Hi friends! Sorry for going MIA on you these past few weeks. Life’s been weird and frankly, I got hit with writer’s block that this space got a little hard to return to.
On Sunday, I curled up next to a fire in my backyard reading the third Mitford book while drinking a cup of tea. The city is, as always, loud with cars honking and music floating from my neighbors’ windows, but night had a certain serenity to it anyway. I looked up at the darkening sky in awe of its beauty and utterly aware of my failure to make more time to see it.
Life is full of these moments, these little joys, that make you want to embrace your days fully. In the midst of stress and uncertainties about the future, we can miss them. My days easily become a tirade of frustration. What I don’t have can often loom larger than what does. My pessimism can root out the good in every day. The directions we take our mind in become easier and easier to travel. Be careful of the path you let your mind wander.
The word itself brings to mind lives that are without a speck of trouble. No bills to pay. No worries to fret over. Just an effortless life. But this we know is a lie. Yet it’s a lie that we lap up like a midnight snack you can’t get enough of. Through television shows with perfectly done living rooms and well-dressed characters, we’ve been sold this lie that contentment only comes in the absence of trouble. That it comes when the fire has been put out.
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In reality, a fire in the right place can set the mood and keep everyone warm. The presence of uncertainty is what makes the good things good.
Contentment starts not with a life free from hardship, but with thank you. Thank you for a hot cup of tea! Thank you for the interesting dream! Thank you for the changing leaves! Thank you for your words of encouragement! The more we collect thank you-s, the more we have capacity to see the tiny joys that are shaping our days.
These tiny joys only come to us when we’re willing to be present, even in the midst of suffering. Being in my twenties feels like I’m starting from zero. There’s so much to learn–finances, building a career, maintaining long distance friendships, looking for a church, etc. It can be overwhelming just thinking of all the things I don’t know and all the things I don’t have. Instead, I have to choose to be thankful for the gifts of this season—my friends, the library (which I LOVE), cups of tea, Scripture, journaling.
If I choose to focus on what I love, like a night in front of a fire in my backyard, I will train my brain to look for more pieces of joy in my days. Feed yourself goodness and you’ll develop a palate for more.
A deeper move into a contentment has to start with a belief. Believe that you’re loved right where you are.
When everything has fallen apart–a loved one has died, a dream has shattered, you’re alone—one of the most courageous things you can do is believe that you’re loved regardless of what your circumstances are telling you.
Seek out confirmation of that love. For me, that looks like getting into Scripture daily. For you, it could be a daily walk outside, breathing in the crisp air, knowing that if the world was made beautiful, so are you. When we believe we are unshakably beloved (as Leslie Trovato puts it), our endurance increases. Not because life gets any easier. It doesn’t. But we know that the good in us is also available in the world, if we’re willing to seek it out.
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I’m still struggling with this idea. It’s true and yet it sounds too good to be true. As another chapter of my life unfolds, I’ve realized that the beginnings always suck and they always look bleak. I nostalgize my past and wish I could go back. There is no way but forward. The lows of post-grad life can really dampen my spirit, and still, there are moments when I’m grateful for where I am. Even if I can’t see a way out. Even if it still (6 months in) doesn’t make any sense.
Uncertainty is an inherent part of life. Contrary to what we believe, it is actually a miracle when a day goes as we thought it should. Believing I am loved assures me things will be okay exactly when things aren’t. Take stock of the little joys of this season: the weekly baking routine, the coziness fall inspires in your home, the song that’s been your jam, the memories you’ve been making.
In light of this whole post on contentment, do yourself a favor:
Get out a pen and paper and write out What’s to love about this season and this place? What are some of your little joys? And fill out this list. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t even have to be big. You just have to start.
Let me know in the comments below what little joys are making your days!