The Bravery in Being Content

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A week ago a friend of mine posted this question on Facebook: If you were invited to do an actual TEDx talk, what would you speak on?

It’s not anything I’ve ever thought of before, although I do enjoy a good TEDx talk. I thought about it for less than a minute when my answer came to me, as clear as glass.

If I were invited to speak to an audience for TEDx, I’d speak on the sacred beauty in living an ordinary life.

A year ago, my answer would have been something reminiscent of chasing your dreams or not letting fear rule your choices. Those things are good, but so much has changed for me in the last year.

After I shared my answer, my friend replied with a request to prepare and record that talk. Although I probably won’t prepare an actual talk, because I’m not going to speak to an audience for TEDx, his reply got me thinking about what I’d actually say, and so I decided to write about it instead.

Having a heart rested in contentment is something I’ve fought against for probably my entire life. I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb ready for the next big thing. I hated being alone when I was a child, and I always wanted some form of entertainment to keep my mind going. I remember growing up, always asking my mom what we were going to do next, where we were going to go next, who I was going to get to play with next. She’s commented on it over the years, and I’d always brush it off, refusing to acknowledge that that’s the truth about me: I struggle with being ok with the moment that I’m living in. It wasn’t until Abram was born and started to grow into a full-fledged human being that I started to think about the things my mom has said and digest the validity of her words. She was right about me, and now I’m experiencing it with my own little one. He’s so much like me in this way and it’s heartbreaking. As he’s grown in age and likewise in his discontent, I’ve been forced to see my own heart; it’s been nothing short of revolting.

My discontent aided in my mission to constantly be on the move in my early twenties. It fanned the flame of the inability to stop moving or turn things off. After marrying Daniel and being rooted in one place, thanks to an unplanned pregnancy, no money in the bank account and the Sovereignty of God, my discontent evolved into a much less “adventurous” monster. It looked like comforts- food, shopping, television series- you’re everyday American favorites. I’d indulge heavily, thinking those would dull the constant sense of missing out on something but would end up leaving me in puddles of apathy and depression. I didn’t necessarily have a plan for what my life would look like before life came barreling through, so you’d think the discontent wouldn’t have been so bad.

I’ve lived permanently in Lake City, Florida for a few weeks short of five years now. You’d laugh if I told you how many times I’ve tried to get out of here, by day dream or by actual car. God knew exactly what he was doing when He decided it was time to change the rhythm of my heart. He’s done an awful lot of spirit work over these five years; I have several scribbled up journals and really deep friendships to show for it.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had on the phone with this friend of mine in 2008, on the balcony of my apartment in Boynton Beach, Florida. We talked of dreams and visions and what we wanted to do in the name of the gospel. At one point this friend paused in the middle of what he was saying and said, “Megan… we are going to be people that actually change the world. It terrifies me, but I can feel it.”

Here’s the thing about going on a mission to change the world: if you’re not seeking contentment in the process, you subtly exchange changing the world with conforming to it. The world we live in now is spinning at a rate in which we simply cannot keep up. If you live in a modern and affluential context, you are under the CONSTANT conscious and subconscious pressure to not “settle”, to never be satisfied. Our culture is set up in such a way that teaches our desires to be unappeasable.

If you wanna change the world, you need to be brave. And one of the bravest things you can do in today’s culture is to be content.

Being content starts with the universe. I know, I know… that sound’s weird, but let me explain what I mean.

There’s an Author to all of this, and that Author wrote into existence the universe. He thought it good for us to be a part of this infinite space and all that fills it, even though we’ve proven completely unworthy of that Author’s loyalty to the character that is humanity. We’ve got plenty of history to show for our depravity, and yet he’s not killed us off. He loves what He has created, and He’s gone through great lengths to make us His and His alone.

That is where contentment starts. If that bothers you, then wrestle with it. Seriously, push your sleeves up and really scrap it out, even if you think you’ll end up on skepticism’s team. Who knows what divine bruises you’ll leave with at the end of that fight, but I promise you, you’re in for more than one round.

I had to do it; I had to wrestle with the Author of the Universe, and in the process of losing, I won. Growing up, I thought that because I experienced salvation, I believed in all of God, but that wasn’t the case at all. In my mid twenties, I did not believe at all that God alone could satisfy me; that what He put His son through was so that my heart could rest with a peace that surpasses all earthly understanding.

I’ve never been so happy to lose, because my heart grows fonder everyday of my ordinary circumstances. What a gift- to see the sacredness in the slow growth of life, the beauty in waking up, knowing that today will probably be very similar to yesterday, and being completely pleased with that possibility. What a grace that God would give to bestow upon us the ability to let go of “making it happen”, inhaling in and exhaling out that grace with joy.

Most days, I get up and drink water, eat eggs and start some laundry. I pick things up, clean things off, type things out and drive places (usually for errands or play dates). I have the same conversations with my son everyday about being ok with not having everything he wants, why we do the things we do and forgiveness. In between those conversations are many questions about everything one could dream of, because he’s four years old and wants to know everything. I cook regular dinners and prepare songs for Sunday, week in and week out. At least once a week I’m heavily tempted to look at it all and wonder why I can’t have more, be somewhere else, do other things and live a different life. Sometimes I turn that temptation down immediately and sometimes I don’t, letting it inch closer to me as I indulge. But this year so far, God has been faithful to remind me of where contentment starts- His Authorship. He reminds me through nature, the scriptures and my community, the people that refuse to let me stray. They’ve seen the Megan with the heart that can have an insatiable appetite. I’m so thankful for my relationships.

And beyond that, he allows me to see what my contentment is doing- it’s showing my son what it looks like to be content, even if he doesn’t get it himself yet. It’s giving him an example of what commitment and endurance looks like, and even how to be in those things with joy.

So that’s what I’d say, if I could say anything in front of a group of people. If I ever do get to say that out loud, my hope is that those I’m saying it to won’t expect something way more exciting, because if that’s the case…. they’d be sorely disappointed.

Melissa Hawks on Prayer: The Angelic Toxic Waste Dump

Melissa Hawks on Prayer

Melissa Hawks has been a friend of mine for almost two years now. Our friendship spawned because of a crazy thing Jon Acuff decided to do called the Start Experiment (Now Dreamers and Builders), and has grown into a massive community today. I consider her one of my bests, even though we haven’t known each other for a long amount of time. She’s a woman I’ve shared stomach-hurting laughter and deep, grievous tears with. We have both been there for each other during our darkest of days, and have helped pull each other out of the pit. I’ve watched her grow deep and wide, as she’s watched me. Hopefully, this is the first of many guest posts from Melissa. I’ve noticed throughout our friendship that she’s pretty exceptional when it comes to prayer. She is always praying for others, for circumstances, for herself. I wanted her to share with us today about prayer, so that maybe some of that great habit she has will rub off on us. Without further adieu…


   I first learned how to pray when I was a seventeen year old freshman away at college. That may seem odd considering I grew up in a family where ministry was what you were born to rather than a life choice. I learned all about the technicalities of moaning and groaning and prayer journeys and prayer meetings and prostrating yourself before His face before I could walk. But I learned how to pray at the age of seventeen from a middle-aged professor named Jim Sleeva.

Sleeva is a legend amidst those who sat under his tutelage at the small Christian college I attended. I was never quite sure whether he liked or approved of me; he was hard to read. Back then I was a pretty great at following the rules, but beneath it all I knew the truth. A wild heart beat it’s irregular rhythm within my chest. There was a rumor that Sleeva had x-ray vision like Superman so I knew he could probably see my wild heart too. He reminded me of how I had always pictured Jesus. I couldn’t imagine that Jesus (or Sleeva, if he could see them) would approve of all my thoughts. But, I was pretty well versed in Scripture and I knew Jesus had made quite a name for himself by being nice to the sex workers and women caught in adultery, so I figured maybe at some point he (and Sleeva) might find it in their holy hearts to like me too.

Here’s what I learned from Sleev about praying:  you don’t have to be fancy. He never used grandiose words, or elaborate repetitive phrasings. He spoke exactly like he would speak to anyone else. He would close his eyes, get a giant ridiculous grin on his face and say, “Hey, Jesus. Thanks for these kids here and this beautiful sunny day you gave us to enjoy. You knew exactly what we needed after the last two weeks of storms and rain. Touch my friend Juan, who has the flu and heal his body. Show us how we can love You, each other, those we meet, better. You’re the coolest, Jesus. (because Sleeva was kind of a hippie) Amen. He would finish his prayer and you would think, “yeah. That dude knows Jesus.”

That’s when I learned how to pray.

The whole idea of “pray without ceasing” always seemed overwhelming and and a bit dramatic to me. Until I came to understand that my prayers are just me talking to God. About stuff. All the things. And that’s what I do. When I stopped trying to force my prayers to fit into a certain time frame of a half hour first thing in the morning or an hour before bed (yeah, that never happened), and I just began to start talking to God throughout the day whenever life happened, that’s when relationship formed. That’s when it became like breathing.

That sounds hard, right? Does it sound a little painful? It’s easy. It’s part of being mindful about how you are feeling and what you are thinking. If I notice a sunset or I’m so angry at something that has occurred. I acknowledge those feelings and turn them into a conversation with God. “Thank you for that glorious sunset, God” or “I’m so freakin’ pissed right now, God.” It’s a good habit to get into because it also makes me more in tune with His voice. When I am communicating with Him, I also take more time to listen.

Don’t self-edit your prayers. He’s God. He can handle the real you. I swear in my prayers, because sometimes I swear in real life. The first time I did this was right after I filed for divorce. I was in my car alone and the weight of it all was burying me. I couldn’t breathe; it was too much. I started to pour it all out and with it came a whole heap of language that I knew the community I was raised around wouldn’t have approved of. Between the “Oh, Jesus’s” and the “@#$&” my car was being turned into an angelic toxic waste dump. But He’s GOD. He can handle it. He can handle me. And I reverence Him enough to be real with Him. It doesn’t take away from the sacredness of our conversation, it adds validity to it. I am not hiding from Him.

The intimacy that comes with this kind of relationship with God has some great benefits. It teaches you to live with less fear. I have become less afraid of the dark because the Light is always with me. It also becomes easier to recognize dark things because you are accustomed to living your life in the light. You know immediately when you take an action that you shouldn’t. You learn to love people better, forgive faster, and that God doesn’t fit into any of our boxes we try to shove Him into.

I’m continually learning how to be in relationship with Him. How to trust. How to quit trying to tell Him how my story should be written. I’m so damn bossy. And He is patient, loving, and keeps redeeming me and my story. My prayer of late for my own life has been this, “I trust you to complete that which concerns me.” It’s been the ultimate way of me letting go and leaving it in His hands. Because here is the truth my prayers have taught me…

He is God. He is trustworthy and He is good. And even on the worst days…that is enough.

Middle School Megan On: Hanging Out At The Mall

Middle School Megan On: Hanging Out at the MallIt was in 7th grade that I was allowed to start hanging out at the mall with no parent chaperoning us. I remember feeling so free, walking around those stores with my $10 and my bff by my side, seeing boys we had crushes on and wondering if it was more worth it to spend our money on candy or PacSun clearance items. There were two popular malls to hang out at in the area of Miami I lived in:

THE FALLS

The Falls

OR…

SUNSET PLACE

The Shops at Sunset PlaceI was not a huge fan of The Falls, personally. I had had some dramatic experiences there, and it was kind of old news. Plus, it was always SWARMING with other pre-teens.

Sunset Place opened up when I was in 6th grade, and it had an IMAX theater in it along with a regular theater. It also had a PacSun, Wet Seal, Hot Topic, Barnes and Noble and several other stores I was into, and overall it just felt way cooler to hang out there. It was probably just as concentrated with youths as any other mall was, but I was convinced it was better. It was new and exciting, and my friend Allison and I would often spend our entire school week planning our Friday night around going to Sunset Place. Her mom would drop us off around 6, and we’d get picked up at 9 right in that spot that you see above.

Let’s talk about some things for a second:

1) Hot Topic was like half cool/half scary to go into. I definitely didn’t classify myself as a “goth” in middle school, but I had some goth-like tendencies. I loved/hated going into Hot Topic because I thought it was so legit, and always felt intimidated by those fully committed to the angry/all black wearing lifestyle.

2) PacSun was maybe the most amazing store in the world to me in middle school. Allison turned me on to the surf/skate lifestyle, and I was hooked hard. We would get surf magazines and look through them like it was the Holy Bible and cut out a bunch of pictures for collages and such. PacSun was the place to go to make all of our dreams come true, except… it was way too expensive. Even the clearance section was too pricey for us, most of the time. But man, I just wanted to wear every item in that store. I remember in 8th grade, getting this amazing baby blue hoodie from the front display. It was at least $40, but that’s what my birthday money was getting me, dangit. On the front, it had a girl holding a teddy bear and a boy holding a skateboard. On the back, the girl was walking away with the skateboard as the boy sat down with the teddy bear, looking like someone punched him. There was nothing cooler than that sweatshirt, and I wore it with my JNCOs and vans  in the hot, Miami weather.

3) Seeing my crush at the mall would nearly cause me to go into cardiac arrest. I was not what someone would have called “popular” in middle school, so I didn’t have boyfriends or hang out at the mall with guys. It was hard enough going to school everyday, knowing I’d be seeing the boy I liked (which changed monthly) and also knowing the stars would never align enough for me to date them (whatever that was supposed to look like for a 13 year old). So to see them out in the wild, unplanned and looking hella fly… it would just turn me into a complete idiot.

It’s so much fun to reminisce over these times. Even though I was so terribly insecure during that odd season of life, I really did have a great deal of fun, and the mall is where much of that fun took place.