"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13b,14

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wifely Contentment

"Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won't have to hunt for happiness."
~William Gladstone
"He is richest who it content with the least"
~Spurgeon (LOVE Spurgeon)
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness."
Timothy 6:6-11

I have this idea that I'm going to eventually do several posts to make a collection, of sorts, on being a wife. The first post in the series is this one: Wifely Duties. But before I continue, I have to get something off my chest.

.....I don't do all of the wife stuff perfectly.  Not even close.  Most of the things I have shared, or will share, I have come to know because I have done about 10 wrong things before finally learning what works.

I think sometimes it's tempting to hide our flaws and weaknesses. I know that's a temptation for me. I think, though, that as women, we strive to reach this goal of being perfect...... but no one is perfect. We do each other a disservice when we aren't honest about our struggles and failures.

So all of that to say, for each success I've had in my marriage, as a wife, there have been plenty of mistakes, lots of selfish moments, an abundance of sin, and tons of prayer and help from the Lord. And a many, many days where I just have to take a deep breath, do the next right thing, and TRY AGAIN.

For me, in life, there are two things that make me crazy. Fear, and discontentment. I have talked about my battle with fear in this post. These two things can take away my peace, make me unable to be the person I am supposed to be, and cause me to be pretty stinking miserable.

Contentment is a tricky thing. We live in a culture that is constantly telling us, both in overt and subtle ways, that what we have isn't really good enough. We need the next thing. We need more. We need what everyone else has. We need to be thinner, smarter, have bigger houses, nicer cars, and whiter teeth. Our kids should speak at least 7 languages, take the PSAT, SAT, STAR 9, and get a 4.5 GPA. We should take a fancy vacation every year. Etc....etc...etc.....

One way I personally struggle with being discontent is with my husband's job. He has a position that is on-call and he can be called in at any given time. He will often be held over on a shift, or have to go in early, so it's hard to predict what each week is going to look like. His sleep schedule will get off, he'll miss planned events, he can't always make plans ahead of time.  As a routine-loving, plan-ahead, Type-A girl, this often makes me feel frustrated and resentful.

Another area that causes me to be discontent is having to constantly mind my budget and be frugal. That just doesn't come naturally for me. I like to go to Target and blow 40 bucks on nothing. I love doing races and taking trips that cost money. I enjoy going out to eat. And I can certainly do all of those things, but in strict moderation. Sometimes that makes me feel deprived when I'm not focused on being content.

Being discontent affects my ability to be a good wife, because Wade thrives when he is able to provide the kind of life that makes me feel loved, cared for, and fulfilled. When I am not content with what I have, he will usually knock himself out trying to fill that lack. Unfortunately, what I've learned, is that discontent isn't solved by the acquisition of any stuff or any situation. I can get what I thought I wanted, longed for, and quite quickly become even MORE discontent. So he is frustrated, I am upset, and no one wins.

Here are some tools I've learned in my endeavor to live life as a contented wife and woman:

Be thankful on purpose:
There is always something to be thankful for. Seriously. I know that seems like a limited proposition. But it isn't. Sometimes you have to look for the thing to be thankful for. Sometimes you have to look HARD. But it's there. Look for it. Make that your focus- finding the glimmer of good in a big, stinking pile of bad. I know when something bad or unexpected happens to me, my first instinct is to react with "why me??" and "I don't deserve this!!". Being thankful, especially in hard times, is a choice. It means taking a deep breath and searching your brain for something good to grab on to. Thankfulness isn't going to happen on accident. You need to pursue it. On purpose.

Want what you have:
When Christopher was little, we lived in an apartment. It seemed like most of our friends lived in houses. That was hard!! I would imagine how much easier and more pleasant our life would be if we, too, had a house.

Then Christopher started having seizures. The first night, when we were in the hospital, the doctor thought he had a brain tumor, due to the location and nature of the seizures. I remember Wade and I hanging on to each other and saying that we would gladly get rid of every single material possession we had and live in a rented room in someone's house if that would make our kid healthy. Nothing we had meant anything to us. To me, one of the most beautiful things that came out of Christopher having health issues was the clarity about what was really, truly important. When it came down to it, what I really wanted was to have my family intact, healthy, and thriving.

I still think about that. When I get to feeling like I want something I don't have, I think about what I do have.

If I feel disgruntled because we can't go out to eat, I try and make something from scratch that I know everyone will enjoy. If I feel bummed out that I can't buy someone a gift, I try and make something thoughtful or do something to make them feel special. If we (our family) want to do something fun or different, I try and find inexpensive ways to take a trip or do something with friends. If we want to have a party, I focus on making something yummy from what I have, and making people feel loved and welcome, and I don't worry that I don't serve gourmet stuff.

Wanting what you have is a good thing, because...well..... then you always have what you want.

Making the best of things you DON'T like:
There are things in my life, and I am sure in your life, that I don't like. Things I have no control over. Things I can't change.

By the way, I don't like those things. Just so you know.

I have found that when I try and control or change those things, I am just miserable. Especially when it's something that WADE is in control of, and I don't like how it's going. Those are the hardest things.

But we're talking about wifely contentment here. One of the hardest things, for me, is to be content living with a situation that I think should be handled differently.You know, the things that affect you, but you can't control. As a wife, there are plenty of things like that for me. (You can insert whatever that is for you- family situations, work schedule, household repairs, hobbies, finances.....)

There are times when just accepting what is and finding my niche in that circumstance is what's needed. As difficult as that can be, there is relief that comes when you stop wrestling for control of something that isn't really yours to take charge of. Focusing on what you do have control over is better.

The one thing you HAVE control over:
The only thing, I've learned, that we have control over in life- is our attitude. That's pretty much it. So make that most of that. Try as hard as you can to have the best attitude possible. Make that the thing you're investing your effort in. Make your attitude the primary concern in your thought life. It's way too easy to fix your thoughts on the unfairness of things, or how so-and-so doesn't have to deal with this.... those things just make you crazy. Spend time thinking about how you will respond (and I mean tangible responses here- actions, what words you will say, etc.) when you are in a situation you don't like. It helps to have your attitude and response figured out ahead of time. Because what comes out "on the fly" usually isn't that great. It's usually an "it's all about me" response. Yuck.

I would be remiss in failing to mention the role that faith in God plays in my contentment. I know that one day, wrongs will be made right. I know that the roles and responsibilities I am given here have eternal weight. I am certain that choosing to be content with what I am given makes sense, because God is the one who oversees the giving and taking away of things. The security I have from that knowledge makes contentment more desirable than it already is- because it's another way to glorify God.

I would encourage you to seek, and to find contentment. It's worth its weight in gold. It makes you an asset to your husband. It sets a good tone in your home. Your example teaches your kids to be content. And you will stop seeking "the next bigger, better thing", and start enjoying what you already have.


  1. Love your thoughts and wisdom Shari!

  2. Thank you! I was was just telling a friend that posts like these make me feel vulnerable ..... I like recipe posts better! :-)

  3. I agree with so much of what you have said, here!
    I would only add that contentment and attitude adjustment for me comes from taking the time to walk with God. By that, I mean sharing all my thoughts and feelings and irritations, and trials, and fears, and whatever is going on with me - with Him. Realizing that He truly hears my cry, even when my circumstances don't change, and that He is crazy about me, is huge.

  4. Soooooo true Susan!! Plus. I love that I can pour everything out to God without feeling like I will regret sharing later. I know that being right before Him is better than being "right"..... You have such a great heart. :)

  5. We certainly do have a lot of control over our own contentment. Thanks for the encouragement.