Are you content with yourself?
I ask this because I find myself constantly fighting my ownself, trying to be a better mom, more fit, stronger, happier, and the list goes on. I am forever reaching for the unrealistic perfection it appears others have obtained but has eluded me my entire life.
Every personality test I take describes me the same way. “perfectionist” “fear of failure” “reformer” “aware of flaws in themselves, others, and situations”.
This may or may not be you. What is it you struggle with in the contentment area? What areas of your life do find troublesome and tempting to give up on?
The Key to Being Content with Yourself
I do not want to over simplify this because believe me, I know the struggle is real. Life is a complicated, tangled mess sometimes and all areas overlap. Learning to be content with what you have or learning to be content with your job or your life in general can seem like a daunting task.
Throw in things like being unhappy in your marriage or with your location or your finances. Our attitude can go south rapidly.
For me, the key to being content with yourself is learning to bloom where you are planted.
When I think of this quote, a story I heard long ago comes to mind. It was told by a Holocaust survivor. Words like starvation, death, burning bodies, gas chambers, executions, fear, and grief flowed from her pen as she described the horrors of her life in a concentration camp. She attempted to paint a picture of the darkness of those days, a world gone mad with cruelty and evil that many of us cannot imagine.
She tells of a single flower which grew through a crack in the road. To her, the delicate bloom was a symbol of hope; the strong little plant was a symbol of determination to live in a place that only brought death.
That little flower bloomed in the place God had put it. The one place it was meant to make a difference.
I Want to Be Happy and Contented with My Life!
I want to be that flower! I want to grow through the hard times and bloom in the darkness. I want to be so full of hope and determination to live that others see me and find their own hope and determination. I want to bloom in the place I have been planted!
BUT it’s hard, isn’t it? How do we bloom when we are overcome with grief? How to we bloom when our anxiety robs our peace or our depression hides our joy?
What if our marriage is falling apart or our less than stellar parenting skills have caused rifts in our relationships with our kids? How do we bloom?
HOW to Bloom Where You are Planted
So, how do we become that flower? How do we bloom where we are planted?
Pray and surrender your situation to the Lord. Ask for peace and guidance.
Often times, God wishes to work in our lives and we are either not listening, expecting a different outcome, or outright disobeying. Check out this awesome post on prayer by Hope and Joy in Christ!
Sometimes we need to change ourselves through the grace of God and sometimes we need to learn to let things go. Which brings me to the next one.
Let it Go
You cannot learn to be content with yourself if you are holding onto something you were never meant to have to begin with.
Sometimes this can be dreams and ambitions. For me this is control. Control of a situation, control of my surroundings, control of other people (yep, I said it!)
It is impossible to make everything go your way. Learning to let it go will bring you closer to being content with your job or marriage or yourself.
Remembering that God is in control can bring you the peace you need.
Count Your Blessings
Count your blessings!
Yep, focus on the good and the bad doesn’t seem so bad, right? Check out these posts on gratitude to encourage you in this direction!
What Does the Bible Say About Being Content?
What does the Bible say about being content?
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
How about this for an example of blooming where he is planted?! Paul had learned to be content in any situation. I want to point out that he says “I have learned”. This is not something that happened overnight. He learned this by going through trials and unpleasant situations.
One of my favorite Paul stories along this idea is found in Acts 16. He and Silas are severely beaten and thrown into jail, their feet in stocks. Did they sit and pout?
No, they bloomed.
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (vs 25)
God sends an earthquake and frees Paul and Silas, but even if He hadn’t let’s think about Paul’s attitude. He truly had learned to be content in a bad situation. He was singing praises to God.
Blooming where you are planted means singing praises to God in the midst of your bad situation. Learning to be content with yourself means praising God even when you don’t see Him working in your life (He is, I promise!).
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
Learning to be content with yourself is learning to be content with what you have. Food and clothing. Does this make your heart sink a bit? No mention of cell phones, cars, homes, or jobs.
Maybe reducing our expectations will go a long way in helping us be content with ourselves! Jesus says:
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:31-34)
All those worries and fears can be dissolved by seeking first the kingdom of God! Blooming where you are planted means that you are not looking at your bleak situation. Your focus is elsewhere!
The fear of the Lord leads to life,
And he who has it will abide in satisfaction;
He will not be visited with evil. (Proverbs 19:23)
Satisfaction comes from the fear of the Lord. When we trust in Him as our God and Saviour, we have no reason not to be content.
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Remember I said learning to be content with yourself begins with blooming where you are planted? God wants to use the negative things in your life to draw you closer to Him.
Those hurtful or frustrating situations should keep us close to God in prayer. It is only when we try to handle them on our own that discontentment sets in.
That flower can bloom because it is focused on God, not it’s environment.
Acceptance: One Last Word about Learning to be Content with Yourself
Acceptance is key for our flower to bloom and you to be content with yourself. When we accept where we are at, find our strength in Christ, and allow God to use us in our situation (no matter how awful) we will bloom. We will learn to be content (remember “learn”, it is a process).
What about you, dear friends? I challenge you today, to bloom in the place that you’ve been planted!