There will be war

As I sit here and watch the beautiful green leaves rustle and the branches swaying in the wind, I am in awe of all the shades of green I see.  The grey clouds over head unleashed a fury of rain in the night.  New growth of green is evident on most of the evergreens. The image is beautiful and serene even though it is tumultuous, like my heart.  This space is my favorite place to write.  I am surrounded by large windows that give me a front row seat of God’s awe inspiring creation.  You can find beauty in most places if you are willing to see.  It is in this place that I come to connect with God.  My Bible is open and my pen is beside my open journal. 

My heart feels turbulent, like the weather I am watching.  There is beauty and life and tumultuous winds all in one space.  I find it beautifully fitting that the very first verse I read says “May God give you grace and peace.”  1Thessalonians 1:1

Yes please!

I feel that these past two years have been a wild ride of challenges, emotions, big life decisions and it has challenged me and forced me to look deeply for what I believe to be truth about God.

There was once a time in my young adult mind where I had a very idealistic concept of what a Christian is.  There were upright and moral. They did not sin because they were God following people.  They overcame temptation, they overcame their weaknesses, and they did not yell or swear or lose their temper.  They never drank too much, they were always joyful and happy to help and serving others was second nature.

Right. 

I learned very quickly that idealistic view was and is not possible.  I am human and human nature is inherently selfish which can only mean one thing. 

There will war. 

War between who I am and who I want to be.

 I remember some years ago when this realization first dawned on me.  I was in church and we were singing a worship song.  It was as if the room of hundreds of people became silent, and God spoke just to me. It was unmistakable and perfectly clear.  I would mess up again and again, but God’s grace is real and He is waiting for me to come back to Him each time I make a mistake.  I realized in this moment, that there are weaknesses I may never overcome.  The victory is that I choose to come to Jesus each and every time and ask His forgiveness, and get up and try again. And repeat. And never quit.  This is the good fight.  And not just trying again on my own willpower, but relying on Christ to help me.

“For I do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13

I can get back up again, and try again because God gives me the strength.

We live in a broken world, there will be brokenness. That is unavoidable. The victory is choosing God’s grace and not quitting. Not staying down when we have fallen, but getting up and standing tall knowing that we serve a God who relentlessly loves us.

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The struggle with contentment

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Over a year ago I was having a conversation with a friend while we were walking.  We were talking about a certain fashion label and how much we loved their jackets.  Our conversation ended up with us both admitting that no matter how much we had, we always want more.  We were talking about wanting more stuff. New furniture, designer hand bags, new clothes, etc.

This candid conversation has always stayed with me.  It exposed a part of my heart.  An insatiable desire for more. I am incredibly blessed; I have more than most.  And yet, I find my heart wandering into discontentment and a desire for more.

Allowing my heart to be discontent is a dangerous thing, because where does it end?

Discontent with my appearance?

Discontent with my stuff?

Discontent with friendships? 

How about discontent with my marriage? 

It is easy to recognize the danger when you are looking at it from a removed situation.  The problem is not my things, the problem is my heart.

After the conversation with my friend, I did some soul searching.  I most certainly did not want to become a woman who always needed more.  I recognized that my life was great and that what I had to work on was choosing to be content and see that what I have is great; and not allow my heart to always see what I want or think I should have.    

How do I combat my moments of discontentment? I purposefully and intentionally thank my God daily for all that I have.  I choose to see the blessings that I have, and not the things that I do not have.  I choose to see the good in my life and have a heart of gratitude to my God.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” Philippians 4:6,7.

I have come to realize that this instruction is in the Bible because it is so easy to be discontent; to default to a heart that is selfish and greedy instead of thankful and grateful.   We must seek our God with a heart of gratitude for all the good if we are to overcome our discontentment.   This is an action that takes intention, work and practice.

“…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything, I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13.

You have a choice to make. You can choose to want more. Or you can choose to take a step back and see all the blessings in your life.

Try it. Right now I want you to list 10 things you are grateful for. Thank God for each of those 10 things. And each time you catch yourself with a heart of discontentment, make a choice to replace it with 5 things you are grateful for. Do that each time. And slowly that heart of discontentment starts to change to that of gratitude. And I promise, you will be much more pleasant to be around when you choose to see the good in your life.

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