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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.

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.

 

I DIY-ed: Leather Strap Wall Clock

DIY Leather Strap Wall Clock

I’ve had a sudden pop of super-strength energy in the last week, which I’m assuming is the nesting phase kicking in. I hate the word nesting- I don’t know why. It just grosses me out. I prefer to call it “home preparing.” But whatever, I’ve just got a ton of energy and the strongest desire to get my house as clean and decorated as possible before Emery arrives.

We haven’t had much money to spare this summer for house projects, which is probably for the best. I’ve had a lot of purging to do, and it’s better that I get that out of the way before I spend money on adding new stuff into our space. It’s crazy to me that last October, we had a massive yard sale before we moved, and it felt like we got rid of an entire house full of stuff. However, since we’ve moved, we can certainly stand to have yet another yard sale. It’s embarrassing how much stuff I’m capable of collecting without realizing it. More stuff -> The need for more control -> More Stress. I want to have more balance in that area.

I’ve seen tutorials online for this particular wall clock that I’ve wanted to make for a while, but have just set aside mentally for when I go to ikea, because it required an ikea clock. We have no clocks in our house, other than the digital one on our stove and the ones on our phones, but I always manage to talk myself out of buying a clock. The clocks I end up liking are way too expensive and I can never justify the purchase. The other day I was at Big Lots looking for all-metal bull dog clips (it was the fifth store in Lake City that didn’t have them), and I found this clock that I got really excited about. It was only $15 and perfect to use for that tutorial I found, so I grabbed it. The tut calls for a leather belt, but I found this really cool leather strap thing at goodwill for $3. Judging by the clasps at both ends, it was probably for a purse. I didn’t even bother to look and see how they attached the leather to the clock, and went ahead and just bought a pack of super glue at Harbor Freight for $1.99.

Leather Strap Wall Clock

DIY Leather Strap Wall Clock

DIY Leather Strap Wall Clock

In total, this project cost me $20. Not bad! Especially since the elements are to my liking. At first I wasn’t sure about the white on white, so I tried painting the numbers black. But, since I have the steady hand and coordination of a T-Rex, I washed the paint off and just went with how it came. I think it looks great up on our wall! The super glue worked immediately, but I let it sit for a few minutes just to be careful. I glued the belt up to the 10 and the 2, which seems to be about right.

What house projects have you been into lately?