Towards the end of my walk sans Labrador and with instruction in my ears,
I took the trail instead of the cul de sac.
I gave up one thing already, an obligation accepted because someone thought I’d be good at its demands.
I didn’t paint a pretty or pitiful reason why I’d be quitting, simply said not for me anymore. Here’s what I accomplished, it was small, happy I could help meet a need. Now, you’ll need to find someone else.
I was truthful, confident in my choice of no.
Done. Accepted promptly and the reply was with gratitude.
I’d waited a month to tell them, Lord knows why.
Podcast almost done, one about the secret to contentment.
The voice in my ears started with a story of seasons in our lives when we’re so focused on the attainment of something to complete us, striving towards what we decide will be satisfying and then realizing why on earth did I push so stubbornly and steady towards what I know now didn’t shine so brightly after all.
Did that, done, what now, what next?
What can I do that might finally feel well done?
I’ve heard it before. The secret to a full life is learning to live in the moment, to be satisfied where you’re standing, to be content no matter the circumstances.
I listened as the podcast voice reminded of Paul’s teaching to those in Corinth and in Philippi.
His life, the fodder of many a memory verse, he learned to be content.
He learned. He learned through his mistakes. He paid attention to his times better, not worse.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:11-13 ESV
I approached the place where the anonymous dog barks incessantly, longing to know the footfall on the trail encroaching on his property.
I barely hear it; yet, I know he’s growling, struggling to break down the fence. I know he’ll keep barking, following me til I’m far from his fence.
I don’t hear him the same. The words in my ear, wisdom and better.
I turned just in time to see the way the sun was laying down its shadow on the open field, deciding it was good for me to walk this way today.
The right thing to choose long walk with a chance of a storm over a crosstown drive for a night of boot camp with the trainer.
It was good that I paid attention and I chose the other.
Later, I sent an email, informing an editor that June would be my last monthly contribution, explained to her I was trying to free up some space so that I could hear God’s plan more clearly, trying to make sure my focus is His.
Many will miss my column, the sweet ladies will wonder why. They’d grown accustomed to anticipating my picture in the paper and found it somehow celebrity like.
I realized I did too.
So, the secret to contentment is less me more Jesus.
Less believing that achievement and recognition will equal satisfaction. More realization of the thing that feeds my soul and enlightens my mind.
More quiet, being content no matter the notice of others, knowing so much more surely and unending I’m noticed by God.
Contentment, I’m reminded does not come naturally. It’s something we come back to because we remember how it feels.
We remember to be satisfied in so very little of what we say, do, aspire towards or even are recognized for.
We learn it’s not about us and we stay as surely as this crazy world allows in that place where the light came in, the place where God was illumined quite beautifully and clearly.
We give up being responsible for creating it.
We stop striving, cease controlling and we shield our ears from critical, chaotic or demanding requests like the bark of angry dog.
We learn to hear,
to fix our focus, the secret to being content, our choosing.
I’m prompted by the Five Minute Friday word, “Secret” and I always hope I can stop at five minutes, but never do: full disclosure.
Still I couldn’t help but think of contentment and the secret to keeping it.