For a really long time I thought contentment was bad because I equated it to being lazy. After all, we live in a busy, do-it-all culture that praises completed to-do lists and new achievements. But God challenged me to try to be content with where I was—the season, the location, the relationship status—and let’s just say was there a steep learning curve.
For context, I knew I had a lot of exciting moments coming up. I was dating the man I knew I was going to marry—it was just a matter of getting engaged first. I was in my last year of college and knew I would be able to start my first job in a matter of months.
But I was so focused on these future plans—and trying to force everything to fall on my timeline—that I was missing the life happening right in front of me.
So, I tried to be content.
Ironically, I was trying so hard to practice being content, that I was completely missing the mark and trying too hard. And then I read Paul’s words in Philippians, and my perspective immediately shifted:
… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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. Philippians 4:11-12 NIV
Paul learned how to be content no matter what his circumstances looked like. And that’s when it hit me: When we’re constantly going, moving, and doing, we miss the gift and opportunity of the present.
Doing all the things all the time is not sustainable—it will lead to burnout and regret. After all, we are human beings, not human doings. So, if trying to be content is not an excuse to be lazy, and is actually encouraged in Scripture, how do we live this out?
Here are three practical ways to be content.
1. Be where you are. God has you in your current season on purpose—and it’s for His purpose. So, see the gift of the present and be content with where He has you.
2. Keep your hands open. Seriously—stretch your arms out with your palms up in an attitude of surrender. Every time I do this, I’m reminding my heart and my mind of the truth in my soul. Remember the control issue I told you about earlier? Intentionally holding my hands open is the number one way I combat the desire and temptation to force things into my timeline and instead trust God with His.
3. Tell God the truth. You don’t have to love your circumstances to be content in them. Tell God how you feel about where you are. If you’re angry, tell Him. If you’re grateful, praise Him. If you’re confused, sit with Him. God is close, and He hears you. So, be honest with your feelings, hopes, and desires.
As you begin trying to be content, my hope is that God shows you the same truth He has shown me: We can be content without being complacent. It is not lazy to find joy in your current situation or to prioritize rest—in fact, it’s one of the healthiest things you can do.