The Bravery in Being Content

photo-1433650552684-d4004a945d6c

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.