Fear of Contentment

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I am traveling to Florida tomorrow. It will be so lovely! I get to go to Orlando, Jacksonville, and my home town. I’ll spend more time then I could dream of on the beach. And I get to introduce my baby boy to a ton of my family and friends.

…I don’t want to go.

Let me explain.

So by now you probably know about the wide-eyed, dream filled, college grad that moved to California.

I started in San Diego.
Six months later I moved to LA.
Six months later I moved to New Jersey.
Six months later I moved back to LA.

And, now you’re caught up.

Since then, it’s been six years of some freaking stability! —a fact that makes me both proud and terrified.

See, as a child I moved every three years. Usually from town to town, but one time from Colorado to Florida. Unbeknownst to my sweet younger self, this pattern of moving was instilling in me a vagabond spirit.

So, understandably, it was 3 1/2 years ago when I first got the itch.

 

2013

It was October. I was visiting my mother-in-law in New Jersey because I was planning my wedding on the East Coast. (Not sure if you’ve noticed by now, but I am one of the rare ones that gets along great with my mother-in-law!)

We spent a week going to farmers markets and pumpkin patches. The weather was perfect— crisp, with a little moisture in the air. I was on cloud nine!

One would assume that my bliss had everything to do with the fact that I was planning my wedding, but I couldn’t help but think there was something more. My husband and I would talk nightly, and after about my fourth night there, he was the one that brought it up:

“Man, maybe one day we could live there again.” – Hubby

“Oh my gosh!! You think so too!? That’s all I’ve been thinking about this entire week!!!” – Me

There it was. I put it in my husband’s head (and the minds of a few dozen friends and family  members) that within a year or so, we would live in New Jersey!

Time passed. And the more we thought about it, the more we realized, we didn’t want to live in New Jersey. So I was on the hunt.

 

2014

Next up to bat… Wilmington, North Carolina!

“Why, in Wilmington they have a film industry too! It’s perfectly between New Jersey and Florida. So we’ll both be close to home, without being too close, you know. It will be the perfect climate! The cost of living is reasonable! Everything will be perfect, perfect, perfect!!!” – Me

This time I was with my dad. We went to visit this Wilmingtonland— which I had never even seen before. But true to my dreamer mentality, I had high hopes that it would be great!

It was okay.

In all fairness, we had also visited Charleston in that trip —one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to— so after that, everything else paled in comparison. But I wasn’t giving up yet. My dad and I had more exploring to do first.

We headed over to the only film studio in Wilmington, so I could see… my future place of employment!!

First of all, there was a front office. (I’ve never seen a front office at any studio in Los Angeles. That’s how small this was.) The office door was locked. No matter, I just wanted to peek at it anyway.

As I started walking away, the door cracked open, and a young receptionist peered through.

“The tour doesn’t start until noon,” she said. It was 11:30.

“Oh, I’m not here for the tour. I’m here because I want to move to Wilmington! I live in LA for the film industry.” (That was my way of saying I wanted to be an actress without ever having to say, ‘I want to be an actress.’) “But I want to move back east now. So I’m going to live here! Tell me all about it!”

“Oh,” she said. “North Carolina just voted to cut film funding. Everyone here is packing up and moving to LA…. the place that you should live if you want to ‘pursue film’ you dumb dumb!”

Okay, she didn’t say that last part. But she should have.

As she shut the door, the symbolism slapped me in the face. It was a clear message that I needed to shut the door on this idea.

Sure thing. Not North Carolina, so now where!?

 

2015

It was early in September. I was back in Florida, spending the day at the beach, when it hit me…

“This is where I belong! It feels like home! I understand the culture here. My friends are here. My family is here. I grew up here. This is where my kids should grow up too!”

But I’ve always been a little nervous to move back to Florida, so there was a little bit of devil’s  advocate…

“But if I end up in Florida, I’ll probably stay in Florida forever.

“Okay, one more year in LA. I’ll conquer all things Los Angeles, then finally head home.”

 

2016

Welp, in 2016 I got knocked up— on purpose. So, Florida seemed even more obvious.

We’ll have a baby. We want to afford a nice house. We want a safe neighborhood; good schools. Florida just makes the most sense.

 

My what a rocky, rocky road my mind has been on.

 

Now

Arrow was born in November. After 3 1/2 years of searching, and searching, and searching for where I should go, and what the right path was, it was in December that I finally got what I really needed… contentment.

See, for 3 1/2 years, I was in this lovely cycle of planning a new life path for Jay and I, getting him on board, and having God softly shut the door.

Why it took me so long to pray this prayer, I’m not sure. But in December, this was what I said:

“God, I don’t know when we’re supposed to leave, but can you fill me with peace until then?

And that was it. Almost instantaneously a wave of calm washed over me.  I was in Malibu with my dad, and for the first time, I looked at a California beach, and I felt like I was home.

My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.
– Psalm 131:1-2

 

Ahh, finally a voice that is not my own.

 

Perhaps you don’t have a gypsy spirit like I do. So for you, discontentment may not be a desire to move back and forth across the country 50 times.

But wherever discontentment lies in your life, it probably starts with the phrase:

“If only…”

If only I won the lottery.
If only my house were bigger.
If only my boss weren’t such a jerk.
If only my husband would be a better… (Well anything. I think as women, we can fill that sentence with absolutely anything, even if we have the best husband in the world.)

Discontentment makes us crave more. It makes us long for that beautiful prize that we haven’t tasted yet. We catch ourselves saying things like, “Genine’s husband is so good to her and she doesn’t even recognize it! If my husband acted like that, I would never _____!”

You know what that tells us?…

Girl, you ain’t Genine!

You don’t know what Genine goes through. Maybe she’s more grateful for her husband than she portrays. Maybe her husband isn’t as great as you think. Or maybe Genine has some contentment issues of her own to deal with. But most definitely— it’s not your business! It’s just one more distraction keeping you from seeing the prizes you already have in your own hands.

I just found out a fact, (which apparently is well known, but I like to keep myself in the dark about these things) that there is a number of tragic stories connected to people who have won the lottery.  Everything from bankruptcy to suicide. After winning the lottery!!

It just goes to show, nothing in this world will ever satisfy our “If only.”

As humans, we long for something to fill this void. We seek to fill it with money, clothes, cars, vacations; where we live, or who we date… Yet in all of that, we still come up empty.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
– Hebrews 13:5

In whatever area your discontentment lies, that shining prize you think you need is not the answer.

There is only one answer, and His name is Jesus.  And He alone is enough.

Maybe I am supposed to move back to Florida one day. Maybe not. I don’t know. The best thing I can do for myself is to not care.

If God needs me to go to Florida, He’ll tell me to go to Florida— when it’s time to move to Florida. But for now, I have one responsibility: To be at peace with exactly the way my life is, exactly as it is right now.

It’s funny to me the way that God calls us each out of our comfort zones. I’m probably different than most people, in the fact that my comfort zone is moving. Your comfort zone might be staying put. But, maybe God is telling you to “go!”; to do something that scares the pants off of you. Do it! And find contentment in that.

Contentment and comfort don’t typically go hand in hand. But if we trust in Him, it’ll be better than we planned.

On days like today, where thunder clouds billow over Los Angeles, yet it never rains… I really miss Florida. I’m nervous to go tomorrow, because I don’t want to come back and wish we lived there again.

But I know, on humid, 90° Florida spring nights, where the best place to grab dinner is a chain restaurant that we’ve already eaten at 6 times that month… I would really miss LA.

If I spend so much time paying attention to how green the grass is over there, I’m am completely blinded from how lush the lawn is beneath my feet.

If your heart is racing to move; to get into a relationship; to change jobs; to have a different financial situation; or whatever that racing heart is telling you you don’t have…

“Be still and know that I am God.”
– Psalm 46:10

In an ever moving world, there is contentment in His stillness. Sink into Him. Seek His contentment for your life. He longs to give it to you. Maybe you just need to ask.

The truth is, I’m actually grateful it’s not raining. If it was, all of the clothes hanging on the line outside (which need to be in a suitcase by tomorrow morning) would be soaking wet! It’s always easier to want what we don’t have.

But if all you want is Jesus, anything more will bring you joy. Then you can rest in contentment, that thing you’ve actually been looking for.

                                        

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!  Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near!  Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.  And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.  And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.

I have great joy in the Lord because now at last you have again expressed your concern for me. (Now I know you were concerned before but had no opportunity to do anything.)  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance.  I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.  I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.

– Phillipians 4:4-13

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