Monday, August 18, 2014

How To Give Up

It's the proverbial light at the end of most military spouses' tunnels. It's this glimmer of hope that helps us to pack, move, unpack, and then repeat as directed. What is it? 

It's the vision of the Family Home. It's the notion of putting down roots, mortgaging a house, and finally FINALLY getting to experiment with all of those Pinterest projects that have been filling our boards and dreams! It's the romanticized plan of settling down in your grand home on the picket-fenced property that the kids and grandkids can return to year after year.  It will be idyllic, cozy, and sweet. It will be our own Green Gables or Rose Cottage-but with indoor plumbing and air conditioning!  Surely our husband will get a great paying, M-F job where he will be home on weekends, not 'stand duty' overnight, or be floating in the middle of the ocean. AND he will make plenty of money to afford the above home, of course.

BUT! What if your husband doesn't take the six figure job offer?(choke choke!) What if he decides to join the ranks of the dreaded 'self-employed'? (Nooooo!) What if his principles and values lead him to start a business where he uses those military-taught skills to better his community? Well, in a nutshell, that means two years of business records to qualify for a meager mortgage. It means two plus years to qualify for something bigger than a shoebox (especially in Alaska!). It means my own Green Gables is on hold....indefinitely...sigh.

 ...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation....Phillippians 4:12

Contentment. The struggle with it plagues most of our society. It is the most oft-mentioned topic among my Mom friends. The Apostle Paul had to LEARN it. He had to be intentional and purposeful with it. He had to practice it to get it. Why, why, why is it so stinkin' hard to achieve?!

It's not as easy as just simplifying and down-sizing as many minimalist blogs would have you believe. As my analytical, yet usually correct, handsome hubby likes to point out, those are external actions that may or may not stem from an internal perspective shift. Just because someone has altered the size of their living space or quantity of possessions, does not mean that their heart is satisfied. Often, but not always,  they have just re-prioritized what their desires are into a different venue. (Yes, he's not only good looking and highly principled, but a deep thinker, too.)

In my case, I had the recent wake-up call that my cozy, nest-filled agenda was not God's. I was discontent because I was railing against His plan for my journey. I was too busy stalking craigslist and the local MLS to pay attention to His still small voice. I was too distracted for contentment in my current home by constantly looking at how I could gut it and improve it if only given the deed. Oh, I have plans for my homestead, and God was just in my way! My husband and his business were in my way! My whole situation was just in my way! (Stomp stomp)

Wow. Then through a variety of sources and venues (like the Spirit so often does), God gently showed me, not only the error of my sinful, toddler-ish  thoughts, but the way to conquer them:

1) First I had to remember that He has called me to this life. He has laid out the path for me to follow. My end goal is/should be to hear Him say "'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things...Come and share your master's happiness!'" (Matthew 25:21When I pause and actually play this scenario out in my mind, I am able to truly make this my ultimate desire. Consequently, it's much easier to remember that it's not about my timing or my agenda. It's about His and being faithful to this path He has called me to. And yes, while it may not be as literary and poetic as I wish it to be, it is what He has deemed appropriate for me, my family, and His divine plan. Besides, when I think about the horrible genocide occurring right now in Iraq and the persecuted church and poverty-stricken people all over the world, I have to ask "Is renting a house for a couple of years longer really that horrible of a trial? Really?"

2) Once I have that newly reshaped vision in sight, then the next step is the natural overflow. I must surrender. I must give God all of my plans, hopes, and ideals. I must truly and sincerely say to Him "Your will be done." As a friend prays  "Lord, let your will be done, and let us be faithful enough to accept it."

3) This leads to the most recent insight that the Lord has given me on this topic. To truly be content, I must not only accept, but embrace this journey I am on. I need to quit looking for ways to expedite His process or 'help' Him find loopholes to make it happen in my time-frame. I cannot resent the financial or familial situation that the Lord has placed me in. This is the journey that He has called me to. I need to be found faithful in it. 

I need to "...Do everything without grumbling [complaing] or arguing..." (Phillipans 2:14), whether that means out loud or internally! 

I have to purpose to seek joy in my situation. I have to choose to "....give thanks in all things..." (1Thessalonians 5:18), and I have to truly keep my perspective focused on eternity. I truly believe that living this way will lead to the spiritually abundant life promised in John 10:10. Do I want to merely accept my lot in life, or do I want to enjoy my life abundantly?

I have found that, for me, the most tangible weapon that I wield in the battle against discontent is to stop and pray for the chronically ill, hurting, dying, persecuted, starving, homeless, enslaved people scattered all over this world around me. There are literally those that live in constant fear and constant need with no hope of an end in sight. This is their life. If I take my eyes off of me and my shallow desires, and put them on Him and the mission field around me, I am much more able to count my blessings.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
As we can see by this song, penned in 1897, what I have written above is nothing new or mind-blowing. It is  a timeless struggle with a timeless answer. However, it is the fresh wake-up call that I needed, and I pray that it will encourage you in your own battle as well. 

Be brave and courageous fellow Warrior of the King! It is truly a noble, vital battle that you are fighting, and you CAN ' all things through Christ which gives [you] strength" (Phillippians 4:13) which definitely includes slaying that nagging monster of discontent!

Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep on singing as the days go by

Hillary At Home

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