August 14, 2018
In Want or in Plenty: Real Ways to Create Contentment in Your Life Despite Your Circumstances
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:12-13, NIV).
Friend to Friend
On that sunny August day, I thought my life couldn’t get much worse.
Recently separated from my husband and with no support from him, I was teetering on the financial edge. My kids and I had just moved in with my parents, and I was desperately looking for a job to support my two middle schoolers.
I thought about our old life where the only thing I needed to get them ready for a new school year was a debit card and a couple trips to the mall. With school only a few weeks away, I didn’t know where I’d get the money to buy clothes and shoes or pay for annual physicals.
That was fifteen years ago.
Today, I do have enough, but the dread of not having what I need can still make me sick to my stomach.
We live in a tiny house, but one that is situated in the most expensive county in the US, with plenty of food, enough money to buy clothes we need and go out to dinner occasionally. Even take an occasional vacation.
This is the land of plenty. No doubt about it.
But what I’ve discovered? There are benefits and drawbacks to both.
When I was in want, we pulled together what we needed with the help of my parents, hand-me-downs from friends, Goodwill, and a small amount of surprise money that showed up in our mailbox. We didn’t have extra, but we had exactly what we needed.
Living in want is a scary place to be, whatever your want may be. But the other thing I discovered about living in want? It gives you plenty of room to see and experience God’s provision first hand, evidence of God’s care and provision for me and my kids.
Now, living in plenty? Whew! Finally, you can be relieved of the day-to-day worry about how you’re going to pay the rent, or the next car payment. But there is a drawback to living in plenty: You can forget to notice all the miracles around you.
We falsely believe we are making things happen—and that can even turn into thinking if only people were as ______________ (conscientious, hard-working, smart, etc.) as us, they would not be in want.
And suddenly we forget about the love, graciousness and strength only God can provide in both of these times.
So how do we stay content in a world that actively works to keep us discontent?
Limit your time around agents of discontent.
Where does your discontentment grow? For me, it’s looking at Pinterest or home decorating sites. I see all-white country chic homes and am transported into another world—until I have to come back to earth and see my stained carpets, saggy couches and 1970’s bathroom. Not only can I become dissatisfied, I can project that dissatisfaction onto my husband, who works hard to provide for me.
I’ve learned to limit myself when it comes to my house. Currently, we are replacing our carpets with flooring. Instead of spending months perusing different websites, I’m heading to Home Depot. No muss. No fuss.
Get radically, ridiculously grateful.
This is an exercise I do when I need to recalibrate my gratefulness. Notice how many things you have directly around you.
As I write this, within a foot of me are:
A notebook and pen
A coffee cup with hot coffee in it
A banana peel from the banana I just ate
A tray a good friend gave me
A couch I’m sitting on
A quilt my mom made me
My dog cuddling with me
Just noticing the blessings in my immediate surroundings changes my perspective.
Here is what I know from reading God’s word: We need to set our hearts on God and not our circumstances. We must learn to live both in want and in plenty.
God will meet us, no matter our situation. Our ability to be content is not determined by our circumstances, but our connection to Him.
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me Your strength, no matter what circumstances I’m in. Continue to grow my heart in contentment no matter if I’m in want or plenty, because You always care for me.
In Your loving Son, Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What is one action step you can take today to grow your contentment, regardless of your present circumstances?
More from the Girlfriends
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