Avoid the Thorny Path of Discontentment
- Wednesday, November 10, 2004
As a homeschooled student, I have had the chance to be home all day with my family. With that advantage, I have also had the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons that might have taken longer to learn if I had been in public school, separated from those I love. Though some of these lessons were enjoyable to discover, God has also taught me lessons that were not so enjoyable, but rather hard and painful—such as learning to be content in each situation in which He places me.
Too many times I have taken the thorny, harsh path of discontentment. Some days life seems to be crazy. There are things that I want to do that I can't do because there isn't enough time or there is too much happening. On these occasions, it is so easy to fall into discontentment, to resent that things aren't going "my way," and to become bitter. Even though we participate in activities together as a family, it seems that we never have enough leisure time. There are nine children in my family, with three five years old or younger. We also run an online bookstore and publish a magazine, so we always have something going on.
"My sister used all of my stickers that I was going to send to my pen-pal," I brood. "The laundry for eleven family members is behind because I haven't worked on it for almost a week; my list of school work seems to be piling up; and one of my younger sisters who is being potty trained plugged up the toilet today and then just kept on flushing until it overflowed and flooded the bathroom! Then I had to clean up the mess and no one helped me! I mean, that never happens in our neighbor's house. Their children are so good—they never get into things that don't belong to them! Why couldn't our family be like that?"
Instead of thanking God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me and instead of trusting Him, I wonder why He allowed my day to be so crazy.
There are times when I find myself wishing for a life God has not chosen for me. Sometimes at night, when the house is quiet, I snuggle beneath my warm, thick comforter and begin to reflect upon my life.
Glumly, I remembered visiting some friends in their home. They have three children who have graduated from high school and no longer have babies to watch and messes to clean. Envy had filled my heart as I looked around their house and noticed that their living room was spotless. There were no puzzle pieces under the coffee table waiting to be put back where they belong. They didn't have mud stains on the carpet by the door from little feet or coffee stains by the counter from chubby fingers reaching for a good sip of sweetened coffee and cream—and no dirty diapers to change! Their time seemed to be their own. I imagined relaxing on the couch with a good book and no noisy toddlers running about. I envisioned eating a piece of cake without a four-year-old climbing in my lap asking for a bite. Peace! Why couldn't our family be that way?
Discontentment began to creep in and take dominion over my life. Every day I would find some other fault with our family, some other reason to be jealous. My every thought seemed to begin with, "If only. . . ."
The babies began to become burdensome to me; they were no longer a joy to be around. To me, it seemed that each day brought more messes and even more laundry to fold and put away. I thought it was the babies who were being grumpy when, in reality, it was I.
Then this verse in Scripture hit me in the head: "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them" (Psalm 127:3-5a, NKJV). I began to think about what our family would be like without the five youngest children in our family. Sure, the house would be cleaner, but would that really matter to me if I had to sacrifice my sweet little brother and sisters for a perfectly clean house?
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