Guest Blog and Photos by Jay Jennings
Seasons are changing. Excitement and joy fill the air. Holidays are coming, brimming with memories, anticipation and wonder. This is the time of year for seeking the purpose. When we are intentional about recognizing things to be thankful for. We think about Jesus coming to earth, and the melodies that fill the season.
But, interestingly enough, the airways are also flooded with complaints about the weather and the dreadful winter coming. Complaints about how much there is to do. And, sometimes my heart is overwhelmed with sadness and frustration at all the complaining. Even in the midst of such a beautiful, humbling, and exhilarating season – we find things to complain about.
Which reminds me of how we sometimes approach seasons in our lives.
Let me be real here. For a long time I missed out on my life, because it felt like my life was on hold – once I had a boyfriend or husband, then my life would start. Most of my friends were getting married, and then starting to have kids… and my life was not turning out the way I always thought it would, and it was not following the “norm.”
Because of the expectation for early marriage in the church, so many of my friends being married, people feeling the need to comment on my singleness, and because sometimes I am treated as if I’m not an adult… the fact that I am still single can feel like I’ve done something wrong, or that there’s something wrong with me.
The problem is that dwelling on those things only feeds discontentment. They feed bitterness. They make me question God. They make me question my own judgment and vision. They make me question the value of the work I’m doing. They make me forget all the things I DO have. They make me forget that this is a season, and that every season has pros and cons.
So, for a long time I focused on those things and went on just waiting until I had someone to do life with. Forgetting the truth that a man cannot complete me. Just like a bigger house, or more money, or a different job, or more friends, [insert anything you want here] …none of those things can complete us or make us truly content.
Just look at Hollywood, the music industry, or professional sports. All the time we see stars taking their own lives. Struggling with addictions. Being arrested. It’s easy to think, “Really? They have everything.” But, a lot of them don’t have Jesus. And, while our situations are very different from theirs, the truth remains that if we don’t have Jesus, if we can’t find contentment in Him, nothing in this world will satisfy. People do not complete us. Things do not complete us.
If I cannot be content without a man, I will never be content with one.
Contentment is not about what you have. It’s about what you see.
No matter what your situation in life, there is always opportunity to want for something else. Those who are married with kids will talk about missing the days when they could go and do whatever they wanted. Those who are married can wish they had kids. Those who are not married can wish they were. I have a friend who did not get married until she was in her mid-thirties and had a baby shortly after that. One day she was saying how there are times when she’s cranky and frustrated with her husband or with the season that she’s in – and then she thinks to herself, “Really?? You waited 35 years for this! This is what you wanted!” That conversation was both comforting and convicting to me.
So often I look at the things that I don’t have, or the things that I think will come in the next season of my life, or the things that I think will make me happy…the things I just have to have. But, really, if we focus on the things we don’t have, we miss the things we do have. And if we focus on the next season, we miss the one we’re in.
In the Bible Paul talks about learning to be content in whatever state he was in. I think of all people, Paul had some seasons to be upset with. He went without a lot of things. He suffered. A lot. But, he found value in being content. He knew who he was living for. He understood the purpose. No matter where you are or what your life looks like–look for the joys. Look for the ways you can take advantage of the situation. The things you have to be thankful for. The ways you can bless others through it. Look for Jesus in it.
Winter is coming upon us, and for some people it can be hard to find the good in it. In the middle of winter, it’s easy to see all the things that are great about summer, and long for the sun and the heat and the green. But, in the cold, grey of winter, it’s easy to forget that sometimes the summer is too hot (or humid) and sometimes it rains and sometimes the mosquitoes are really bad. And, in those times of summer, it’s easy to complain and long for the next season of cool crisp air.
What if, during the winter, we looked for the things that we have to be thankful for? Like the fact that we have warm places to live. What if we looked for the things that are beautiful? Like the way snow sparkles when the sun hits it. Or how shadows and light dance as the wind blows through branches. What about the benefits? Like the fact that the freezing cold is killing off excess bugs so the summer won’t be so full of them. Killing off the old so that the spring can be full of new and beautiful life.
Trust me. I get that it can be hard, when it’s freezing and the sun hasn’t been out for days, to see the joys and the meaning behind it. Just as in life – in some seasons, it can be hard to see the beauty. It’s hard to focus on the meaning behind it, even if I know it’s working something in me or for me. But, it’s so important to learn to be content in whatever season you’re in. To consciously recognize that while a season may be hard or less than ideal – or maybe just simply not what you thought it would be – that even in those times there is much to be found, much to be thankful for, and much to be content with.
Content doesn’t necessarily mean comfortable. Contentment comes in knowing that you are where you are supposed to be, and that He is with you. That He is in it.
This is a season in my life that doesn’t look very much like I thought it would. It doesn’t look like so many other people I know. But, just because it’s not what I thought it would be, doesn’t mean it’s not the best it could be. I am confident that I am where I’m supposed to be. I’m confident that God has everything under control. And, though it’s not always easy, I am content.
There are so many things in this season to be thankful for if I’ll only recognize them. There are joys and blessings and purposes for every season of our lives. So, I invite you to join me in this. In the midst of each season, seek the purpose, whether mountaintop or valley, recognize Jesus walking with you. Look for joy. Find beauty. And, rest in His grace knowing that when He is there, you have everything you need.