June 26, 2008

“Finding Contentment in Our Little and Our Lot”

This morning in my quiet time with God, one of the talks from the She Speaks conference leapt to the forefront of my mind. It’s a message I so urgently need to be reminded of today. Maybe it’s something you need to hear too.

But first, I need to be honest.

As I’ve written, I loved the She Speaks conference. But something else is festering in my mind that doesn’t resemble sweet spiritual fruit like love...or joy...or even peace. In fact, I think these fruits are their rotten cousins, cast out of the bushel basket—discontentment, jealously and doubt. Yuck!

I would have been perfectly pleased with my conference experience if I hadn’t done one thing: compared it to others. With each blog I read, I compared my experience to the writer’s: “She made more friends.” “She had the life-changing experience I was hoping for.” “She befriended one of the ministry leaders.” “They’ve gotten more comments on their blog.” “Out of the crowd of hundreds, she was noticed.”

Those rotten fruits are overtaking the fruit salad and it stinks in here!

On Saturday morning, Karen Ehman spoke about this very thing: experiencing Godly contentment. Contentment like Paul wrote about in Philippians: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and EVERY situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (4:12b, emphasis mine)

But we’re not content in ALL situations, are we? We’re content UNTIL. We’re content with our marriage, UNTIL our sister gushes about her thoughtful husband. We’re content with our children, UNTIL we observe our neighbor’s “perfect” kids. We’re content with our homes, UNTIL we see our friend’s professionally-designed kitchen. We’re content with our job UNTIL we get passed over for a promotion. We're content with our faith UNTIL someone gets the God experience we wanted. We’re content, UNTIL… Yuck!

It doesn’t take a theologian to see that our version of contentment and Paul’s don’t line up.

We set ourselves up for failure when, through our own sin-filled eyes, we rank and compare and judge. We pat ourselves on the back if we measure up. Or struggle with rejection and doubt if we don’t. We strive for the kudos of man instead of the accolades of heaven.

We forget that before the foundations of the earth were set in place, God made us. He chose us. And He set a purpose for our lives. It’s not a one size fits all plan, but one crafted just for YOU.

As believers, each of us is part of the body of Christ, not one more important than the other. (Read 1 Corinthians 12.) Some have been called to the limelight; others to remain behind the scenes. Some to feed thousands; others to nourish just a few. Some to be bold and gregarious. Others to be quiet and reflective. Some will be entrusted with a lot; others with a little. It doesn’t matter WHAT we do, it matters THAT we do.

So what was Paul’s secret to being content in any and every situation? Trust. He said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) Even though his flesh probably had other ideas, deep in his heart he trusted and followed God’s plan for HIS life—not Peter's life or Timothy's or Luke's.

Thank you Karen, for showing us truth. (I’ve personalized your message, so forgive me if I’ve misrepresented you.) Judging by the response of the audience, it’s not just me who struggles with being content with my little and my lot. Why, oh why do I find this so hard?!

What about you? Do feel that God has forgotten you because He’s too busy crafting big plans for others? Do you struggle to even know what His plans are for your life? Do you feel overwhelmed by your circumstances? Is your basket filled with more rotten fruit than spiritual fruit?


Marybeth said...

Oh Kelli-- how your thoughts mirror my own as I assess She Speaks through the thoughts and observations of others. Satan loves to confuse us, isolate us, and wear us down with doubt. Too many times we willingly hand him the victory in these moments. Thanks for helping us all see the rotten fruit in our lives.

And please, you are SO not a stalker!! I love your comments so comment away!!

Karen Ehman-The Keep it Simple Woman said...

Bless you!! I stand amazed that a lesson God taught to little 'ole me also convicted sweet little you!!! He is awesome!!!! Keep serving Him and being real.
You rock!
In Him, Karen Ehman

Roxie said...

Kelli, Didn't make it to the conference so to my rotten fruit basket add a bit dose of jealousy. After reading different blogs, I think the devil is a sneaky fellow...he takes a perfectly wonderful event, where y'all learned bunches and met new friends and then makes the attendees doubt themselves and what God is doing in their lives. Cast out the rotten fruit and enjoy all your blessings. Loved your post. Blessings, Roxie

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, thanks for an honest post that can help me be prepared for one of the things that can happen during or after attending a conference. I hope to go to one sometime before long, and this is a good "heads up". Thanks for sharing.

MoziEsmé said...

We all go through those feelings I think. Thanks for expressing them and a positive way to deal with them.

Lisa B @ simply His said...

I am so with you Kelli! I felt the exact same way -- except a lot of it happened while I was there. {especially comparing blogs and such}

The one thing I learned after the conference when I had some time with my husband to talk through things, he helped me realize that I write better when I write for me -- not to try and compare myself to others. When I wrote my recaps of She Speaks (and am still writing!) I am writing to remember things -- writing for me.

Your writing can just be between you and God. We're going to come along and read it :) but try not to compare yourself with others -- oh, and help remind me of this in a few weeks when I'm likely to be comparing myself to other "bigger" bloggers. I'll help you remember if you help me :D

Peggy said...

I'm here, Kelli...
Sorry, last week was a very long,sad and happy week for me. (We will talk about it, soon)
I did get your phone call, and did read your blog, which, as usual, was great and full of wonderful inspiration for me.
I hope you are enjoying time with your family, and Iam ,with baited breath,waiting for your next installment.
Don't stop writing, your words are so very helpful to me and I know very pleasing to Our lord and Savior. He is pleased with you and your writing, can't you feel His joy in your praise to Him?????
Blessings and Love, Peggy

Runner Mom said...

Hey, girl!
I just read your blog, and it speaks volumes!! I guess that my "piece of rotten banana" was that just about everyone seemed so confident in the track that they chose. I'm still listening to God to see where He wants to use me. So...I wound up taking sessions that applied to all 3 tracks, and I loved it!! I gained so much insight doing that. I just don't "fit " in a mold. Sorta like when I taught school...I was the teacher who had to do something different!! From my lesson plans to the set-up in my classroom...it wasn't the norm. And I was finally ok with that.

I can't wait to read some of your earlier posts and soak in your thoughts :). You are precious!
Love ya!

breaths of the heart said...

Oh how I can relate to your post.. I SO needed to hear this today! Thank you for reminding me that God is in control and that He DOES have a plan for my life!

Kay Martin said...

Looking to the right and left to see where I stand in Christian walk has been a trap for me also. I'm a She Speaks Conference attendee also. Being 64, I had little temptation to compare myself with other attendees. Most of the women were much younger. Part of my purpose in attending was to come to peace that God was or was not calling me back into ministry. I'm available to speak and write after years of caring for ill family members. It doesn't make sense with my silver hair and wrinkles that this would be a time God would use me. I keep reminding Him that this culture prefers youth over everything. But in the wonderful She Speaks conferences, attendees' encouragement and my alone time in my hotel room solidified God's call. Y

ou have a writing gift that will have me reading you regularly. You have courage to be real and get out of the typical "Christian" box. I look forward to all God is flowing through you. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kelli,

Perfect timing for me ! I received two letters from Guideposts readers and after a few moments of joy the rest of the day and still I am nagged with this thought " three million readers and only two letters?"

Today because of your blog I am going to rejoice in those two letters...by the way after reading
some of your blogs I am completely jealous of you. You are an amazing writer!
Talk to you after the wedding.

Many Blessings
Donna Teti