Do you ever have trouble being content in all circumstances? It is our human nature to grumble, to complain. I see it daily in the retail setting. There are always people complaining. And then there are the people who have to find something to complain about out of nothing. I live in the
. I moved here partially because of the more
temperate winters compared to the prairies.
However, in lieu of the bitter winter there is rain. Day after day of drizzly weather and when the
rain lets up the clouds often remain, continuing to blot out our beautiful
mountain skyline. I get it, the gray can
be depressing. What I don’t get is the
response to breaks of sunny days in winter.
The complaints simply turn from sob stories of the incessant rain to
frigid complaints of the cold which accompanies the sunny winter days. And then on top of this all, the response of
us who work with these complaining customers is to grumble amongst ourselves
about Mr so and so who was completely unreasonable, and Mrs. so and so who just
doesn’t get it, etc. etc. Fraser Valley
I remember when I first entered my field of work and I was astonished by the private remarks about customers. Then slowly, unnoticeably, it became part of the job, simply part of the retail culture. Indeed, there are some people who are completely irrational. Indeed, some people unjustifiably make my work place a huge headache. But, it was upon returning from maternity leave that I was really struck by the extent of complaints to counter complaints. And while I consciously try now to fight against it; it is a fight.
Content when people make my job hard? Not easily. Content when life feels exhausting? Please tell me how. Content when everything goes awry? That’s ridiculous.
Or is it?
I have been struggling since I’ve gone back to work with exhaustion. Life is hard. Sure I chose to go back to work, but to be honest, the alternative of continuing to stay home with my daughter full-time did not thrill me. I began to feel like I was left with a lose-lose situation. Stay at home full time and pull my hair out. Go back to work and deal with feeling wiped. I felt that what I used to hold as such an incredible blessing (the opportunity to have 2 university degrees and an incredible career) turned to a curse. If I were my mother living in her generation’s time I would simply put my career on hold for a decade and then consider returning to work. If I were my grandmother living in her generation I would have been lucky to have received my Grade 8 and there would be no question that my work was to be within my home. But for me, for my generation, women with careers return to them. Working mom is normal. And as I mentioned I wanted to return to work, and in the wake of life’s subsequent busyness my head started to spin. I finally came to terms with the concept that life is hard.
Can I be content in that difficulty? I simply wanted to surmise that life should be easy for the wise and so maybe I simply wasn’t making the best decisions. My generation thinks that life should be easy. I found myself thinking that in fact, my Christian walk should be accommodating too. What I mean, is that I felt God should create spaces amongst the craziness for me to spend with Him. I’ve been trying to create those times in the morning, but as my daughter rises early there is only so much earlier that I can get up. So I asked, what do I do on those days? I had a taunting tone to God. What am I supposed to do then God? If I choose to get up an hour before my daughter gets up, but that day she wakes an hour early and its go, go, go with her until I leave for work and then return home exhausted at my bedtime. What then God, huh? It’s like I felt in moments like that God should make my daughter sleep longer. This came up in our small group one evening when I was sharing. Someone mentioned, what about those in Nazi concentration camps? They were literally worked to the bone with no concessions. How were they to spend time with God? And so I saw it again: I expect life to be easy. It is not; but God remains present in every moment I invite Him to be there. How exactly does this work?
Last week work was absolutely chaotic. My boss was on holidays and his fill-ins were simply sub-par. Work was a disaster zone with the goal being to minimize confusion and not to make a mistake. In one of my morning times I took a few moments for silent prayer. In those moments God spoke. He said ‘peace’. Boy, I needed that. That week was anything but peaceful. My God always gives peace. Guiding me to peace, I was reminded of the verse in Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Peace. And you know what follows in Philippians 4? “I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation…For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” (vs 11-13)
Paul’s contentment in every situation is preceded by the very formula required for it. It’s laid out plain. I don’t need an easy life or need to think that I need an easy life. I need Christ Jesus’ peace. How do I get this peace? I pray, asking God for what I need and thanking Him for what He’s given.
Isn’t that simple?
Wouldn’t that be simply revolutionary in the moments of everyday life?
Ask. Thank. Receive peace from the very Creator of our universe.