What An Orange Giraffe Cup Taught Me About Contentment and Trust

IMG_20170424_135649532

I’m in one of those crazy seasons where God is teaching me so much about myself through my children, especially through my one year old. Some of it isn’t necessarily for sharing. (I’ll spare you insight on the parallels between redemption from sin and a diaper blow out.) But yesterday during the church service God did speak to me through a sippy cup.

I was on my own with three kids during opening worship as my husband was serving. My mom provided a helping hand, but soon my sister and her three boys arrived as well, so she quickly had her hands and lap full. I had the baby on one hip and was trying to keep an eye on the other two as they colored and visited with their cousins. I try to encourage them to sing and read the words to the songs, but thus far I’m just happy we actually get through the service each week without me completely losing my mind.

Suddenly my usually happy one year old began to thrash and squawk. He had spotted the sippy cup belonging to his cousin sitting in the row in front of us. As chance would have it, today my sister and I had selected identical cups for our youngest children; an orange Nalgene with a giraffe on it.

I tried to explain to my son that it was not his cup. I kept saying “If you are thirsty, I have one for you.” But he, being 18 months old, naturally didn’t listen to reason. So I finally handed him his own cup that I had stowed out of sight in the diaper bag. He immediately began to calm down but still stared suspiciously at his cousin’s cup even as he guzzled from his own. At that moment, I felt God speak to my heart.

 

“Why are you so quick to complain about what others have? Can you not see that I am providing all that you need and that I am even anticipating your future needs?”

 

My son could not understand why his cousin had something that he was convinced was his. Except it wasn’t his. But he was unable comprehend that I had anticipated his need and had already taken care of it. How often do I lack the faith and understanding to realize that God knows my needs, even before I do?
He has gone before me to prepare the way. He will supply all that I need. It is so very easy to see what others have, and respond in envy or even entitlement. I cry out that it isn’t fair, especially when it’s something that feels so very necessary or is an long held desire. But in those moments, I lose sight of who God is. He is a loving Father, who wants good and wonderful things for me, but also what is best. I may squawk for my neighbor’s cup, when in fact God is preparing for me exactly what I need at the right time.
He has provided for your needs, don’t look at what others have, look at what He has already given and trust that He will provide whatever else you might need.

Advertisements

Want What You Have: Mindset for Moms

3429973239_3365fe1c8d_o

Photo Credit: Kevin Conor Keller via Compfight cc

Wow! I can so relate to Jamie Martin when she talks about the danger of discontentment. It’s easy to always be looking forward to the next big thing. But as she so sagely points out, what we have now is often the answer to long awaited prayers and desires. I know I always wanted to be a mom. Within a year of our marriage, I got bit by the baby bug, yet it was 6 years until my daughter was born. As I look around my home today, it can be easy to be dissatisfied. I look at the relatively small size of my living room (at least by U.S. standards) and I forget that this is the house that we prayed and slaved for because all I can see is the clutter and lack of space. I wipe another food grimed face or another dirty bottom and I forget that these little faces and bottoms are what I prayed for. As I waited for my first child to be born and almost every one of my friends waltzed into church carrying their own bundles of joy, I cried and prayed for a child. When we lost our second child in a miscarriage I prayed that we would get pregnant again easily and our child would be born healthy. He was born almost one year to the day of my miscarriage. But as I feed and wrangle him I sometimes forget that he is an answered prayer.

I need to have goals and dreams, but also I need to live now. Not obsessed whether I’m doing it all “right” or worry about what comes next. I can plan for the future without missing out on the present. So this week I’m going to try to BE. Even if it means setting aside important tasks or delaying plans. I need to want what I have now. I have a home of my own with beautiful children and a husband who loves me. Even in the mess and the chaos, Jamie is right when she says “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Getting what you want in life is amazing, even if you didn’t get it when or how you though you would. Don’t miss out on it.

Mindset for Moms From Mundane to Marvelous Thinking in Just 30 days

How Do You Want to Change? Mindset for Moms

Talk Less: Mindset for Moms

Remember the Promise of the Seasons: Mindset for Moms

Web

 

Jealousy will get me nowhere, only gratitude can improve my life

“No one should be allowed to have that much money.” I’ve heard that phrase more times than I can count, especially lately. The irony is that each time it was applied to someone from a different income bracket. When I read this post on Get Rich Slowly, it brought to mind a topic that I’ve dealt with for sometime both in my own attitudes and those of others. The article wonders why Americans are so jealous of the wealthy and yet seek that wealth for themselves. To me the answer is simple: it isn’t just Americans, it’s all humans. We each have a different definition of wealth and different perspective on what is too much.

(Not to get political, but this is part of why I dislike the political movements based on “making the wealthy pay because they can afford it.” Most of us define wealthy as anyone who makes more money than we do. That’s hardly an objective definition. Not to mention that cost of living varies so much from one side of theUnited Statesto the other. Someone who is considered wealthy in Kentucky on the same income might qualify for welfare in California.) Human jealousy is as old as time itself. We all struggle with it from time to time and the question becomes, of what benefit is jealousy?

It is easy to look at someone who has more than me, especially someone with A LOT more and vilify him or her. It’s easy to dislike someone who has it all and seems to have life so easy. In the case of stranger envy, I really don’t know how they got their money or what they do with it. I’m only looking on the outside at their fancy car and big house and wishing I could afford those. They could be in debt, they could have worked for years for that money, or they could have inherited it and never worked a day. But in my experience, all that speculation does is make me less satisfied with the life I have. Yes, I can recognize on an intellectual level when I see someone I know personally making poor financial decisions. But being angry or resentful about how he or she chooses to spend money won’t benefit either of us.

I agree that there are bad people who have a lot of money and thus accomplish bad things with their money or those who take advantage of others to achieve their success. But there are also those who accomplish many positives things with their wealth, choosing to live on less and give generously with the rest. I’m going to say something very controversial right now. It isn’t my job or my business how much someone else has. I can only control my own behaviors and attitudes. I have absolutely no say in the wealth of someone else, NOR SHOULD I.

So how to combat jealously when I see a celebrity or politician living large? First, I remind myself that wishing them poorer won’t make me any richer (or them any poorer, if that is the goal).  I need to strive in all things to be content. By contentment I don’t mean complacency. To me, contentment is recognition of the good things I have in my life, coupled with gratitude. The secret to contentment is gratitude. When I focus on being grateful for what I do have, I am taking the focus off of others and their behavior and putting it on myself. It isn’t always an easy thing to do. It is always easier and more pleasant to criticize someone else than to analyze my own heart and motives. Jealousy focuses on what someone else has that I don’t. Gratitude focuses on what I do have and, sometimes, what I have that others don’t. Recognizing how much I am blessed with motivates gratitude, which in turn should motivate generosity. Jealousy only creates dissatisfaction, resentment and bitterness, none of which produce a positive outcome.

When I am looking at myself instead of others, I am in a much better position to evaluate my life and goals, and decide on any changes I wish to make to pursue a different and/or better life. My financial choices should be based only on my own plans in life, not necessarily my desire to achieve what someone else has. But it’s hard to affectively evaluate my own decisions when I’m focused on the life and behaviors of others instead of myself.

So next time your next door neighbor buys a new car or you pass by a McMansion across town and get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach; go home and hug your spouse and children. Eat dinner together. Call a friend who has made a difference in your life. Send a thank you card to a mentor. Or make a good old fashioned list of all the good things in your life for which you can be thankful. It may not make your bank account larger, but it will make what you do have more enjoyable, and it could encourage positive steps towards pursuing the positive goals in your own life.