As I mentioned in my Ash Wednesday post, I’m doing a lot of inner wrestling with God this Lenten season. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why I’m wrestling, but now I know the right word: contentment. I read a blog-friend’s post on her struggle with contentment and it suddenly hit me…that’s my struggle! That’s what I’m wrestling with God about right now!
BEB talks about her past few years and how she tends to measure her life on milestones or landmarks. I do the same, and I’m about at the point of going insane from it…seriously.
My parents were high school sweethearts who married young after college and started a family relatively young. I grew up wanting to be like them – wanting to marry my high school sweetheart, marry younger, and start a family at a younger age. (I think it’s really cool that the year I was married my parents were not even 50 years old!) That was my plan and I was perfectly happy with my plan. Then God stepped in.
I married my high school sweetheart. Check.
At a young age. Check.
We bought a house straight out of college. Check.
We talked about having children young…
And that’s where my plan derailed.
That’s where God took over.
I was diagnosed with cancer.
We started seminary.
We started helping to build a new church.
We started working full-time to support life and seminary.
We can’t have kids until after 5 years of treatment. (That dream, Shot!)
We added a second degree program.
What’s the saying about making a plan and watching God laugh?
I hit some of my milestones, but due to God’s derailing of my plan, I created new ones for myself, but even those were derailed. Now I’m just a big mess trying to find contentment in my life.
My friends are all working in the church and some of them are graduating from seminary this year or have already. They are able to or already have started their families. I don’t, I won’t for another year, and I can’t for a while longer.
My husband is leading a thriving ministry at a church and has real prospects with the church. I’m serving as an interim at a church and still trying to figure out where and how God is calling me to serve the Church.
I’m ready to graduate, but still have another 14 months to go, and even then I don’t know if/when I’ll be ordained. I keep creating these milestones for myself that I’m not reaching and I’m starting to become quickly discontented. So that’s my real struggle.
When did I forget to rely on God for my contentment? When did I forget to trust God’s providence in my life? When did I get lost…and how do I get back?
I know that I am a loved, protected and lifted up child of God. I know that my life is not mine but God’s, and I’m trying to live in gratitude and therefore in service of God, whatever that may be. I know that I’m blessed to live the life that I do – to be in a place where I can pursue two Masters degrees; to be married to the amazing, God-chosen partner and love that is my husband; to be serving a congregation that loves and supports me and my husband and that encourages me to learn and grow in my ministry; to be free of cancer and to have had a relatively easy treatment and recovery period; to have the family and friends that I do who constantly pray for me, look out for me, ask about me, and even feed and house me and my husband on a very regular basis seeking nothing in return. I’m blessed. I’m loved. I’m claimed by God and lifted up for service to God’s church.
I’m just also struggling to make that my focus this Lent rather than focusing on where my life has derailed from my plans for me.
So, here goes.
Contentment, you’re my new best friend, like it or not.
At least that’s my plan…