was difficult, God continually provided for our needs in amazing ways. We also learned to trust God's timing, that He would give us what we needed at just the moment we thought we couldn't go on any longer.  I also learned that living with a contented wife was much nicer for my husband and that God blessed us each and every time I overcame my fears.  So you can imagine how thankful and content I was when Tom finally got a job, just days before Nicholas was born, right?  Lesson finally learned so that I could tell our son of the amazing ways God blessed us and that we learned to never again doubt His plan...Right?

In my memory that's the way it was.  I was relieved and so grateful that Tom was finally able to get his license to practice pharmacy and then start working.  At times that was probably true.  I found a letter, though, that shows the true state of my heart shortly after Nick was born...

"Tom and I left the baby with a sitter for an hour today to go to a nearby hotel for a cup of tea.  He was sleeping.  It was nice to get out for a little while together.  I feel great about our relationship.  I've heard that babies can cause a rift at first.  But I feel like I need my husband more and more - not less.  It's been hard adjusting to his new work schedule, especially since he works 52-56 hours a week.  We're thankful for the steady income, but it is a challenge."

Ok.  There are some good, redeeming thoughts in there.  I was grateful for and loved my husband.  We were close and enjoyed spending time together (still do!). I was thankful, BUT... It's that "but" that causes all the problems in my life!  How could I have been anything but grateful? After experiencing a long time of being able to spend only $.50 a day each, shouldn't I have reveled in the fact that we could finally pay our bills - and go out for a cup of tea!?

My heart was so fickle.  Unhappy at times because we didn't have an income and then unhappy because we did!  Oh, this heart of mine!  Over and over again I am most grateful for the love, patience and forgiveness of our God and my friends and family.   I can't say I have yet learned to live in complete contentment the way that Paul describes in Philippians 4, but I do know that I have grown and continue to change whenever I see discontentment creep in. 

I'm glad I found that letter.  I'm glad for the reminder to get content and stay content.  It's a good thing my mom kept those letters!  It keeps me honest with you!
Lori ZieglerComment