author ● sojourner ● mother artist

author ● sojourner ● mother artist

Control & Contentment in Pursuit of Beauty

I think when it comes down to it, seeing and savoring our lives as beautiful, is less of discovering hazy lit corners of our day to Instagram and more of a quiet contentedness.

{I’m still thinking this all through and noticing the 101 tangents that could be taken, so bear with me.}

But when I am frustrated by how my day is going, like this morning when my two-year-old woke up the sleeping baby who’d hardly slept the night before. I wasn’t the happiest of mommas. I could feel the tailspin.

I even told my husband as he was leaving for work that today was going to be a horrible day. Soon after he left, and before my lid boiled off, I remembered something I say regularly to my kids,

“Your brother isn’t making you angry,

you are choosing to be angry.”

My situation wasn’t ideal, a sleep-deprived momma and baby never is. My two-year-old knows it’s against house rules to open the door to his baby sister’s room (closed door = sleeping). But those two ingredients do not force me to act and speak in bitter, angry frustration.

I am in charge of how I respond. No matter the outside stimuli I can still control my reaction. It’s not always easy. (Seriously, it’s rarely easy.)

But withholding love, respect, and grace never brought anyone closer to Christ. Even if my children disobey or someone cuts me off, even if someone degrades my character or inconveniences me I can control my response. (Whether or not I will is another thing.) We know because of Jesus we can be tempted to sin, yet still refrain. Sin is always a choice.

[Just an aside: It is good to feel emotions. To be sad, happy, frustrated, angry, depressed, etc. I think we all too often err when we too quickly brush past our emotions. They are more often than not indicators of something deeper. It’s good to question why we’re feeling the way we are and to let ourselves feel–mourn, rejoice, be melancholy. But our emotions are not license to sin. I see them as a way to examine ourselves and dig deeper into who we are and how we need Jesus.]

Okay. Back on track…

How do these less than ideal circumstances and raging emotions connect to beauty?

There’s two places my mind goes:

1. Contentment. (I’ll come back to this later.)

2. I’m the boss of me.

I'm  the boss of me. How I react to things out side of my control says much of what I believe. If I preach grace and say Jesus’ kindness leads us to repent, but blast my kids (or anyone else for that matter) when they don’t live up to my spoken (or unspoken) expectations, I’m sending them two separate messages:

1. God is loving and gracious and desires to show us mercy.

2. If you do wrong in my house or to me there is no grace. The standard is perfection every time.

I may not mean that but how I respond with my words and actions can easily convey that message. I’m wrong but wish to God I was right, so I’m going to belittle your position. Or you have a different opinion, so I’m going to tell you how mine is “biblical.” If you don’t serve me or others to my standard I’m going to call you selfish and lazy…at least in my head. And on and on…

{we can be such a bunch of ugly sinners, can’t we? thanks be to Jesus for freely giving us grace!}

You know what I notice in all these responses? They take all the responsibility of my response off of me and place it on my “offender.” Which brings me back to #1.

Contentment

When I choose to respond

I am trusting that God’s ways are better. That I have been forgiven much and will extend the same forgiveness God showed me. I am walking in faith when I choose to walk on the truth of the Scriptures, I am effectually saying,

  • I consider another better than myself
  • I aim to walk in a manner of humility, gentleness, and patience “bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2)
  • I am letting go of all bitterness (Eph. 4:31)
  • I will choose to be tenderhearted and forgiving as God has forgiven me (Eph. 4:32)
  • I will respond without grumbling (Php. 2:14)
  • I desire to seek the interests of Christ (Php. 2:21)
  • I desire my speech to always be gracious (Col. 4:6).

When I do this I am letting go of the reins, letting go of my assumptions and false impression of control and choosing to walk the path of light and life with Jesus. This is what it is to be content.

And it’s here in this contentment where we can really trust Jesus that our lives open up to the endless possibilities of beauty.

Is this the secret Paul spoke of to be content? Releasing control?

May it so be with us.

What do you think? What’s contentment mean to you?

Do you see control as the antithesis to contentment?

 

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