Words by Heather Gilstrap // Image by Dianne Jago
I seek to find contentment here, to find a mental place of satisfaction in the midst of this culture and this world. It’s not easy. No, I’m beginning to feel that we are not meant to be satisfied here. As believers, our souls have been created to be fulfilled only by the Creator. And yet I still catch myself trying to satisfy my soul in every other way but him.
I have caught myself with expectations like, “When I get a house then I’ll be happy. Once we have a child I’ll feel secure in who I am.” I think I will be content once I have completed this stage of life or have achieved the next milestone. This mentality has left me feeling restless, completely unsettled, and discontented in my present season.
I have learned that the questions to ask myself when I am feeling discontent are: Am I recognizing the Holy Spirit? Am I aware of who God is in the midst of where I am right now? Am I counting my blessings?
My search for contentment in Christ alone has taught me the three C’s.
Oh how I struggle with this, the comparing. To see another woman’s wedding ring, her home, her marriage, her car, her clothes. I quickly begin to measure myself up to her as if it is actually possible to measure a soul, as if I could actually take someone—a completely different individual, with a different upbringing, different struggles, different passions, different destiny and calling—and see where I rate in comparison to her.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10)
This convicts me to my core, and it is such a strong reminder of who we live for. We are in this world, but not of it. We are here to be a light, not to try to gain the spotlight. And this is where I am humbled and reminded of his grace. It is so sweet.
The competing comes so naturally to me. I think for most women it’s easy to compete with one another, and even more, to compete with ourselves. I see how some women have bounced back so quickly after having a baby; I look in the mirror at myself and all I see are flaws, and all I see are all the ways I am not “that woman.” I then try my very best to find something wrong with her, to make myself feel okay with where I am. It’s not just physically—there are countless other ways I compete against her. Her amazing home-cooked meals, her seemingly composed mothering, or her ability to be so crafty and make her home look Pinterest-worthy.
When we compare and compete we turn inward and say things to ourselves like “not good enough, push yourself harder, be more like her.” Oh, this grieves the Lord. He made us fearfully and wonderfully (Ps. 139). So in essence, when we stare into the mirror and believe there is nothing there but imperfection, it is as if we are looking into our maker’s eyes and saying, “You didn’t do a good enough job on me.”
Dear sister, Scripture says otherwise. We are made in the image of God, the King of Kings, the risen Lord, the Creator of the universe! He did not create us to be in competition with each other, but to love, encourage, and build one another up for his kingdom advancement and for his purposes.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27)
The complaining began when I became a mother. Motherhood has been one of the hardest seasons of my life. It’s intense, constant, and selfless. It’s messy, needy, and dirty, and complaining became a habit. It is easy to be unhappy or to lack peace right where you are. But peace is not found in the “perfect” environment; peace is found in our perfect Savior: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isa. 26:3).
You will never find peace—only discontent—when your focus and your trust is inward. Peace is given and kept when you place your trust in Jesus, and contentment becomes a condition of your heart, not a condition of your circumstance.
“For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Phil. 4:11-12)
Paul stated this so simply, yet you know he walked through so much. He had peaceful days, and others full of intensity, stress, anxiety, and selflessness. Yet Paul chose to remember the one who made him just as he was. He fixed his gaze heavenward and was satisfied; he was content there.
My prayer today is that you will be filled with contentment and cling to the truth that you can make it through anything in the one who made you who you are.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” (Ps. 23:1 NIV)