A couple weeks ago I began a new job (well, technically…I began a couple new jobs). With any new job comes learning new responsibilities, how that company functions, etc. It also means getting to know your new co-workers. Usually this can take some time. However, even though I have only been working at this particular job for a couple of weeks, I was surprised with how quickly a coworker of mine figured me out…at least to a degree.
Last week we were talking, and she said something that surprised me. She said “you seem to be the kind of person who has to have a purpose for everything you do.”
I would not disagree with her. I do like having meaning and purpose in all I do. In fact, I often seek for it when I am not sure what it is. But, I was surprised by this statement, because she only knows me a little from working together a couple of weeks. I guess that was all it took to see that in me.
“You seem to be the kind of person who has to have a purpose for everything you do.”
After saying that, she went on to share how she has learned in life (and mind you, she is much younger than me) that sometimes we have to simply take life as it is and seek to be content.
Content. That’s a word I don’t always like to hear. Not because I don’t know what it means or understand the importance of it. Rather, I don’t like to hear it because I’m not always the best at it. Specifically when it comes to the purpose and direction of my life, as well as what I dream about and desire. I am not very content unless it is as I want it to be.
In my book “Broken“, I shared several of my dreams from when I was growing up, and how I ended up seeing most of those dreams come to be. If I am really honest, up until the Fall of 2015 (amazing how much time has passed!), I would say that I was literally living my dream. Life was how I had wanted it to be.
Yet I sit here now in the Winter of 2021, with my life looking nothing like it did. And if I am honest with myself (and you as you read this), I’ve really struggled to let go of what was. Admittedly, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy and emotions on complaining to God about what is versus what was. It’s regrettably been a main theme for me…being upset and complaining about what is and not wanting to let go of what was.
Recently, as a result of some personal reflection and growth I’ve been doing through the help of a couple different life coaches, I’ve started to recognize this in myself at a deeper level. So when my coworker said that to me, it really hit me. She hardly knows me, yet she was able to easily recognize that in me.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to have purpose in what we do. She wasn’t saying that to me, the life coaches who have been helping me haven’t alluded to that, and I’m not saying I think it. Purpose is a good thing. But, so is contentment. And what I’m recognizing is that sometimes, I may have to learn to be content with what is first, before I find purpose.
The same week as that conversation, I received a devotional from a friend. It was on Psalm 23:1, specifically the second half of that verse…
“I Shall Not Be in Want”
This is the sentiment of a sheep utterly satisfied with its wonder, perfectly content with its lot in life. The word “want”, as used here, has a broader meaning than might at first be imagined. The main concept is that of not lacking, not deficient, in proper care, management or husbandry. But a second is the idea of being utterly contented in the good Shepherd’s care and consequently not craving or desiring anything more.
There are a lot of things in this life that I have no control over. I wish I did, I would like to. I want to have everything work out exactly as I dream of and hope for and desire to…just being honest. However, I also know I can’t control everything, or have it all go as I want. At least I know that in my head.
But do I know that, and accept that, in the way I live? Do I live with contentment? Even though life doesn’t look at all like I would want it to, do I still trust God and believe that he is in control? Am I living my life with contented trust…or complaining resentment?
Purpose is a good thing. I don’t need to stop wanting to have purpose, nor give up chasing my dreams. But, I have to work at being content in the moment. Because whether I understand it or like it, this is the place God has me in at this moment. So I need to trust him and his plan for this moment.
As we seek to Simply Follow Jesus in this life, may we learn the importance of being content and trusting God in the moment. Especially when we don’t particularly like it or understand why it is the way it is. May we trust God, and may we live with contentment. Because he is our Good Shepherd, and he is in control.