Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Journey to Contentment

Let me preface this blog with a disclaimer . . . My thought processes are very clear to me, but I won't be surprised if they are unclear to you.  Please feel free to ask if you don't understand me. 

I have spent a good portion of the summer helping a pregnant teenager manage the craziness that life brings as a mother approaches giving birth, delivering the baby, and adjusting to life at home. The teenager who longs to be married with a family, wonders why she made these choices;  for me, being someone that has longed to be a mother for many years, this was an bittersweet experience. I saw my first live ultrasound and the miracle of birth which I am still in awe of the God I serve from that experience.  It will be an experience that I will never forget.  I am forever grateful to God for allowing me to witness these things.  God amazingly made this experience mostly sweet, though I could have wasted much time in the bitter.  Why does God allow teenagers who don't want to be pregnant to get pregnant, when so many married people long to be parents and aren't able to be parents?

I used to be stumped by this and other questions, but God has begun to teach me this summer about expectations and entitlement.  The natural progression is get married and have children.   I often see Christians ask single people, "Why aren't you married yet?"  (As if they are less than normal because they aren't married.)  Am I better than another person and therefore deserve to be a parent more than others?  (And my ugly pride surfaces in entitlement.)  This "natural" progression may not necessarily be what God has for each person, and that doesn't make them any less of a person or any less valuable.  I don't think anyone would say that, but that is the message that is communicated to the person who isn't married or without children. 

For fear of this being a blog that is too long, I am going to try cut to my bottom line here.  Life is not about our expectations or sense of entitlement.  Bottom line . . . my life is not about ME.  The US has created a culture of entitlement, and it has creeped into Christianity.  I expect and am entitled to have children, good health, a husband, a full time, good paying job.  God doesn't promise any of these things.  He promises us Himself. He promises that He will meet our needs. He promises that trials and tribulations will make us more like Him. When we evaluate our expectations and entitlements in light of God and His Will, our expectations and entitlements must die.   

We think that being married should be an expectation, but Paul talks about it being better to be single than married because you can focus on the Lord instead of your spouse.  (I Corinthians 7:8) I think the same applies to children.  Because I don't have children, I am free to focus on the Lord and the ministry that He has to be done.  Poor health and poor paying jobs keeps us humble and dependent on the Lord instead of self-sufficient and prideful. 

I'll end with a verse that a friend shared with me today, and that was such an encouragement:  For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11. 

She quoted this verse, and God said to me, "See . . . I told you that I wouldn't withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly.  You walk uprightly, and I'll give you everything that is good for you.  Obviously, having a husband in good health, or having children are not good for you right now.  You may think they are, but they are not. Trust Me."  I need to rest there . . . in Him. 

So remember that God's goals are the only ones that lead us to contentment.  Evaluate your expectations in light of Scripture, and you will see the road to contentment as you let go of your self-centered goals.