“I wish I could be any age higher than 6.” I heard that statement exclaimed in such complete frustration by my sweet boy as he sat in our kitchen mulling over his pancakes. It caught me by such surprise. It’s not that I haven’t heard similar statements from my kids before, but for some reason, today it stopped me in my tracks. I guess that’s what happens when we tune our ears to hearing God’s voice regarding a certain subject. Over the last 6 weeks, I have heard Jesus slowly speak to me about discontentment. In a similar fashion to how you never see yellow cars until you buy a yellow car, then suddenly they’re EVERYWHERE. I see this topic everywhere, hear it everywhere, and am learning more about what it really means to be content.
Why would my precious 6-year-old boy with a darling life wish away these amazing early childhood years? Everything is enchanting, every turn is an adventure, every day is a new opportunity to build, run, play and learn. What seems like ungratefulness is actually so clear to me a symptom of the fall of humanity in the garden of Eden. He just can’t help it. There is something about our flesh that wars with contentment. Why would Eve want the one thing she couldn’t have? Why do we feel like we are less-than, don’t have enough, earn enough, look good enough, work out enough? So much of this feeling is directly related to our unrealistic, over-commercialized, desensitized, addictive social media platforms to which I say ENOUGH. Also, speaking of unrealistic and over-commercialized, I bought a cactus today. An actual, harmful prickly-pear cactus that you used to only see in cartoons depicting the desert. We can all thank Joanna Gaines for giving the cactus the same kind of new life that the cauliflower got in 2018. I actually already have a splinter. Winning.
Enter the star of 2020: Covid-19. As we have been forced to stay at home during the weirdest season of all time, it is amazing how much has been revealed to me about my husband’s own character. (He is actually amazing btw. I’m the crazy one.) I have been deeply embarrassed inspired by how well I can handle lack-of-control. Thankfully, as long as I’m alive, He’s still working on me. Side note… what has been REALLY amazing is how many plates of food my 3 kids – especially the two boys (ages 4 & 6) can consume in one day. Where do they put it? What is happening with their metabolism? How can I get some of it? Why are they not 400 pounds? Who decided to have all these kids? What are their names again? I have many questions and no answers.
Back on topic - over the last 6-8 weeks, I have embraced contentment with such rigor and enthusiasm, I daily wonder why it has taken me 35 years to enter a frame of mind like this one. SURELY I’ve never nudged away His whisper towards contentment before now? Nope, not me. Surely, I have NEVER wallowed in self-pity when dreaming of all of the things I didn’t have or couldn’t accomplish. What shameful behavior! Thankfully, in this personal revival of happy, I have allowed myself to feel such liberty and peace with who I am and where He is leading. Self-awareness is everything.
For years I have walked around my spacious 1950’s ranch style home on a corner lot and grumbled about wanting to rip out countertops and refinish floors. Update, renovate, tear out, improve. Not good enough. No contentment. More! Better! Oh, hey quarantine. Guess we’re endlessly stuck in this un-done home. How sad.
Then almost overnight, it just so happened that the frenzied race out the door every morning was swapped for a slow(er) paced morning with 2 cups of not re-heated coffee. Our mornings have evolved into a beautiful space of time on the back porch, brightly lit by the 7 am sunshine. For all of you who have children that sleep past dawn, bless you. For reasons I will never understand, there is a class of us who were gifted with early risers. Wailing and gnashing of teeth by myself and/or my husband over this issue may still occur every now and then.
Suddenly, the non-modern kitchen that I’ve griped about has been a refuge that has churned out 3 meals and 1,000 snacks a day for my healthy family of 5. Hello, contentment. Hello beautiful old backsplash tile. The stunning walls of our home have watched us grow and stretch and cry and laugh. The imperfect original hardwood floors have held tottering first steps, piles of legos, out-of-control tantrums and unforgettable prayer moments with my husband.
This refuge, this sanctuary, this life that I get to live is so much more than I deserve. My home, my husband, my children, my tribe of friends, my church family are all incredible things in my life that I could never merit or earn on my own. He’s just so good. This is what contentment feels like. I’ve never known it so well, by my goodness, it’s the best introduction I’ve made in a long time.
Is my life perfect? No.
Do we have problems? Yes.
Do I still want to remodel my kitchen? Yes.
Is that wrong? No.
There is nothing wrong with goals, drive, ambition, or improvement. Where would we be without the entrepreneurial spirit? We are church planters and entrepreneurs at heart. We love to build vision and execute plans. I love to design a plan and see something come to life with hard work. I’m not saying that we should just be satisfied with our lot in life and not pursue dreams. I have simply decided that I while I have planted seeds into the ground, I will not curse the dirt because I can’t see the sprout. As long as I am continually seeking after what God has called me to, I will remain content and joyful throughout the process. We will not achieve perfection until we are in our glorified bodies and present with Christ. Let us be content to serve Him, trust Him and thank Him in every single thing.
I would love to invite you to join me in embracing contentment. That’s my only option. It’s not something that you can be pushed into. I can’t make you love your life, or your home or your body. You are the only one who can love what God has given you. I can only hope that you will feel the pull to ask Him to speak to your heart, slowly and steadily. He will. He’s just so good.
Juli Martinez and her husband David are church-planters in the beautiful city of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where they have lived for the past 8 years. She is the Executive Director of Hope Community Collective, a non-profit organization that serves the southern region of Mississippi. While she is incredibly passionate about gardening and eating carbs, her greatest position in life is that of mama to her three blessings, Luca (6), Louie (4) and Lucía (1).