Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Season for Contentment

I love this time of year.  Pumpkin spice latte’s from Starbucks.....and pumpkin spice everything else from Trader Joe’s!  Many REI trips for new coats, scarves, gloves, boots and hats...Broncos football tickets...skiing and snowboarding season is imminent!  Fall is getting expensive already, but I look forward to it all year!

True and abiding contentment is a fleeting emotion in my life.  The idea of being present and grateful for exactly what I have in the moment seems somewhat idyllic.  I want deep contentment so badly, but I have to admit that I continue to chase the cheapest of substitutes.  I usually see how content I ‘could have been’ when I look back on periods of my life where I was deeply wishing I was somewhere else or had something more.  Many times, in looking from the present to the past, I can see how I would have been wise to appreciate a period or person in my life that I took for granted.

Like a lot of women, I think my struggle with contentment has been a constant throughout my life.  When I was in high school I wanted to be in college.  When I was in college I wanted to be in the real world.  When I was engaged I wanted to be single.  When I was single again I wanted to be married.  A never ending cycle of the grass being greener..... 

I’ve come to realize as an adult that our Western culture caters to this on a deeply unhealthy level.  Unfortunately, we are so inundated with messages about how we do not measure up that we hardly notice the suggestion anymore. If we were different or just tweaked ourselves a bit, THEN we would be acceptable.  If we had ‘this experience’  or bought ‘this new product’ our lives would be meaningful.  When we acquire the object of our affection we still never obtain the state of mind or acceptance we are so desperately chasing.  The empty promise of following the world’s wisdom leaves us at a loss yet again. 

At the women’s conference earlier this month we talked about the toll this takes on us in our mental, physical, relational and financial health. The result can manifest itself in added stress, exhaustion, perfectionism, materialism, depression, illness - the list goes on, as we all know.  It is in striving for this perfection that we lose our uniqueness, authenticity and creativity - the things that the world so desperately needs from us.  We are worn out from all the chasing and striving, but all we know to do is spend more energy, time and money trying to ‘fix the damage’ or numb ourselves.

I love the author Bob Goff and his unique perspective on life.  In his book Love Does he speaks to this tension very well.  “And the fake version of us, it’s not worthless.  It’s just worth less because it’s only a copy of the real us, a version we don’t care about as much.  When we hang the fake version out there, it’s not the version God created.”

As Christians, we are called to something very different.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.  (Col 2:6-8)

When I get my identity from my material possessions, my home, my family, my job, my affiliations, or my general busyness then I will likely never be satisfied.  I will be left empty, again and again.  It is my hope for my own life (and the women of Flatirons) that before we get wrapped up again in the idea that Christ is not enough for us, we instead sit back, breathe and refrain from believing that lie.   He IS enough, because of him we ARE enough, and we need to intentionally take time to let Him remind us of this daily.

At the women’s conference Scott shared that the goal of our lives is to worship Jesus.  If my life, words, choices and time were an honest reflection of who Christ is, I truly believe that would lead to contentment.  My own contentment leads me to be more present relationally, able to really see other people - people who are dying for someone to appreciate their unique beauty.  Seeing the beauty God has created in each person and appreciating our own leads to a richer, more joyous, more fulfilling life.  A life in which Christ is reflected.  A life of true beauty.

The most important reason that I love the Fall is because more than any other time of year it leads me to a place of gratitude and thankfulness for the beauty that surrounds me.  God really shows himself and his care for us in a spectacular way this time of year.  Fall makes me want to slow down....take it all in.... and look at my life and surroundings through a different lens: one of thankfulness for the contentment, abundant life and provision that comes through Christ. 

Kristyn Cozad is new to flatirons and moved to Denver from the Washington, D.C. area this summer.  She travels for work and enjoys her time off more than she probably should!  She also enjoys going deep in conversations with old friends, meeting new friends and exploring her new city. 

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