I think something we can all agree that we struggle with is contentment. It whatever circumstance you find yourself, there is always something you dislike about it, or perhaps just something you'd like changed in a certain way. The complaints can be petty and small at first, and we justify them. (I do think that it is important to have friendships with whom we can grow from and with, and part of that is sharing, warning, and teaching each other better ways to handle disappointments.) However, complaining should never been the foundation for any day, relationship, or circumstance in which we live. I'm saying this while shaking my finger at myself. Some days are harder to practice contentment than others.
For a while, I made myself busy with many things that distracted me from some of my personal "dead grasses" (you know, because someone else's grass is always greener). I was able to move past it, step forward... until I started tripping over rocks in my path and realized I was still walking on dead grass. A dear friend invited me over during a lunch break just about the time I started falling down over a great big boulder. I am sorry to say that because she's such a great listener, it was easy to take advantage of this gift of hers. She promised prayers but also did something else. She lent me a book called Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow. I have yet to finish it, but was surprised that the author had lived a very stressful life of moving, hiding from persecution in dangerous countries, and fear from many outside sources. I thought, how can someone who has lived under such scary conditions, over and over, be writing about calmness?
Ms. Dillow finally shared one of her secrets of contentment: submission. Ah, the S- word. None of us (especially us women) like to hear that word; it has such twisted interpretation today. It rings of dull, puppet-like obedience without question or joy, and the degradation of our dignity under the heal of men. This is a false interpretation- submission is not the absence of joy, nor bowing to abusive treatment. A subject submits to his king, not because he is beaten and made to, but because he trusts his king. I think of it as a relationship between two people, where one is the leader and the other is the follower, in step with one another, not against one another. (Like a Godly marriage.) We do not always like what our Good King asks us to walk through, but we trust that he can see further ahead than we can, and He knows there's something better for us if we follow.
What does this mean for me? It means that contentment is not a state of constant being, it is a forward action. It is the act of submission, specifically to God's will and plan. I had never thought of submission as an action before, but now I understood it always was. It is not sitting meekly by, saying nothing, it is a choice and an animation of that choice. So when I am complaining, I am not actively submitting and I am also not trusting. If I were in complete control of my whole world, what a mess I would make it! I'd also never grow or be strengthened. Gold cannot be used unless it is purified, and purifying it means burning it with hot fire. If I submit to God, He will be with me in that fire and though it hurts I will not be broken. Even though I cannot know when it will end, I do know that it will end, and I will be stronger and shinier for it.