It’s the winter of my discontent. Poetic language is sometimes lost on me, so I’ve always thought there’s something about winter that makes a person discontented. For some reason, I dwell on all the things I want or don’t have more in the cold, snowy, dreary months of winter.
This winter, my discontent includes:
- our house
- our income
- being a stay-at-home mom
- my husband
- the present
- the future
And those are just the things that come to mind immediately. I know I’ve dwelt on other areas recently. Earlier this week, I was convinced I was not cut out for motherhood and God had no use for me in His kingdom. The reason? I’ve spent the better part of the last week battling illness (in myself) and wiping the children’s noses. This latter activity brings me no fulfillment whatsoever. So, I began to wonder, what use I could possibly be to the kingdom of God while wiping noses every couple of minutes. My heart longs for greater things; my mind has dreams of glory.
Somewhere inside me, I know that motherhood is a blessed gift, the HIGHEST calling maybe, but in this instant-gratification, microwave dinner world, the payoff of parenting is like slow roasting a turkey. I feel like I have to wait years before I’ll see any reward from this gig. I used to work in newspapers. The results of my labors were daily. Motherhood seems to be the same thing, day in, day out.
That’s not exactly fair. Our days are not boring by any means, but sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who experiences the madness, and what good is that to anyone else?
The apostle Paul said he had learned the secret of being content, and people usually follow that with his statement, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So Christ is the secret to contentment, but how does that live itself out in my world? I know I ought to be content, but I’m not really sure how to get there. When I find myself wanting to be content, I discover something else with which I’m discontented.
And I’m a little afraid I’m going to spend my whole life like this — wanting what I can’t have or don’t have, wishing for another season of life, wondering why I’m not OK with life as it is instead of longing for life as I wish it was.
What are your secrets to contentment? How do you live with your life as it is while still hoping for better things to come?
Yesterday, three auction trucks pulled up in front of the house across the street. Our neighbor had been sick for a few weeks then was moved to an assisted living facility. Her family, it seems, had been through the house. What was left was left to the auction company to haul away.
Two trucks of stuff. One truck of garbage. A person’s whole life, as it were, all her possessions, gone in a day. Someone else determined what was important enough to keep, what could be sold and what should be thrown away.
Watching the process was sad, in a way, even though I didn’t know our neighbor at all. But it reminded me how quickly life passes, how easily “stuff” comes into our life and leaves it.
I’m trying to start this process myself in our house. One of my areas of discontentment is the size of our house compared to the amount of “stuff” we have. It’s not the house, really, that’s the problem; it’s our accumulation of things. I’ve begun boxing up things we aren’t using right now. I’ve started a give away bag. I’ve bagged up newspapers and magazines to recycle.
I’m not convinced it will solve my discontentment, but it’s a start.
When Shakespeare wrote the “winter of discontent” line, he meant that discontent was dying. I get it now. And I’m hoping that this really is the winter of my discontent.