Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Truth about Discontentment

It's sneaky.

It's sly.

It can slither, creep, crawl, or tip-toe right into your mind and then burrow deep within your heart. Before you even realize it, something pure and innocent can transform into something dark and ugly, while never changing out of its pretty package.


At least, that's how it happened to me.

That's how discontentment took root in my life again.

It surprised me. Shocked me.

I mean, how can something other than gratitude take hold of my heart when I've spent the last six months counting gifts and choosing joy?

But there in the middle of Target, between the florescent-lit aisles of picture frames and home decor accents, it hit me. And I had to admit it.

Out loud. To my husband. "I am discontent."

From the evidence of the last few weeks, he was quick to agree.

It started right after our move. We unpacked boxes and found new homes for dishes, toiletries, and clothes. My husband hung hooks by the front door and my calming lily canvas over the white chunky mantel.

As we found a place for everything in our new space, we saw a need for a few new things. A basket for shoes so we can attempt to keep the beautiful wood floors clean. Curtains to fit the long window in the boys' room. A welcome mat to wipe our feet.

Then the oven we inherited was broken so we invested in a stainless steel stove. And for the last eight and a half years we've crowded around a small hand-me-down's hand-me-down table, so we also put some Christmas money toward our first new dining room table--a purchase with a purpose--a heart for hospitality, future gatherings of family and friends.

And there was the adorable shelf my husband surprised me with. He knew I wanted something for the void on the bathroom wall and this was the perfect fit. Hooks for the boys' towels. A spot for some added decor. A shabby-chic finish. I loved it!


Oh, and maybe some place mats for the new table and mats for cold bathroom floors.

Nothing too extravagant. Not overly excessive.

But the problem wasn't in the things. The problem was in the seeing. My seeing.

Because I started to see only the holes.

A blank wall that needed art. A bare floor that needed a rug. An empty nook that needed an overstuffed chair. Each time I identified a hole in my house, I allowed one to fester in my heart.

The blessings I once saw faded another shade each time I focused on my longing, my lack. Soon all the pictures of thanks were too faint to see.

And going to amazing places like Home Goods and Target infected the wound further. At every turn I saw another basket or mail organizer or wall hanging or pillow or whatever other artfully-rusted, chalkboard paint-painted, burlap-embellished I-gotta-have-it accessory for my new house. "That would make this room so much more functional and that room so much more inviting," I thought to myself.

And while browsing didn't turn to buying, I was still selling myself out.

Letting my joy slip away.

Instead of keeping my eyes fixed on God's grace-gifts, I allowed greed and ingratitude to steal my focus. That wasn't my intention. But that is what happened.

And then I remembered the very words I chose to frame and perch on that new rustic shelf:


 Yes. My heart remembered, too.

The cure for discontentment? Giving thanks.

The antidote for ungratefulness? Gratitude.

And the echo of Ann's words from the storehouse of truth in my mind became a balm for this self-inflicted wound on my heart.
"You can have joy any moment you turn hidden greed for more into honest gratitude for now."
I can still have joy.

The truth is, discontentment snuck into my life even when I thought I was doing everything right. 

The truth is,  I don't have to stay in this discontented place. 

My attitude, my outlook--my choice.

Yes, instead I will choose gratitude. I will keep learning the secret of being content in any and every situation. (Yes, Paul says contentment is learned. So discontentment must be unlearned.)

I will do both by giving thanks.

Thanks for the hands that hung the shelf. Thanks for the silly smiles peering down at me. Thanks for a work of art, beauty, Truth. All clear pictures of God's gifts of grace.

Ahh, yes, and always thanksgiving for his Amazing Grace.


*     *     *

Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee for the first time to #TellHisStory.

Visit The Pleated Poppy to get this free Give Thanks printable...a beautiful, needed reminder for every heart.

15 comments:

Jen said...

I know... everyday that ends with me being unsettled and discontent, I realize that I had forgotten, all day, to be thankful.
This is a great reminder for me to be more intentional about writing in my gratitude journal. Thanks so much.
And the shelf is perfect...so is the artwork!

Amber said...

I needed this! I really really needed to read this today! I have been neglecting my blog, haven't written in months, and I hop on here out of simple lack of nothing else to do and BAM!!! Here is your post. It is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you SO much for sharing this. Praise God for knowing my struggles and letting me see that I am not alone and there is a way to crawl out of this misery that I have built up around me. Thank you!

Sweetly Broken Girl said...

Loved this post. Beautifully true. I was telling a friend that contentment is so hard to learn because you can only learn it the hard way, by dying to self, letting God re-prioritize your life and prune away things you do not need. And then, you have to learn to be content with the life He gave you now, holes and all. Focusing on the blessings is crucial. Thank you for your beautiful words.

Linda@Creekside said...

amen amen, Becky. along the way so many of us have gone there. and forfeited something of great value along the way ...

thank you for penning this wisdom.

Caryn Christensen said...

I can relate so closely to this Becky. There are some genuine needs we have, and there's nothing wrong with new. But when we don't take the time to give thanks for what we DO have, just as you stated so well here, discontent creeps in. My one word for 2014 is "Steward". I'm learning to steward ALL that the Lord has given me. Focusing on stewardship has already made me realize my blessings. So yesterday, when I went with a friend to Home Goods (love that store), I was surprisingly content to help her find things for her home!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant blog, becky, so so so true sweetly broken girl... you can only learn it the hard way... dying to self... learning...

Anonymous said...

I honestly did not know why Marshall's and Home Goods have drawn me like a magnet these past few weeks. I only knew that the word "hoarder" was beginning to haunt me in the middle of the night....I even got up at 3:30 a.m. and quietly started to clean out my closet, careful not to wake my husband, who has been so patient with my clutter and disorganization. Thank you for the reminder to be content...Mimi Wilson, a precious woman of God, spoke these words into my life many years ago. I have learned that thankfulness is a very powerful tool, but needed to be reminded that discontentment is also very powerful. And destructive. Not to mention, expensive!

Patchwork Me said...

Timely words for me, I am planning to move house soon. My new house needs a lot of work and redecoration to turn it into a lovely home for my family. I am so grateful and thankful to God for this opportunity, I just need to ensure I hold onto that thankful heart over the coming days, weeks and months ahead. And not lose sight of His provision, or get distracted by the 'needs' and 'wants' that will sap my joy.

Anonymous said...

thank you

MaryAnn Waltz said...

Thank you so much for this, Becky! I made a pronouncement in iur home that "2014 is the year of home-improvement!" And while I do want to work on some things around the house, your wise words are a very timely reminder to me.... thankfulness & gratitude must remain intentional! Thank you!!

And btw, congrats on being shared in Ann's 'Only the Good Stuff.' So awesome! Your words are always worth reading & sharing. Love your heart, my friend!

CaveGurl said...

Thank you!! This is exactly what I needed to hear again today! It certainly does sneak in and I don't even realize it!

Thank you for the free printable too! It is the perfect size and the most perfect message!!

Found you through Ann Voskamp's site, congrats on the feature!

Dana Nichols said...

Beautifully stated! so glad Ann had a link to your post!

Lisa said...

Wonderful post. I have friends and family who enjoy going to model homes. They say it gives them decorating ideas. I end up feeling "discontent". I begin to see the flaws in something I used to find beautiful. So, my cure has been to not go look at model homes. I'm not shopping for a house anyway.

IE said...

Becky,

What a great caution against the corrupting power of our fleshly desires. We are blinded by the wanting not the having. Only through living by God's grace and intentionally looking for it in our lives can we be truly satisfied.

Emily Walsh said...

Hi Becky! Just got done reading up on your blog and had a quick question. I was hoping that you could email me back when you get the chance. Thanks!

Emily : )