I have a project management background, so for me "New Year’s Resolutions" look less like a list of things I’d like to do and more like a wildly detailed mind-map of "Project New Year". And 20 days in, it’s easy to already feel overwhelmed with the ways I’m not keeping up with my tasks so that I can accomplish every single one of those very important goals. Of course, I’m learning that if my planning is going to be more successful and realistic, it should probably include things like: change diapers, wash laundry continuously for 4 days because of the stomach flu, cook . . . over and over and over again. But what fun is it to look at a New Year’s plan like that?
And so this year, while I did indulge in a little goal-setting and mind-mapping, it was refreshing to think not just about what I wanted to accomplish, but who I wanted to be - to prayerfully seek out a word or phrase that would define the feel of my year, encompassing the daily mundane and the hoped-for extraordinary.
Contentment. The word resonated with me right away. To have a year -- a life -- marked by a contented spirit, one that is filled to the brim with sweet peace, unshakable joy, and steadfast hope. That sounds like the exact place my soul needs to be directed. This year, I’m seeking to cultivate contentment in my heart.
At first, I was pretty sure that it would involve something like signing off of Facebook to avoid comparison, or learning to say no to certain things, or sticking with an in-depth Bible reading plan. Those are all good things that I do need to do, but not why God was directing my heart to the word contentment.
I’ve been convicted that contentment can be lacking in my day to day reality because I’m forgetting the basics . .
First, I need to daily remind myself of the source of contentment: Christ and the beautiful gospel story. One of the ways I’m doing that this year is to have a “who I am in Christ” list in a prominent place, a step-by-step reminder of who God is, what he’s done, and how his grace has transformed me.
Second, I’m cultivating contentment by remembering the prize, the goal. Not for this year, but for this lifetime: to know Christ. As I’ve watched people who live lives of contentment, they have a deep hunger and longing to know Christ, to press on in the faith until they are with him face to face. I’m praying for that kind of hunger for Him that leads to a life of contentment in the here and now.
The past few years have felt challenging and, to be honest, I think the next few might continue at about the same pace. But I hope that this year will feel, and even look, very different, as I cultivate contentment by declaring: my soul is satisfied in God alone!
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