In keeping up with the spirit of Thanksgiving and the upcoming new year, we're all encouraged and pressured into telling our social media followers all that we have to be thankful for this year. Don't get me wrong, I think that's great. In today's media-induced negativity and political uproar, we need to stand together and remember we have much to give thanks for. We need positivity and we need a bloated turkey belly to remind us that life isn't quite as bad as we all seem to croak about.
It's easy to be thankful, really. We can likely say "Well, I have my health. I have my family. I have friends. I have faith and I am loved by someone." It's easy to be thankful for what is in front of us, and easy to complain about what we wish we had. I'm guilty, too. I'm always wishing for less school work, better blood sugars, and more clarity in what direction my life is taking. You know what's really hard, though? Contentment. A friend and I recently talked and as I was explaining how I wish I knew what to do or where I'd be a year from now, and my friend talked about contentment. It was a brief conversation, but those words echoed in my head. I think I allow myself to be temporarily content so long as I have some idea of what's going to happen next, but that's not really contentment at all, is it? I keep a list on my phone of things I'm thankful for, and when I'm feeling stressed I think of more things to be thankful for and read it over and over again. I've had this list for over a year, but just the other day I started a new list. My contentment list; it's list of things I'm choosing to be content with through prayer (because contentment doesn't come easy):
I get wound up in wondering where God is going to plant my feet and root me, and who I'll meet and make friends with. Who I might marry, if it be His will for me to marry. I struggle to recognize my relationship with Him is the one that I should desire most. He created my desire for relationships, but I too often turn it into an idol that I mentally chase around in my head. Today, I'm going to choose to be content with the relationships I have now and ultimately rejoice over the relationship I share with Him.
I would find it hard to believe that I am the only student who struggles to be content with school. Students are always scurrying around to finish projects, attend social events, and to find free food. When we are asked how school is, we give an exasperated smile and reply, "Busy!" Too true. But even in that one word, we're exclaiming our discontentment. Right now, I want to know what grad school will hold for me and if I'll be happy. Where's a time machine when I need one? But today, I can choose to be content that this semester is almost over (humorous but said with all thanksgiving in my heart), and choose to be content with taking one day, one class at a time.
3. Body Image
Can I get an amen? How many of us are really content with our bodily physique? Don't we all wish we had her hair, her face structure, her thighs, her athletic figure? We piece together parts of other girls and say to ourselves, "If I looked like that, I wouldn't ask for anything else." How can I be content with my body image and not dread seeing the mirror? By knowing that I am created in Christ's image in the beginning (Genesis 1:27) and as a born-again child of the King (Ephesians 4:24). If I'm not satisfied with being made in His likeness, I will never be content with my physical appearance. So, if I have to slap it on a sticky note to be content with my image to bring Christ glory, then I will.
4. Living With A Chronic Illness
What's up, National Diabetes Awareness Month? I've been rocking with my disease for 10 (almost 11) years now, and most of the time you wouldn't know I have Type One (except for the fluffy yellow dog that shadows me everywhere I go). Most of the time, I accept it. But sometimes I fight it. I throw my hands up after trying so hard to keep my numbers in check, and I fail. How can I be content with failure after trying so hard? I can be content in knowing that one day my heavenly body will be rid of this thorn. I can be content in knowing that Christ has given me a disease in which not everyone else has. I can be content in knowing that in more ways than I can count, it has been a testimony to His faithfulness and living daily with a rude pancreas has taught me how to trust Him daily. I am content because I know this is not forever, but while I am here I will glorify Him in this body.
*Not my dog's body, don't worry.*
I know I've got more to go, and I will be given lots of circumstances that I will have to learn to be content with. Paul learned to be content in any and every situation (Philippians 4:12), and he told us in 1 Timothy 6:6 that "godliness with contentment is great gain." Students, professors, mamas, daddies, brothers and sisters, our contentment is not without gain. Our prize is a closer relationship with Jesus and being satisfied by and in Him, and there is no greater reward. Tell me what you're thankful for, and tell me what you're going to choose to be content with throughout this holiday season. Write it down so you don't forget. Give thanks. Eat turkey. Nap. Seek contentment.