2012: The year I learned to be content

Has it really been five days since I’ve written? Hmm. It feels strange…that it doesn’t feel strange. You see, I’ve had a bit on my plate the last two weeks. In the course of fourteen days, my youngest daughter first came down with the rotavirus, had two days of relative good health, then got another stomach bug for 24 hours, and then to top it all off, is now fighting RSV. Ooph. Throw in the typical Christmas hustle and bustle, plus a sick husband, and another sick child in the mix, and you start to see why I’ve been kept away from the laptop.

Now I guess that’s not completely true. I’ve had time to write. Small chunks of time, but time nonetheless. So, then, what kept me from sharing my usual once-a-day posts? I just didn’t feel like it. I started a few posts, then abandoned them to my Drafts folder. The words aren’t bubbling up and flowing over, and I don’t want to force them. So why now? Do I feel that urge at the moment? No. This is a bit forced, sad to say. I actually felt like I owed you an explanation. Not that anyone has noticed. You’ve all been knee deep in to-do lists and fun parties (hopefully not in your kid’s upchuck, like many people I know this year).

I also felt like I owed it to myself. To pull apart this lack of desire to write. Have I run out of steam? Will I ever feel the urge again? Is this writer’s block? I’m not completely certain, but I think it may have something to do with this:

I write to feel better. I write to make sense of things. I write to cleanse my soul. So what happens, then, when my heart is steady? What happens when my gut is calm, not churning from anxiety and repressed emotion? Quite simply, I don’t feel as compelled to sit down at the computer, and dump my brain on the keyboard. It’s not that I don’t have enough to write about. My goodness. Living with a preschooler and toddler provides constant fodder. No, it’s not an “able” problem, it’s a “willing” problem.

But certainly, I must have felt stressed out and over capacity taking care of a sick family for two weeks straight? Shouldn’t I have wanted to process that? Writing should have been a relief, a way for me to leave all the angst on the page. It turns out, though, that I just didn’t need to put myself back together, since I haven’t come undone. I’m okay. A bit tired, a bit stir-crazy, a bit worried about my daughter’s health, but I’m okay. I’m content.

Content. That word. Hard to believe I’ve finally reached this point in my life. It’s kind of a big deal. After all, I’ve prided myself on being “perfectly discontent.” I even used that name for my first blog. “I love my life, but find that I’m never quite content, and I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s what keeps me going, keeps me searching, keeps me wondering.” 

So how did I come to this point, where I no longer feel “restless brain syndrome,” where I can not leave the house for days on end and not go completely insane? How did I finally learn to be at peace with my role of at-home mom after months of insecurity, uncertainty, and a keen eye for that green grass on the other side of the fence?

Gratitude. That word. A constant sense of feeling so unworthy for all the good things I have, and yet so appreciative of the hand that feeds them to me. A home. A working furnace. A partner I love. Not one, but two children. A fridge full of food. A warm cup of tea. And on. And on. And on. No, this isn’t a passing phase. Not a gratitude jar idea snagged from Pinterest. This is a real, deep shift in my core. I am not the same person I was a year ago, six months ago.

But why? Quite specifically, I can name two reasons. First, is the series my Bible study group went through, “Balancing Life’s Demands” by Chip Ingram. I’m a big fan of Chip. His messages are relevant, and they’re compelling. The lessons hit home. If I was feeling overwhelmed, it was my own fault. My priorities had to change. Drastically.

Second, is the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. In it, she details her own gratitude journey, of practicing eucharisteo. The shortened message of the book is this: If you want to get closer to God, you must practice the opposite of what caused the original fall. Ingratitude. Her personal stories often fall in lock-step with my own. A mother, searching to find purpose and beauty in the mundane domestic tasks. That’s me.

I have finally, finally, finally figured these two things out. 1.) I often cause the majority of my own stress by the choices I make. I am not a victim of circumstance. 2.) To feel discontent in spite of all of the gifts heaped upon me by God is not only shameful, but sinful.

Imagine, if on Christmas morning, you watched with eager anticipation as your children gleefully tore into the packages you’d so carefully wrapped for them. Each gift, hand selected, thought and love poured into every box, every bag. How would you feel then, if after revealing the treasure under the tree, your children threw up their hands and demanded, “Is this all? What more can you give us? This isn’t exactly what I wanted! Why does he have more than me? Why did she get that when I wanted it?!” Imagine how frustrated you would be. How defeated you would feel. You gave them everything, and yet they wanted more.

So what does this mean for this blog? Will I still write? Of course. I still have plenty of stories to tell. And I’ll tell the bad along with the good, just like I’ve always done. But I’ll probably whine less, and share the sunny side more. Not because I’m an idiot. Not because I’m afraid of raw emotion. Not because I want to paint my life as anything but completely real. But because I am practicing eucharisteo. It doesn’t come easily, or even naturally. But I’m giving it my best.

2012 has been a monumental year for me. I left my job to stay home with my girls. I went from time-starved for my children to trying to ingest an entire large time pizza. It was an adjustment. I launched a new blog. And then launched one again. I pulled painful memory boxes out of the back of my mind and unpacked them piece by piece, all on a public forum. And finally, I made the decision to leave my “perfectly discontent” self behind, and embrace these new seasons of my life for what they are. I don’t want to force open door #2 or #3, but rather just enjoy the rich bounty behind door #1. What I have is enough. More than enough. 2012 is the year I learned to be content, and for that, it will be remembered fondly.

Here. It all happened here. "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with!" - Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

Here. It all happened here. “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!” – Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

3 Responses to 2012: The year I learned to be content

  1. Jodi Pyle says:

    So beautiful and inspiring again, and definitely worth waiting for! I have recently been able to re-discover feeling gratitude. Grief had side-lined my ability to feel grateful even though intellectually I knew I still had many reasons to thank God and continued to go through the motions. Thanks for your perspective!

  2. lkelly says:

    As always, giving us a lot to think about!

  3. Amy says:

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! You inspire me.

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