I recently heard someone say that you're life changes the most between the ages of 15 and 25. As a girl at the upper end of that age range, I definitely agree with that statement.
I remember when I was a freshman in high school and couldn't wait until my sixteenth birthday. I watched My Super Sweet 16 on repeat for about two years leading up to the day where I would finally get my drivers license and have the freedom I'd always wanted. But soon after my sixteenth birthday, my sights were set on graduation and starting college. Then after a few months of being in college and enjoying that new found freedom, I couldn't wait to graduate and start my career as a teacher. Soon after, all I could think about was finally moving out on my own into a little apartment that I could decorate and make my own. Does this sound familiar in your own life?
After years of waiting and transitioning in and out of different schools, seasons, and friend groups, I'd finally "arrived" at the destination I'd been working towards for. I've been a teacher for almost two years now and am loving living on my own for the first time. But you know what? Now that I'm living on my own and in the season that I've been waiting to get to for so long, I often get anxious wondering how long this season will last. I think more often than not, when we get whatever we've been waiting for, it isn't as shiny and exciting as we thought it was going to be. Have you ever felt that way? Each season has wonderful blessings, but it has challenges that come with it as well. As a single girl in my mid twenties, I often wonder when or if I will get married. Will this single season last a few more months, or 20 more years?
It doesn't matter what season of life you're in. The cycle of waiting for the next season and the discontentment that comes with that is never ending. In fact, it is magnified when you compare your season to someone else's season and theirs seems to look "better" than yours. Which can I just say, I am SO guilty of. Discontentment will always creep in when we focus more on what we think we want rather than the hidden blessings that each season brings.
In Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, (which I totally recommend, btw!!) she talks about the different seasons of life where she experienced immense hardship and wondered how to even find joy in the midst of such trails and darkness. However, it was when she began documenting and thanking God for the simple, everyday blessings that she began to find joy in her present circumstances.
They key to living abundantly isn't having an abundance of the things we think we want. It's not about having our own Eat Pray Love adventure (although how fun would that be!!), getting married, or checking off items from our bucket list. It's being thankful for the everyday blessings from God.
The Key Is Gratitude.
Thank you Lord for a slow Saturday morning to sleep in, journal, and listen to worship music. (Ellie Holcomb's always on repeat!)
Thank you Lord for weekend brunch dates with sweet friends.
Thank you Lord for the beautiful sunrise I get to see each morning as I drive to work.
Thank you Lord for the opportunity to serve and be a part of a church that feels like family.
Thank you Lord for my sweet students and the opportunity to teach and do daily life with them.
Thank you Lord for candles, cozy blankets, and the sight of snow gently falling outside my window.
Thank you Lord for the people you've brought into my life that invest in and encourage me in my walk with you.
Thank you Lord for the work that you're doing in my life.
It is in the simple, everyday moments where God shows His great love for us. When you start to documents them like Ann did, you can truly see just how much God cares for you and takes delight in you. It is when we choose to focus on those moments, we find true contentment and peace.
Paul is the perfect example of having true contentment despite his circumstances. From a prison cell, Paul writes in Philippians 4:11:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
Can I just repeat the fact that Paul wrote this FROM A PRISON CELL?! Paul knew that our joy comes from the Lord, not our present circumstances; and that our present circumstances are not our permanent circumstances. Yes, our temporary seasons here on this Earth will change, but Paul had an eternal mindset in the midst of his trials.
This world is not our home, and God has us right planted in the season that we are in for a purpose, even though we may never know why that is on this side of heaven. We have been strategically placed at this point on the timeline and in our current location for a reason. It wasn't by chance. So even though our lives may not look exactly like we would like them too at the moment, it is for God's glory and our good that we are where we are. They key is trusting and believing that God's plans are better than the plans that we could dream up for ourselves. He has the roadmap, not us.
And let's be real. Often, that's easier said than done, especially in this social media crazed world that we live in. It's easy to feel discontent when one of your last single friends posts a photo on Facebook with her new boyfriend. Or when someone else's life is perfectly portrayed on Instagram, when you're life feels like a mess. However, it is when we CHOOSE to trust God and CHOOSE to believe that God has our best interest in mind that we can be fully at peace and content in the current season, whatever that season may be.
If contentment is something that you struggle with, I pray that you would consider grabbing a cute notebook and a pen and starting your own list of #onethousandgifts from God! I know that it will bless you and change your mindset to see the blessing that God bestows on us each and everyday!