I haven’t told my daughters just quite yet, but it took me a long time to grow up, even after I said my vows.
I was a young college girl, with my head in a book and my heart flaming wild for a young builder with muscles poking through his work shirts. And when I said “I do,” I thought happiness was at the end of the aisle and life would happen happily ever after.
I had a lot of growing up to do.
And then we had a passel of kids, moved away from our hometown, stood by the graveside of our babies, raised a few beautiful kids and I still felt like a child at the end of a day. Wondering when I would ever get the memo that happiness would happen tomorrow.
Oh, I loved my life. I loved my kids. I loved my builder.
But, happiness seemed allusive. I realized that I needed to grow up and out of living in a perpetual place of wondering when life might get easier, simpler or just plain more. More of something.
Something on the other side of a bad mood, or a hard year. That might make life easier. A bigger place to raise our brood, or just a little free time from the kiddos. This would be the ticket to a heart set right and bent on happy.
If we could just hold out until we had more work, or a bigger place to rent for all of those long 13 years of fixing up every place we called home and saved to build. Then, maybe then, I would feel the settling in my soul.
Homeschooling felt like a fight, raising babies in a world lacking of generational influence, and fighting to find my body under the disguise of perpetual pregnancy and postpartum reeked havoc on my emotional balance.
I fought the good fight with tears and wanting more than this beautiful life we had. I wanted to feel settled. To not have to work until the sun dropped off the horizon at night and to be able to say yes to something “more” fun or “more” relaxing.
What did I really want? I didn’t even know any more. But the list had added up and I couldn’t figure out when it had begun.
Some call it wanderlust, reality, entitlement, deserving more or maybe it’s a natural thing…to feel that way.
I look back on it now and call it for what it was.
Yea, sure. We made the best of every place we set down our roots and the builder and I re-crafted the very essence of the structure and the weeds until they flourished. We made new friends in the narrow halls of Bible College married students housing, with one baby and another on the way, in a small concrete, one bedroom apartment.
Sure. We worked hard. The builder never stops providing and his spirit kept on giving.
The sliver of discontentment would fester and ooze stress into our lives and pull our eyes from our focus…until we could feel it again.
Is it human nature to think that if we can just get through “this season,” and press on? Thinking the next part of the journey will be better, less stress-filled and more rewarding?
If we work hard now, we won’t have to later?
That some people get all the breaks and our turn may never come?
When will we have “our” turn on the happiness wheel?
Why do we have to go without when it seems everyone else is ok?
I just need a ‘well deserved” weekly break.
And so on. It is the mental check-list that “we’ do to ourselves that we think is affirming our position or our lack thereof.
The more we speak it, think it, hear ourselves say it.. the more we become discontented with what we do have.
Don’t get me wrong. We didn’t have a lot of material possessions, but we had the saving work of Jesus in our lives that was redeeming all of my negativity and immaturity. We had each other, God’s unfailing promises.
We had more than we needed. It wasn’t about things or having enough.
It had become about everything we DID have, not being able to fill the character flaw that had dug a bottomless hole.
It was an emotion. Not a need that we had. We never wanted for anything.
We had it all. But, there was a time I missed this and vying for my hard working husband’s time, his attention and using my words to compare, took its toll on the cord of love that held us together.
Discontentment is martyrdom. It is nagging. Complaining. Feeling sorry for ourselves and the ugliest of them all.
God took me by the bootstraps and pulled me up and out of that pit. He gave me a good dose of “real need” and allowed me this:
I saw OTHERS more than myself.
I needed GOD more than any thing else.
I CALLED on HIM and stopped complaining to my husband.
I CHOSE to embrace the little and not even care about the big.
I HEARD him louder and clearer and understood what it meant to be last.
I APOLOGIZED for my spirit of negativity.
I APPRECIATED every little thing.
I DIDN”T see other’s kindness as something to scrutinize.
And today, I am thankful for every little thing I call hard, less, small, uncomfortable and stretching. Because I have seen the deep chasm of conflict it will cause.
I had a lot of growing up to do then and today.
But, that is how life is. We might regret the way we did something, but we shouldn’t get stuck there.
Don’t get stuck in this cycle.
The secret to a happy life?
Find it right where you are. Embrace the moments and seasons God gives you.
Work hard, fill your mind with the God’s truth, your heart with His love and your life with gratefulness.
Embrace your life and keep moving forward.
The best kept secret to a happy life is to live this message out loud.