I have learned the secret of being content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. –Philippians 4:11b-13
Have you ever been entirely out of your comfort zone? I can think of several examples. Most recently, I experienced the unique transition that comes with starting college. I spent my senior year of high school sad about leaving friends, but also excited and completely convinced that I was going exactly where God wanted me to be.
However, the night before moving in, I found myself curled up on my mom’s bed sobbing. I was terrified to start my first day. I was worried about making friends, starting classes, and saying goodbye. I also had no clue where to even find my school on a map and the realization that my family was going to be thirteen hours away made me feel vulnerable and alone.
The next morning, driving up to campus, I was short with my family, could feel the tears about to spill over, and yet was desperately trying to hold it all together for the moment I stepped out of the car and risked running into a future classmate. I had stopped trusting that God had a plan in all of this and that I just needed to follow, and had started focusing in on everything that could possibly go wrong with a set of circumstances that were completely foreign to me.
Have you ever felt that way before?
I love the verse at the top of this post. I love how it challenges and convicts me that there is still a lot of work to be done. I have learned the secret of being content whatever the circumstances. And what are the circumstances?
- In need
- In plenty
- In any and every situation
- When well fed
- When hungry
- Living in plenty
- Living in want
This year in my discipleship group, I read a book called Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. In each chapter, Linda addressed a different area of our lives that we need to learn to be content in. She included one woman’s recipe for contentment to help us view each day differently. It was so incredibly convicting to me that I want to share it with you…
- Never allow yourself to complain about anything—not even the weather.
- Never picture yourself in any other circumstances of someplace else.
- Never compare your lot with another’s.
- Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
- Never dwell on tomorrow—remember that [tomorrow] is God’s, not ours.
(Calm My Anxious Heart page 13).
I remember the night we discussed this in discipleship group and I was overwhelmed with how much I needed a serious change in my attitude towards each day. My leader challenged us to try to put one of the items on the list above into practice for the week. As I left the room, I had already messed up on mine several times.
This first year of college has certainly been a journey for me. I have been broken down and built back up. I have learned that I have strengths and weaknesses that I did not even know existed. I have tried new things and made new friendships. I have written a lot more checks. I have learned how to manage my time better, and how to do well in my classes.
All my circumstances have changed around me constantly. Our circumstances will change around us every day. But did you catch the end of the verse above? The secret of being content whatever the circumstances is that we can do everything through Him who gives us strength.
That’s the biggest thing that I have learned this year. No matter what my circumstances are, I can overcome and flourish in them through Him, Jesus, who gives me strength. I still mess up each and every day. But I’m finding that I am a lot more content when I am tapping into the strength of my Savior rather than my own limited supply.
I smile when I think about how nervous I was on that first day of school this year. In a lot of ways, I am not that same person. God knew exactly what He was doing. I just needed to trust that His plan was a lot bigger and better than mine. And that He knew my circumstances and would bring me through them.
Today, I want to issue to you the same challenge that my discipleship group leader gave me at the beginning of the year. Pick something on the list of contentment and try to put in into practice this week. I think you’ll be surprised by the results.