Finding Contentment in the Ordinary
Let me tell you about my life right now—busy and exhausted is an understatement. Over the past 2 years, these are the things that have happened.
I have been hospitalized twice, my nephew passed away, my children have experienced life changing issues (changing schools, leaving family/friends again), we’ve moved 3 times, they have thought that their fathers were coming home from prison (and they didn’t) they’ve been bullied at school, the dynamics of how we operate as a family has changed, and they’ve learned to grow up pretty quickly—and all of this has happened while they were learning that Jesus is the center of everything when they honestly had never heard much about Him for the first 9 years of their lives (not in a real way that they could understand).
For about a year and a half we have waken up at around 5 am to leave the house by 6 am to make the 30 minute drive to drop them off at school (the school that I drive them to because it has better class sizes and better test scores), then they have waited outside of the school in 30 degree (and/or below) weather where I guiltily have had to leave them. Then we moved so the drive was 40 minutes in the morning and almost an hour on the way home. They fall asleep on the way to school and they fall asleep on the way home.
I have tried to fit exercising/meal planning/prepping into this life of mine, and there have been weeks where it has worked and weeks where it hasn’t. The constant tug of time and money is never-ending and although in a perfect world, I would choose time with my children over money, those children have needs that cost money. So usually instead of meal prepping, I am working. Instead of exercising I am sitting with the kids while they do their homework and listening instead of doing the laundry. During the time where I am usually writing (when possible) I am cleaning my own room, living room, etc.) In other words, after our full days, I do not sit down usually until about 10 pm.
There have been days where my kids have literally eaten cereal for dinner multiple nights in a row or I have went into Walmart to grab a few items simply because I have been too tired to grocery shop. Most of the times these cereal nights outweigh the nights where I cook a fresh meal from scratch. In the midst of this there have been school dances, hair appointments, barber shop visits, doctor visits, dentist visits, parent/teacher conferences, church functions, birthdays, family events, crying kids, tired kids, tired momma, mailbox full of bills, praying, crying, working 3 jobs, lots of coffee, lots of driving, wondering if I was going or coming and little to no true rest. And although all of this is normal, it is absolutely exhausting for one person.
A few days ago, I told a dear friend of mine, “I believe that I am boycotting cleaning up. I almost feel like if I wake up to this life of ordinary tasks one more day, I am going to lose my mind?”
Can anyone relate to feeling this way?
Like, I am over life tasks -laundry, cooking, cleaning, driving, working, anything that does not include a beach, a book and silence.
Are you with me on this boat?
In the midst of all of this –there was still healing happening in my life. I was becoming more stable in keeping my word, following through with tasks, listening to my kids, hugging my kids, getting them things that they didn’t have to have -but wanted, giving them grace to make mistakes just like I was. I was showing up and serving in church consistently, being more involved in my children’s school work, taking moments to enjoy my home (junky and all), cooking with my children, talking to them about life and how hard it was , but also showing them God in the middle of our busyness, sharing the miracles that he was performing right before our eyes, and reminding them of the answered prayers that we were seeing manifest in our lives.
I was also giving lots of grace and mercy to other people as well. Giving more hugs, sending more “hang in there” texts, asking if I could help them with anything. Life kind of happens like that sometimes.
Ever since I got out of the hospital in December, I just do not feel well consistently -I feel like I am constantly fighting some kind of ache.
To be honest -this just isn’t how I planned my life. I just knew that I was making choices that would propel me into my purpose and calling—like yesterday. I just knew that I would be working on the business plan that God gave me, or writing one of the 5 books that I have already outlined, volunteering at the shelters that I wanted to, marrying the husband that God gave me a desire for, taking all the trips on my bucket list, or even speaking to women about my journey and healing –all things that I knew I was capable of and knew God had called me to do. Instead I was working 3 jobs, tired, single, and barely making ends meet –still.
I figured these were some of the reasons for my –aches.
A few days ago, I remembered something: the Holy Spirit had said to me months ago: You have one directive –build your children up, love on them, spend time with them, discipline them, help them to heal. I will do my part.
…and suddenly I realized why the ordiniary tasks were important for our lives.
I used to read Phillipians 4:11-13 and think to myself who is Paul kidding? I am NOT content in this, it’s too much. In case you forgot, it says:
“not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. For I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Contentment can’t be learned on the mountain tops. Contentment can’t be learned within purpose and calling. It has to be learned before you reach you are trusted with much.
Let me be clear, I wasn’t discontent, I believe the words would be tired and bored, which can sometimes feel like discontent. I was very grateful for the miracles and provision that God had given us during this season. But I believe my boredom signaled that I was ready to move on to the next season in my life and step into new domain.
Really quickly though, I want to honor this season by sharing few things that helped me through it.
Rejoice in being obedient – Oftentimes when we are doing something that we deem not fun or enjoyable, we forget that if we are in obedience that God has strategically placed us in a position therefore, if we have no other reason to rejoice—obedience can always be celebrated. God honors us doing what he has instructed us to do. Which means when God told me to focus on my children and taking care of them in a different way, I was where he needed me to be, doing what he needed me to do.
Recall God’s faithfulness – Listen to me, think about the last hard thing you did. Didn’t it end at some point? This is recalling God’s faithfulness. I remember all the other times I was tired of doing something –but it ended. Whether through time or age, all the tasks that we are doing now, will one day end. Recall all the hard things that you don’t have to do anymore to motivate you throughout this time.
Recognize that development takes time – There really is no other way. If we could change the trajectory of our lives in one day—then there would be no need for God or experiences to shape us. Nothing is built overnight, especially nothing of value. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, know that you are indeed growing and that you will not always be where you are now.
Finally, I ask of you, just as I asked of myself: Could it be that the mundane tasks in our own eyes are creating stability in our worlds? Could it be that these things are teaching us something that we can not see? I still don’t want to do the laundry, but eventually I’ll get it done. I have 5 days of driving left until the end of the year (inserts praise break) and then I’ll get to rest a little bit. I still do not love the job or season that I am in right now, but I will do it to the best of my ability knowing that it is producing something within me that I cannot see, but is happening.
Here are my final words: I finally understand Paul. For over the past months I have been in want and I have had plenty and although it took a few times of want, when I have less – I don’t feel any “less” loved by Christ. I know how to survive when we have extra and I know how to survive when we are waiting on something from God. I’ve eaten my favorite meals and I’ve had to eat what was available. For with Christ I have been able to endure it all.