I guess you could call this post one of those lessons learned at the grindstone of a homeschool mom…
When I was a new mom and started attending morning Bible Studies, and they had planning meetings with a list of topics to choose from, I always always ticked the “contentment” box on the list. I so wanted to know more about contentment. Seriously I was pretty much reeling with my new baby. I had left work for the world of motherhood with wild enthusiasm, of course I could do “it” and I could do it well…
Turns out “it” was quite a bit harder than I expected and certainly not my typical assignment, that I could hand in after a few weeks and get a grade!!! My life was nothing like the “media presentation” I had been given… there were no flowing gowns while my baby slept, there was no perfect house with manicured lawns and scrumptious healthful dinners night after night. We just went from being a family with two students earning a pitiful salary, to one student and two dependents… it was far more like a bowl of rice with a sprinkling of herbs and absolutely no sleep to mention and t-shirts covered in spit-up!!!
And I can tell you that going to a morning Bible Study didn’t help one bit. My little guy and I visited in houses that looked just like the dream, often with full-time help and one parent with a serious career and the other working from home and perfect children that weren’t actually there because they were in play-school. I tell you from behind my seriously sleep deprived eye lashes it looked like they had it all… including the climbing frame, and weekends away at guest farms. I never really looked any closer at their lives and never imagined that they too would have piles of laundry or days when the car would just not start… it just looked perfect and I thought that that was what contentment was all about!!!
Well a couple of kids further down the line I have found contentment to be something quite different to what I thought it was, contentment is actually being happy with what you have, it is not a level that I have to achieve, it is not a goal I am reaching for or striving to attain. Contentment is right where we are right now. Contentment is really is really the ability to accept our circumstances whatever they are, even negative ones, look at Paul in Phillipians 4, he suffered and yet was content in all circumstances – in jail, in pain, whatever, he was content!!!
So what changed, I think contentment crept up on me unawares… while I was reading to my kids. I have spent the last ten years reading missionary biographies to my kids for school, hours and hours of reading about folk who were far more noble than I will ever be. Folk who travel the world, who were persecuted mercilessly and yet still overcame and ended up singing praises to God in all circumstances, even prison of war camps.
I guess it is all about that great comparative party, when we look at what others do and what others have. As a mom at home my life can seem pretty dullsville, trust me on this, there isn’t that much glamor in the day to day of it all… turns out I am not really a glamor girl and I am happy with dullsville of my kids splooshing and helping with the dishes. I have a friend who visited a while back and stared aghast at our end of day laundry piles waiting to be packed away, she has a housekeeper and hasn’t done laundry in years!!! I tell you the truth I love the end of the day laundry piles, they tell me of a day well done!!! There will always be people who think you are living on easy street and there will always be people who wouldn’t change places for the world, thank-you very much. Turns out it doesn’t matter what other people think, or what we think about other people… it is more about Colossions 3:2:
The great thing about this is that it is something I can practice… setting my mind on things above. So I too can aim for contentment in all circumstances. I don’t have to get it right straight away, one step at a time, changing my perspective on the smaller things:
- A change of perspective from frustration at all the things left undone because of interruptions – to welcoming all those little opportunities to serve.
- A change of perspective from all those requests we make in a day that are totally ignored – our kids are in training and so are we!!!
- A change of perspective from thinking our tasks are unimportant – to realizing that to teach our children to have servant hearts they need to see a servant heart – we all know they do what we do and not what we say!!!
Now from time to time we have a group of moms round to my house for Bible Study and I hope that they don’t look at me and think that I have it all!!! The cute kids, the perfectly tidy house and a banquet three times a day!!! In actual fact they are right, we do have it all, but we are far from perfect and far closer to a house full of kids, very often wild chaos… and lots and lots of laundry!!! Our house isn’t perfect, I am still sleep deprived and we still have nights when dinner is rice with a sprinkling of herbs. But what I do have is a bunch of kids who are loving and learning and preparing for a life to “Love the Lord with all their strength and all their hearts and with all their souls and with all their minds” (Matthew 22:37). And with that I am more than content!!!