Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Learning Contentment Through the Non-Convenient.

I looked around the hospital room in shock. This is one of the nicer, private hospitals in Paris, yet the decor consists of 3 oddly placed posters taped to the wall. The walls are the color of...hmmm...we'll call it taupe, very faded taupe; and there is no remote for the television. However, the room is clean, I have a nice bed to sleep in, and there is a bathroom in the room. After a couple hours of annoyance, I remembered that I was making the same mistake all over again. What was that mistake? Viewing my circumstances through American eyes.

Our family will have lived in Paris, France for 2 years in May. You would think that life in Paris would seem normal most of the time by now. But I have to admit that there are many, many times when I still have to fight my American desires for convenience and and modern hospital rooms!

There are many other women whom I have met living in foreign countries that seem very content with where they live and often say that America seems foreign to them. Maybe it is that I haven't lived here long enough or that I am easily a discontent person (something about which I currently see God working on in my life). But I do know that my desires for the American conveniences are often on my mind. Sometimes I think about how great mini-vans with big comphy carseats are. Other times, I think about backyards, huge shopping shopping carts, giant craft stores, and many times I think about how nice it would be to see family more than just on Skype.

As of late, I have reazlied that this is a very suttle thing that can turn into a very big thing; and Satan is ready to run with it. The Christian life is a battle, and my battle right now is contentement. It's easy to dismiss the seemingly little feelings and desires as natural human reactions to the things of life. But those so called "natural" feelings are just the things that cause us to fall.

The first step is seeing the temptation, but it must quickly be followed by prayer and consistent time in God's word. For me, I have found that my prayers during times like this can be shallow and full of distrust of God's plan for me. However, we have an amazing Father that listens to us better than anyone could be capable of, and do you know what? He already knows everything that is going on in our hearts, so why shouldn't we talk to Him about it? It's amazing the peace that he gives after truly pouring out our hearts to Him. And even though it looks like a mountain of discouragement in front of us, we also know that we have a God who can move moutains.

I may not ever fully adjust to living in France, but I do know I can rely on God's all-knowing, good, and loving character. He will not give me anything that I cannot handle. So I will love the times of traveling in a train and not having to worry about car upkeep or city traffic, keeping fit simply by climbing thousands of metro steps, and being within 5 minutes walking distance from 4 of our most used stores.

From my very limited experience, I have found that many women struggle with contentement. We either long to have the adventure overseas, or the suburbean life in the States, or a better house, or a newer wardrobe, or a budget that makes life easier. We become jealous of our friends and question our value as a child of God.

My personal challenge this month is to choose to learn contentment. Think about what Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13. He learned to be content. Contentment isn't just a feeling that God hands to us, it is a process; and the only way we truly learn to be content is through the times of humble means and times of prosperity; times of being hungry and times of being full, times of having abundance and times of being needy. It is through these things that God teaches us contentment. It is an amazing lesson that God desires to teach us. However, as with all life lessons, we must not only listen to the lesson but act on it. We must choose to be flexible clay in the Potter's hand and step, wth full faith, onto His potter's wheel.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Sarah! Yes, I too look around and long for the mini van, the backyard, etc. etc. I appreciate what you shared here - it's a great challenge for me!!