“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.” Phil. 4:12
Induction into mommyhood is, in a sense, brutal. So many things you would consider basic rights are ripped away from you. Your right to personal space. Your right to not be vomited on. Your right to sleep more than a few hours at a time. Going from no children or even fewer children to adding a newborn is a little traumatic in the personal sense. Obviously children are a blessing, but they also make things more difficult. And as life gets more difficult, it’s easy to think about how things could be easier or better if just this or that was different.
For instance: if only Zac would sleep through the night instead of waking up eight to ten times a night, everything would be easier, because I would be less exhausted. If only I didn’t have to work, I could have more time and be less stressed out. If only my toddler would direct her urine to the toilet instead of the couch, life would be simpler. Since circumstances are making things harder, and we don’t like things harder, the obvious thing to do is to focus on changing your current situation, right?
The problem with this approach is that we live in a fallen world. Jesus hasn’t yet come and ushered in his perfect millenial reign that ends suffering. So no matter what, something is going to be not quite right in a way that provokes you to frustration. On the one hand, it’s the perfect opportunity to pray for the return of Christ. On the other hand, the good news is, God is perfectly pleased to allow hardship to remain in your life. Romans 5:3 says “…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.” It’s the exact opposite of what seems logical, but these small situations that grate on us and we pray disappear soon are actually working to make us more like Jesus.
The longer I live and the older I get, the more convinced I am that the gold at the end of the rainbow is not just having all your circumstances work out the best way possible. Because really, has that worked out for anyone? Even the rich and famous struggle with depression and suffering. The problems that you think are your problems are not your problems! My goal is to discover Paul’s secret. Because if I can be happy, if I can be satisfied and content, no matter my circumstances, I have everything that I need.
Unfortunately, knowing that being content with your lot is the secret to happiness does not EQUAL happiness, nor does it actually generate content … so lots of prayer is in order! I also remind myself constantly that the things I imagine need changing are not really as horrible as they seem. And a really important fact is that EVERYTHING CHANGES, especially in mommyhood, so the issues you are facing today will be gone in a few heartbeats. Perspective is a major key to satisfaction in your life. If we could see things the way God sees them, our discontent would dry up instantly.
This mentality shift causes us to change our prayer life and even the way we think about and talk about our situations. Realizing that what needs to change is not external, but rather internal, is actually calming in and of itself. Constantly meditating on difficulties and complaining about them push you farther from contentment. Nipping the adult whining in the bud and focusing on the real issue is the first step, along with prayer, to maintaining joy in every circumstance.