We had a wedding this weekend and for some time I have been planning to get an outfit to wear. As you know you don’t do this until the last minute because of the weather and because I may well lose 20 kilo and would hate for my dress not to fit. It is an unspoken rule in our culture that the women should buy something new to wear even if they have something they COULD wear already in their cupboard. We are very easily influenced by this wedding etiquette. So last Sunday night, I suggested to Steve that we head to DFO to see if we could get a bargain and because he loves shopping and like to spend money on me, he agreed. Come Monday however, one of my kids was unwell so I ended up staying home and decided I would have to go on my own later in the week. However, Monday night Steve threw a comment my way that left me a little puzzled. ‘Jen, can you NOT spend any money this week. I am paying bills tonight and I need to ensure we don’t spend what we don’t have.’ss.’ I looked up and straight away asked if that meant no shopping for a dress on Tuesday, and as he nodded and smiled, I threw some interesting dialogue at him (mostly in my head.) My Tuesday returned to normal, but my heart took a while to catch up. Thank goodness the preacher on Sunday had preached about contentment and the Holy Spirit had already been speaking to me but I took awhile to catch on that he was wanting me to respond.
I know it was no big deal but you do understand this was not just about buying a dress. Steve was not intentionally trying to get me to wear an outfit I had worn before or trying to be difficult. He was in fact doing what he does well. We had only just given an amount of money to our church Special Offering and he was rebalancing our budget and sacrificing some of the things in order to do so. We are also in saving mode so we can take the kids on a holiday in November. This was much more about what God was doing in my heart. I could easily have used manipulation to get Steve to release some money for me and in fact, initially I started by pouting to ensure he knew how I felt. But it wasn’t long before I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit and the intentional whisper from heaven reminding me that that was no way to behave and that Steve was both right and needed my support in this. How frustrating is it when our husbands get our agreement on something but only as long as it doesn’t impact on us personally. When they are trying to do the right thing financially and spiritually and we end up moaning in their ear we create a pressure on them that causes them to have to choose between pleasing God or their wife.
What I love about Steve’s message on recognising discontent and cultivating contentment, is not just that he has preached really well but how relevant and practical it has been to so many people and very timely for me this week.
Somehow I think that if Steve hadn’t preached about joy and contentment, I may have taken some time to hear God speak and taken even more time to respond to him. There is nothing wrong with wanting and buying a new dress for a wedding but I don’t want to ever let cultural etiquette and expectations of my peers overrule my godly priorities and personal convictions. In my situation, it was so much more about my heart and what God was trying to accomplish in me. Contentment must be intentionally cultivated so that in the moments of loss and disappointment our joy is not robbed. We can face disappointment and lack with thanksgiving and faith and peace or we can face it with discontentment. Discontentment can come as a feeling or as a thought. Either way we can confront them with perspective and thankful heart and verbalising what we have so that our ears and hearts can hear it.
When something far more important than a nice dress comes up, I know that this battle will arise again but I hope that through this experience I will respond much quicker and with a better attitude than this time.
Watching Christy Lane walk down the isle on Sunday made the vanity of my Monday night conversation fade to nothing and left me smiling about my not- so -brand- new fabulous dress!
What are you feeling discontented about that you need to confront with faith and perspective?
How has discontent robbed you of joy?
When was the last time you pouted and had a mini temper tantrum because of discontent?
How has your family been impacted by your discontent?
<strong>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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12, 13 NIV)