Make a list of all the things you’d like to accomplish in your life. Call it a bucket list, to-do list, whatever you’d like to label it. These things are important to you! If I made a list it would include thing like ‘finish a psychology degree’, ‘be a wife & mother’, ‘weigh 175 lbs for a year’, and ‘run a half marathon’. In my future, the one I would like to have, those things look great and will seemingly provide me with a happy life.
What if I looked you straight in the eye and told you the things on your list will never ever happen. You will never become a mother. You will always struggle with yo-yo weight. You will never be a full-time minister. You will never do these things. You’d be sad, angry, and upset. Rightfully so! I don’t wish that fate on anyone, and I would loose my cool completely if anyone told me I would never do the things I so desperately want to do in life.
So often I make plans for myself without thinking about God’s plan for me. We all know sometimes God’s plan looks very different from our own. But recently during a Sunday morning message, I was forced to think about what brings me happiness in my plans, and what if I never get those things?
Make a list of things you would change in your life that would make you happy. The lists usually go something like this:
I will be happy when I make $50k a year.
I will be happy when I get married.
I will be happy when I buy a new house and/or car.
I will be happy when my ministry reaches 10k followers.
I will be happy when I reach my goal weight.
I will be happy when I lose the baby weight.
I will be happy when I have a baby.
I will be happy when my mother-in-laws moves out.
I will be happy when I get a better job.
Add on some of your own. Now here’s where it gets difficult – what if that never happens? If those things never come to fruition in your life, will you still be happy? Could you? Can I? That is such a hard thing to consider.
I’ve been struggling with my weight again, and it has gotten me incredibly discouraged about my whole life. I’ve probably only gained back about 20 lbs, but I am uncomfortable in my own skin again. Anything relating to my worthiness is my struggle in life; Satan uses anything and everything to try and suck me back into the darkness. I literally had to sit in church and think “I will be happy when I reach my goal weight.” OUCH. Jeesh Heidi, way to be thankful for everything else God has blessed you with. *insert huge eye roll* Seriously though, that’s my reality. I think I’ll be happy when I weigh a certain amount. For others, it is when they find a spouse, or when they buy new things, or when they have more kids.
Here is the catch. Ready? God is our joy. We live in a world of WANT. We can never satiate ourselves with the things this world has to offer. Now I’m not saying we cannot have good things, or that we cannot strive to live healthier lifestyles, however we must do it because we want to live in glory of God, not because we want to look like some actress and have a house looking like Better Homes & Gardens.
Philipians 4:11-12 talks about contentment in any situation.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
The next verse is usually given as one of those ‘Christianese’ verses when people lose someone or are going through a hard time.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
But truly, Paul was telling the church how he has found contentment through every situation because of Christ. When things were great, Paul was content in Jesus. When things were not going so hot, Paul was still content in Jesus. That’s the secret of truly happy people – we’re not happy at all. We recognize the joy of Jesus. We know that what we have in God is better than anything we could want in this life. If our happiness is fueled by things of this world, by things we consume, then it will always fall just a little short. If our bank accounts never reach those six digits, if the scale never shows under 200, if the pregnancy test is always negative, there is still hope in our God-given identities.
If you’re struggling with contentment, with living in a prison of ‘want’ where everyone else’s grass is always greener, please know there is a better way to live life. There is more to life than keeping up with the Joneses, more to life than numbers and calculations and measurements against arbitrary social norms. There is joy to be found in Jesus, and I would love to help you find it.