Monday, June 15, 2015

Week One - Contentment is a state of heart, not of affairs

This blog entry and the weekly ones to follow will be of a different structure than my previous entries. I have recently joined a Bible Study, which starts tonight, where we are reading Calming my Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. I do not know about my friends, family members, and random internet readers but being anxious and discontent is something I often struggle with, often without even realizing it. When I discovered this Bible Study was being offered at my church, I immediately purchased the book and decided to dive in. I am going to try to restrain myself and participate with the others by reading only one chapter per week, as instructed but I do not always follow the rules as I have been reading ahead for weeks and months in my current book club, so we will see how it goes. Anyway, if you're looking for a post about my craftiness, those might be mingled in among these entries but the sole purpose of this blog for the next few weeks will be my journey to calming my anxious heart and learning to lean more heavily on God. Feel free to join me if you'd like, if not, my feelings will not be hurt, mostly because I will not know if you read it anyway :)

Week 1 - From control to content. 
Wow. What a heading. 

When reading this first chapter of the book, I instantly thought...did I write this? Are these my own thoughts filling these pages of my Kindle screen? I knew instantly that this book would be something I would gobble up and retain. This book is applicable in every sense. I do struggle with anxiety whether that is anxiety to follow a schedule, my timeline of events in my life, my work, my grad school, or just every day tasks. Anxiety can consume a person and unfortunately, at times, it has consumed me. The constant nagging of "what if?," "what now?," "how?" plagues me. However, what I did not think about was the link between anxiety and contentment. I strive to be content, I really do but at times, I find myself constantly thinking what next instead of focusing on the here and now.

One quote that stuck with me from this chapter was "contentment is a state of heart, not a state of affairs." Wow. You do not gather contentment from the amount of material items you surround yourself with or even the advancements at your job. While these can be great blessings from God, it does not define who I am as a person or my level of contentment in my life, relationships, etc.

For anyone who knows me, this might come as a complete and total shock [sarcasm], I am a control freak. I admit it and isn't that the first step to being able to fix the problem? I like my schedules. I like my timelines and to-do lists. While this is not always a bad thing, letting it consume you and getting your panties in a twist when something goes off schedule can cause anxiety and can lead to complaining. I don't mean it to but sometimes that train goes off the track and I do not catch myself quickly enough. However, if Paul [Philippians 4:11-13] can learn to be content with his surroundings and his life, why can't I? For a person who loves to be in control, I know it is hard to relinquish it and honestly, at this point, I feel like I am going to fail more than succeed but I hope I can take what I am learning from reading God's Word and apply it in my life. 1 Timothy 6:15 explains that God is the controller of all things, not me. This is a hard concept to grasp when you want things on your own time.

When studying this week, one of the study questions asked us to define contentment in our own words. Contentment to me is the idea and state of being happy and satisfied with what God has given you, good or bad. It is easy to praise God when good things happen in our lives but it is difficult to praise him in the storms. My prayer is to be content with what I have no matter the size or situation. In the book, a missionary listed her five steps to contentment. Among them being "never complain, never compare your lot with another's, never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else, never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise, and never dwell on tomorrow, those are in God's hands." I know which of these I struggle with, how about you?

Edit: I've recently started Bible Journaling :) Here is a picture of week one below:

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