Sometimes I sit on the floor surrounded by 5 laundry baskets, mountains of little shirts, pajamas, underwear, and towels, just trying to sort out everyone’s piles, and I wonder what in the world am I doing. And almost in the next moment, the thoughts start rolling that I am smarter than this, that I once contributed more than this, and that I definitely had more fun than this. Screams of sibling rivalry or the wails of sleepy children begin to blow winds of anger and resentment into my heart. “This is too hard, and I really don’t want to be dealing with this.” The mundane tasks of cooking and cleaning become spaces in which I grumble and complain. My life would be better if things were different begins to weave its melody into the moments of my day. Discontentment litters my mind and clogs my heart.
Contentment is defined as the state of happiness and satisfaction, but I can spend most of my day joyless and dissatisfied. Rolling my eyes, deep sighs of irritation, and quiet grumblings under my breath all become signals of a heart listening to the lie that my life would be much better if it didn’t look like this.
My life will never be…
In fact, my life will never be as good as before can almost become a song that plays on repeat. Before I had kids, I could always _____________ (fill in the blank) becomes my chorus. Perhaps you hear, “Motherhood is a roadblock to my happiness,” or maybe it sounds like, “I would truly be happy if I were in a different space in the mothering journey. If only I could be in another stage with my child (I can’t wait to stop nursing, get the baby out of diapers, or have my child learn to read) or I cannot wait to get my kids to college.” The song washes over you and me and coats us with discontentment and resentment.
I struggle with contentment – always have – always wishing for a different season, wondering how life might have been or could still be if I can shake loose of all the constraints of this stage. The insidious sneaking in of thoughts of how life could have or should have been better begin to monopolize and occupy my mind.
And the truth is, Motherhood is crazy hard! It just is. It is a self sacrificing, other loving, and other focused demanding role that costs you and me freedom, time, and even peace of mind. When my mind focuses on me, discontentment beckons. I can see everything from the perspective of loss of happiness, impeding my joy pursuit in life. Empty or spent emotionally and physically, I can flounder, looking for anything to fill the gaps.
The Lie Exposed
We must identify where this lie has rooted down in our minds and kill it. The truth is you and I are content in Christ – full of joy and satisfied.
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.“John 6:35
Our contentment comes from filling up and understanding that He is our Manna, the only One who will sustain and satisfy. In John 6, Jesus has just fed the 5000 the day before. If you remember, He had been preaching to a large crowd, and his disciples wonder how they could feed so many. Christ takes a few loaves of bread and fish, distributes them to everyone in the crowd, and instructs his disciples to gather up the leftovers. Awestruck with the miracle, the crowd begins to murmur about making Him king, so Jesus removes Himself to the mountain, telling the disciples to go across the lake. The next day the crowd catches up with them, seeking more miracles like the day before, hoping for more physical gifts.
And Jesus begins to speak to their longing by pointing to Himself and reminding them of their history. When the Israelites were wandering in the desert under Moses, their only source of food was manna. They needed to have this provision every single day. They ate nothing else in the wilderness, but they could only gather enough for themselves for that day. So they would get up in the morning and gather up in a jar what they would need for that day, but if they tried to keep it overnight, it would rot and be full of worms in the morning. He then pivots this picture of provision to true provision for eternal life. For what the manna provided physically in the desert, His life provides for all of us spiritually.
His life freely offered gives us life eternal as well as purpose and contentment right now. His song offers great delight even in the mundane. Why? Because the rest and security He offers is not based on what I am doing in the moment, in fact my purpose becomes His as I abide in His love and keep my eyes and ears tuned to Him.
Manna in the moments
Remember, Jesus had just physically fed the multitude with vast leftovers gathered afterwards. The physical picture of the spiritual truth is right there for you and me. As richly as He supplied the food for the crowd, He supplies His very presence to you and me. He supplies all we need for today to be satisfied, for we have Him. When I begin to realize the moments of insanity are really moments of grace, when I abide in His purpose for this moment both to grow me and point to Jesus for my children, or when I trust His plan and feast on who He is when I feel like I am wandering in a desert, then I am beginning to experience true contentment that does not fade.
When Jesus says “I am the bread of life,” all of those Jews understood the reference. He is saying, “I am manna. I am your life giving bread so fill up on me. But understand that you fill up on me daily, you find your contentment, you find your source of joy, of peace, of calmness in me everyday.” When we choose not to go out and gather our manna then we will have days that feel discontent. When I filter through being in Christ, manna for the day fills the aching of what might have been and answers the demands for what should be. There is active redirection.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in GodColossians 3:1-3
Truth at work
This must be a righteous holy war waged in my mind. The onslaught, the attack is fierce and may be until I die. The good news however is I do not fight alone. Christ’s work on the cross has changed my identity forever. Now I am positioned in Christ, no longer trapped in sin, but alive in Christ, full of His power working within me, with the Spirit of God living within me as a downpayment, a promise of eternity.
My life will never be as it was before I had children, but I can see my life in Christ as a holy calling, a disciple making endeavor linked with the great Teacher who will stretch my capacity in life.
For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.Colossians 2:9-10
My seeking, hoarding, searching, and gaining momentary satiation can cease. I can serve because He serves me daily with His life, and I can be content with Jesus alone.
He fills all He stretches.