I am often restless. Lately, I have been feeling like I want to run away, to choose a new life, rather than the one that I am currently living in Africa. When Travis went for a bike ride yesterday, I joked that I may not be here when he gets back. I think he was afraid it was not a joke.
The enemy has been whispering lies. That I don’t have any friends. That I am not a good mom, wife, neighbor. That I am going to wither up and die here and no one will even care or miss me. And not having much sleep or alone time makes those lies sound louder and more believable. However, I am hearing truth from the Word and from my husband to identify what is falsehood and what I can rightly believe.
And I am reading. In Voices of the Faithful this month’s reading focus around the theme of contentment. While the editor emphasizes mainly contentment with material wealth, I am struck by my lack of contentment in the areas of occupation, friendship intimacy, beauty, and appreciation. Of course, the part of scripture that is always quoted about contentment is when Paul speaks to the Philippians when he says, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty of in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
And I am struck by a word that I never noticed before: learned. Paul learned it. He did not receive it once he became an apostle. Even Paul whom we admire, quote, base missions practices upon had to learn contentment. And I did not somehow become completely content the moment I became a missionary, like some superhero power that allows me to live in the midst of poverty, away from my family, and without much community and feel great about every minute of every day here. I am to learn contentment. In Voices it is noted that the original Greek word for learned comes from the same word as disciple. So, Christ is using my life’s circumstances to disciple me in the art of contentment. And part of that discipling is my increasing dependence on and discovering of the presence and power of Christ in each circumstance I face.
So, for now, I will sit in this place of learning contentment, to recognize and ask for Christ’s presence and His power to be with me, to help me love others, to guide me in decisions, to disciple me so that I can rest in Him. And slowly by slowly, He can teach me that “secret of being content in any and every situation” and hopefully, I will be a good learner.