Monday, April 30, 2012

On Contentment

Fact:  I have a difficult time being content with where I am in life.

This special needs world that I am navigating has the capability to bring great joy, as I have expressed many times.  If I am being honest, though, there is a side to this world that I try my best not to express.

Lack of satisfaction.  Feeling that something is lacking or missing.  Envy.

Yesterday's message at church hit me right between the eyes.  In discussing the things that love is not, our pastor shared with us how we could avoid these things.

4 Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  {1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV}

The first point he made was that in order to avoid these pitfalls, we must be at a place where we can be content - just where we are at.  With what we have.  With the circumstances we are in.  When this point was further broken down, so was I.  It should not have come as a surprise.  And it didn't.  Not really.

I go throughout my days with a routine.  There's a rhythm to how my day flows.  It's unique to our circumstances having a child with special needs.  She's not just "special needs" - she's also medically fragile.  With that comes a lot of baggage - literally.  Peyton's room is probably better medically equipped than actual medical facilities in impoverished areas of the world.  What does this mean?

We can't travel.  Not easily.  Not as a family.
It breaks me up inside when I hear someone talking about all the vacations they have planned this summer and there's not one single overnight getaway on my horizon.  Not a one.  My husband will be taking Moira to Texas for a week this summer, but Peyton and I will stay home.  Why?  Peyton cannot easily travel.  There is too much baggage to take.  What if she got sick en route to our destination?  Or while we were away?  She likely wouldn't handle a long car ride well nowadays - not like she used to.  Flying is out of the question - she requires oxygen and you cannot bring oxygen tanks on a plane.  If we loaded all her gear in our vehicle, there wouldn't be any room for our bags or even us to get into it!  So there are no family vacations to be had.  It stirs up discontentment in my heart.

Ron and I can't get away for a weekend.  Not easily.  And a date night??
It took an act of congress to be able to go out on a date for our anniversary yesterday.  The nursing schedule we requested for the day couldn't be worked out with the nurse.  It took a lot of finagling, but we somehow managed, outside of the nursing schedule, to get the time we needed.  You see, with our family, there's no calling up the neighborhood teenager to come over and babysit.  It doesn't work that way.  It can't.  Not for us.  So, if it is this difficult to get out for an evening, imagine how much more difficult it would be to actually get away.  This stirs up discontentment in my heart.

Then there are the financial woes.
I'm constantly comparing myself - in my own mind - to every other person I see.  I see all these wonderful ladies at church who are so well put together.  And then there's me in my several-year-old clothes with shoes that I pulled out of a closet that don't even work with what I'm wearing, but I wear them because there's no alternative.  I'm constantly feeling like the biggest frump on the planet.  And it's not just clothes.  It's other things that require any amount of money - even those dream dates or getaways.  Why?  Because I'm constantly engaged in a war in my own mind - over envy.  My own insecurities have me battling this constantly and it stirs up discontentment in my heart.

Other families.
Oh, this is a really tough one for me sometimes.  It is so difficult at times when I see "normal" families out and about doing normal things and seeing their normal kids playing together.  There's sometimes a pang of jealousy that hits.  I'll never get to see my girls play together or really interact with each other.  There's never going to be soccer, dance, swim team, or any team for Peyton.  When I think of the hurdles we have to jump over just to manage for us to do something while leaving Peyton in the care of a nurse, it boggles my mind.  Why can't it be easy for once?  It would be so nice to pick up and hit the beach as a family this summer, but we can't.  Maybe 3 of the 4 of us can, but not all of us.  Yet so many around us are already doing just that.  This, too, stirs up discontentment in my heart.

This discontentment is the very reason why began writing my weekly Thankful Thursdays posts.  I know that God has placed so many things in my life for which I should be - and AM - grateful.  Being content is something I really struggle with.  It is something I pray about.  It is this discontent feeling I have in myself that is probably the number one thing about myself I would change if I could just flip a switch and make it disappear.

A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy like a cancer in the bones. {Proverbs 14:30, NLT}

I know that there is much goodness in my life.  I see it all the time in my life.  I see the kindness and the goodness.  I see the abundant blessings in my life that are a direct result of having Peyton in it!  I want to fix my thoughts on all of those good things constantly so that I might experience the joy and contentment in my life that God wants me to have.  He doesn't want me comparing what I don't have or what I can't have with what the Joneses have.  He wants me to be completely fulfilled right where I am right now.

That is my prayer for myself - that I might come to this fullness of joy in my life rather than be weighted down by the discontentment that is of my own making.

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