Staying Content in This Season

"But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world." -1 Timothy 6:6-7

I am in a strange season of my life.  I guess I would call it the land of in-between.  Since students have returned to school, but I didn't return to work as a teacher this year, I am definitely feeling a little...well, out of place.  Especially since I work as a substitute teacher once in a while.  It's weird that the kids are not "mine" anymore and that I'm just in a classroom for the day.  I'm not by any means, regretting my decision to step out on faith and become a full-time entrepreneur, but not having a set schedule can be a little unsettling at times.

I was reflecting on my adult life up to now and I realized that in the past ten years that I've lived in Florida, I've always been actively pursuing "the next thing".  You know what I mean: the next job, the next dream, or the next big ticket item.  In fact, I couldn't recall the last time I was decidedly content with my current situation.  Now, I've had a lot of good things happen to me over the past decade.  I've married an incredible man, we've moved into a new home, I've served in several wonderful churches, I've gotten new, exciting jobs, we've paid off consumer debt, we've started our family, and I've released my first album.  As amazing as all those things were, I've realized I missed a lot of opportunities to be content during those moments.

This verse from Timothy has been convicting me lately.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.  I always seek to serve God, to pray and to read His Word on a daily basis.  But mixing that ingredient with contentment for whatever season I'm in has been lacking from my life.  That's tough to admit, but true.  So, I've decided to practice contentment in this in-between season of my life.  Here are five ways I'm doing so:

1. Outlining my purposes for this season.  I had to dig deep to find my purpose for this time in my life.  In the past, I just tied it into working, but that was more of an easy scapegoat than a true purpose. Eventually, I came up with a list of purposes, starting with the fact that I find my true purpose in Christ, not in a job, another person, or a big dream.  Another purpose I realized I've been called to for this season is to be a blessing to those around me.  I've had a lot of fun coming up with ways to help those in my life right now.  

2. Counting my blessings in prayer.  It's amazing what a healthy dose of gratitude will do!  A couple of years ago, I wrote in a gratitude journal and came up with five things a day I was grateful for in my life.  I've since finished that journal, but I try to continue the practice when I'm feeling down.  Recently, I started incorporating my gratitude list into my daily prayer time.  I want God to know how grateful I am for the blessings He's bestowed in my life right now.  

3. Allowing God to convict and change my attitude.  At times, my attitude has been way too much like a child's.  I've shaken my fist at God and said, "I don't want this.  Why don't you just give me what I want?"  Once I enter the land of adulthood again (usually after a good pout), I remind myself that God knows how to run my life a lot better than I do.  So, I pray and ask for His help on changing my attitude.  And He doesn't disappoint.  I'm so thankful to serve a God who can handle my many emotions each day!

4. Staying positive by monitoring my thoughts.  We all have that self-talk that cycles through our brains.  Have you ever stopped to listen?  When I started to do that, I realized why I struggle with a sour attitude at times.  Some of the stuff that goes through my brain, especially in regard to myself, is downright mean.  You're not good enough to run a business.  What made you think you could be a successful musician?  You might as well give up; you're never going to make it to where you want to be.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who has "heard" these kinds of thoughts cycling through my brain!  What I realized is that these thoughts are going to come, but if I make myself aware of them I can combat them with positive statements.  So when I get the message that says, You're not good enough to run a business, I can turn it around and say back to myself, I may not be experienced yet, but I'm willing to learn from my mistakes and reach out to those around me who do know how to run a business so I can get better at this.  I've noticed a huge difference in my internal dialogue since working to combat those negative thoughts with positive ones.

5. Realizing that this season is only temporary and my state of mind will follow me into the next season.  Fall is my favorite season.  It's beautiful outside and there are vibrant colors all around and everything is pumpkin-flavored.  Yes, I am that gal.  I like my coffee orange.  But fall is only a small sliver of time in a year.  Just like this season is only one small sliver in my life.  I'm sure at this time next year, I'll be dealing with a completely different set of circumstances.  My mom has always said, "Change is hear to stay."  She's right.  I've realized that whether I'm actively practicing contentment or allowing discontentment to throw me into a tailspin, that mindset is going to follow me into the next season.  Maybe I'll knock out every goal on my bucket list.  I'll move to the city of my dreams and live and work where I want to, but if I leave my former season with the wrong attitude, I'll just carry it over into the next one.  That's scary, and not something I want to do.  I want to walk into my next season excited for having made it, but appreciative of all that I had to endure to get there.  I want to enjoy the journey, not just the arrival to my dreams.

Since I've been practicing these five principles, I've noticed a huge difference in my state of contentedness.  I am finding joy all around me, in little things I wouldn't have noticed before.  Today before his nap, my precious three-year old laid on my lap and snuggled with me on the couch.  It filled me with such a sense of peace and purpose.  If nothing else, right now, Landon needs me to be his mama.  His joy-filled, content-with-this-season mama.  So that's what I'll be.

I hope whatever season of life you find yourself in, you'll take time to appreciate the many blessings around you today.  Being content is not going to happen automatically, but working on that mindset is a worthy pursuit that is sure to fill you with joy in every season.