True confession time – I struggle with being content. It’s not a secret that my family has moved a lot. Goodbyes are hard. New transitions are hard. We are approaching two years of living in central Florida. And to be honest, it’s still hard. For several years now, I have picked a word for the year. Last year (2018), my word was “kind”. This year, I’ve chosen “content”. And it has not been easy (and we’re only a few months in….).

What fuels my discontent

I miss seasons. I miss the landscape coming to life with wildflowers and tulips and daffodils and countless other flowers after a long, hard winter. I miss snow. I miss mountains and valleys and rolling hills. I miss opening my window to enjoy a fresh spring breeze. I miss fall colors. I miss the way the leaves crunch under my feet. I miss watching my children make snow angels. I miss old friends and familiar places.

© Laura Gabel, "Lovelock's Lavender". Pastel on UArt, framed with a black mat and frame, 15 1/4 x 15 1/4. Private collection.
© Laura Gabel, “Lovelock’s Lavender”. Pastel on UArt, framed with a black mat and frame, 15 1/4 x 15 1/4. Private collection. Purchase “Lovelock’s Lavender” Here

How I’m growing in contentment

My new friends in Florida know that this place does not feel like home. And yet, they love me anyway and encourage me to find things here that make my heart happy. I love the ocean, and Florida does indeed have plenty of that!

peace blog Seaside Crop © Laura Gabel
© Laura Gabel, “Seaside”. Oil, 16×20. Private Collection. Purchase “Seaside” Here

I’m growing in my ability to identify the different types of birds here. I never knew there were so many different varieties of herons, gulls, egrets, and other water birds that live in abundance in Florida.

© Laura Gabel, “Reflections”. Acrylic and oil, 5x7. Private collection.
© Laura Gabel, “Reflections”. Acrylic and oil, 5×7. Private collection. Purchase “Reflections” Here

The real problem with being discontent

My lack of contentment isn’t just a matter of “getting adjusted”. And while seeing all the things I do enjoy about living here is helpful, it ultimately won’t “fix” my problem. My lack of contentment is a sin. I know that’s not a popular word these days. But the truth of the matter is that when I’m discontent, what I’m really saying is “God, I don’t like your plan. I don’t want to be here. I don’t like this place you’ve made.” That looks pretty ugly when I write it all out. I have a heart problem.

The secret to being content

The apostle Paul knew the secret, and in God’s providence, that has been preserved for us. He tells the Philippian Church: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:11-13)

Did you catch the secret? The secret isn’t me. It isn’t about me figuring things out, finding places and people and things that make me happy. The secret is the One who gives me strength. Only God can change my heart and my attitude to one that trusts in His providence over my life. Whatever may come, wherever I may go – I can be content knowing that God is at work, always, for my good and His Glory. And in that I can rest content.

How about you? Where do struggle to be content? Can we travel this road together and share the secret of being content? I need the reminders!


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