Recently, I had a profound conversation with my 11-year-old granddaughter. As we sat eating lunch together, I asked her, “Selah, what is God teaching you these days?” She paused and reflected and then she said, “contentment.” I was blown away by her answer. Rarely does a girl in sixth grade say that God is teaching them contentment. Yet, my 11-year-old granddaughter was learning the secrets of a contented life.
Even though they walk through difficult and disappointing seasons, people who cultivate contentment possess resiliency. Their faith grows even when in the fire. They seem to have an undercurrent of peace running through their souls and a deep well of joy. What’s their secret? I believe contentment begins with a few good choices.
Life is challenging and chaotic. Just this past week war broke out in the Middle East. How in the world do we cultivate a contented spirit? The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). The incredible thing about those words is that Paul wrote about contentment in prison. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to feel content in a jail cell. But Paul had learned to make intentional choices that led to calmness even in chaos.
Here Are 5 Choices You Can Make to Cultivate Contentment
Choose to praise and thank God. Life is often disappointing. Instead of complaining, try praising God for who He is. Think of the character traits of God and spend some time praising Him for His Almighty character. Or, make a “thankful list” and write down the good gifts that God has given you. David wrote, “I will praise you as long as I live” (Psalm 63:4).
Sing! Yup, you read that correctly. Bust out some tunes in your car or bellow out a song in the shower. Don’t worry if you can’t carry a tune – God hears in perfect pitch. It’s all good! He loves your singing voice. It’s amazing how singing will lift your spirits and cultivate a deep satisfaction in your soul. David wrote, “I sing in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 63:7).
Gather with friends. When life feels hard, it’s easy to become isolated. Instead, next time you feel discontent with your life, why not call a friend, go for coffee, and intentionally ask your friend questions about their life? If they share a problem, don’t try to “relate” or dive in with your problem. Instead, make your focus listening to understand. Here’s the exciting thing: when you offer empathy, you benefit as well. Why? Because God hard-wired your brain with mirror neurons. Those neurons are wired to respond to the emotions of others so that we can mirror their feelings. When you gather and connect with friends, your own mood will be boosted.
Memorize a verse or two. When life feels difficult, you can refocus your thoughts on God by rehearsing His Word. David writes in Psalm 63:6, “I think of you through the watches of the night.” If you have a few good verses memorized, you don’t have to turn on the light in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. Instead, rehearse the verses in your mind and re-focus your brain on the goodness of God’s Word.
At the end of every day, remember the good. During a particularly rough season in my life, right before bed, I reflected back on the day and wrote down three good things that happened that day. By remembering the good ways God had blessed me, I was able to sink into a restful sleep rather than obsessing over what went wrong that day. In Psalm 77:11, Asaph wrote, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember the miracles.”
Cultivating contentment is a spiritual discipline. However, each tiny choice leads you one step closer to the contented life God calls you to live.
If you haven’t yet, order Rooted Joy and set a time to gather with a few friends to look at the topic of joy.
This week on The Connected Mom Podcast we’re talking with novelist Nicole Deese. Fall is a great time to indulge in a great novel. Join us for this conversation with Nicole and learn about the importance of friendship from her novel, The Words We Lost.