For years, I chose complacency over contentment as I lived what I believed was my best life. I have never loved conflict so this seemed like the best choice for me. Complacency feels like peacefulness when you do your best to steer clear of all things controversial. The thought of peace in any circumstance draws me in and if complacency is the way to get there, why not make it part of my daily living?
I imagine some of you “get” this and might even be nodding your heads in agreement right now. I appreciate your understanding. As with any post, I could stop here and find that some of us would feel satisfied that life is going so smoothly. But what if, God has more for us. What if in choosing complacency or contentment, God decides our lives are not just about finding the easy way?
Five years ago, I began a journey into the wilderness. Life took an unexpected turn. The dreams that had made their way to the surface began to disappear as quickly as they had appeared. I retired from teaching after thirty years. As I walked out of the school building, I pondered a future that appeared wide open. My role as a teacher and the hook where I hung my identity were gone overnight.
I stepped into a new role as my dad’s caregiver. There was neither complacency nor contentment present in this season as I pushed hard against accepting that I needed to let go of my dreams for the “sequel” of my life. If complacency represents peace, then the push and pull I was experiencing were leading me in the opposite direction. Have you ever found yourself in a season where God chose the direction and outcomes for you?
A season of caregiving was not my choice but it was the best thing that God could have done to grow my relationship with my dad. It taught me to accept the circumstances and understand that contentment comes not just in the easy but the hard as well. Until this point, I believed that complacency was the best life choice. During this season, my dad modeled for me what a life of contentment looks like even as you are persevering through physical therapy for a broken hip. It was beautiful, messy, and raw, and it was all from God.
Finding ourselves on the path toward contentment will always lead us through a wilderness or messy middle period of time. I am learning this is how God teaches the life lessons that we absorb into becoming our life’s path. God knows what we need and takes us through hard times, not as a punishment, but as a way to grow us in relationship with Him.
My caregiving season was marked with frustration, push back, complaining, and other things that I am not proud to admit. The journey to contentment was one of the hardest things I have done. It took an energy and mental capacity that I didn’t always think I was capable of. It took my dad’s peaceful and calm persona to show me that contentment was acceptance, but it was also a deep trust in the One who orders our days and nights.
Day after day my dad simply trusted that God would provide what He needed for that particular day. My dad focused on the hard work, but even more so, he chose to love me and learn what made me tick. It was in looking outside of himself, even through his pain, that left me knowing my dad loved me deeply because of the Father’s deep love for him.
Contentment is not just a choice we make, but a way we live our lives. It runs deep inside before it is able to spill out for others to see. My dad lived a life of contentment and left this behind as part of his legacy. A legacy that is now mine to cultivate and pass on to my kids for future generations.
Take the Lesson and Make it Yours
A season of caregiving is nothing when I consider the pain and frustration my dad experienced as he watched his independence fade away. Each day brought new challenges and in the middle of the unexpected, my dad displayed a peace that complacency never brings. My life journey led me to the intersection of complacency and contentment and I saw clearly for the first time. The choice was clear because God was there all along showing me the way.
Hope was always at the threshold of each door I walked through. It was only when I acknowledged God was on the other side that I found my way home.
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24
Complacency will provide a temporary fix, but contentment will last a lifetime.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 1 Timothy 6:6-7
Choosing to live a life of contentment will lead you through the wilderness, but God will be with you every step of the way.
Contentment is not just a choice we make, but a way we live our lives. It runs deep inside before it is able to spill out for others to see. #newpost #TellHisStory #linkup Click To Tweet
The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. Deuteronomy 1:30-31
There is nothing God won’t do to draw you closer to Him. Wilderness living is not for the faint of heart but the good news is that God never leaves you nor forsakes you. Each choice and every step you take in this journey called life is one that is either just getting you by (complacency) or one that lasts for the duration of your life (contentment).
Let’s walk together in this uncertain, wilderness period we are living in, trusting that the One who knows the way is right by our sides. May you feel the presence of God in every breath, whisper, and choice you encounter this week.
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Your words are beautiful. Thank you for sharing your experience. Caregiving is hard. I live it. It, by far, has been the most challenging and rewarding. I don’t always choose contentment. However, acceptance has been a tool, and knowing God’s in control is everything.
God is in control and that alone is reassuring. I would agree that caregiving is challenging and rewarding. I wish I understood and learned the reward part while I was in the midst of it with my mom and my dad. Thank you for being here.
I think I found my way to contentment from the opposite end of the spectrum – the opposite of complacency – where I had to fight to retain who God showed me I was – because too many people wanted me to be something other than me – and if I had been complacent I would have lost God and myself. However, there was a time between age 30 and 40 – that I learned that I didn’t have to fight/battle any more – and I remember thinking I could stop fighting now (a husband who encouraged me to be me made a huge difference) – and with God I found contentment – in who I was, in the journey through the battles – though there was lots of tears as I learned HOW TO trust God. Thank you for your post Mary – it’s made me remember when I walked away from a battle God said I didn’t have to fight any more!
Thank you for sharing your story, Maryleigh. I had not thought about fighting for your identity. It must have been a very difficult time. What a testimony to God that he brought you through this and you don’t have to fight the battle that is God’s to fight for you.
Thank you for teaching us through your story.
You’re welcome. Thank you for being here.
A friend of mine wrote a book about her journey of caregiving called “The Reluctant Caregiver.” You may resonate with it! Whenever I’m thrown into doing something I really don’t want to, I can resist which really just causes more tension and stress. Yes, contentment in all circumstances, including the hard work that can come while building God’s kingdom here in earth. is a heart and mind state worth the effort!
The book sounds like a good one. It’s nice to know that you resist when thrown into things you don’t want to do like me. I’m glad I am not alone. Let’s choose contentment as we work toward building God’s kingdom.
Good words. As veterans of a 13 year wilderness with 3 1/2 years of homelessness as we followed God in uncompromising faith we can certainly attest to how difficult the wilderness is. But the reward of such sacrifice is Jesus Himself. For that we find what we gave up (house, business, friends, family, belongings, reputation and security) was as nothing compared to what we have received.
Thank you for being here. You blessed me with this kind comment.
Is all about the lessons we learn in each season Mary! God has a theme going!
I love your following statement;
“Contentment is not just a choice we make, but a way we live our lives. It runs deep inside before it is able to spill out for others to see. ”
It is all about the lessons we learn, isn’t it? My dad taught me through the way he lived his final year that contentment was not just a choice, but a way of life. Thanks for being here.
Oh Mary … the lessons we learn from our parents in their final months and days … lessons that we might not even realize we are learning until we look back on it later. Your father sounds like a wonderful person, and what a gift to be able to reflect on that time with him and see what God produced in you because of it. I love how you put it: “God knows what we need and takes us through hard times, not as a punishment, but as a way to grow us in relationship with Him.” Amen, my friend!
I know you and I could share stories about our parents and what it looked like as we cared for them. I pray you have some lessons and memories from your parents too. Thank you for being part of the community.
Thanks for sharing what you learned through that season, Mary! I love your dad’s example of contentment.
You’re welcome, Lesley! I feel that you knew some of the backstory. Thank you for stopping by.
Interesting that what I wrote yesterday and linked up today was about contentment as well. The 2 big areas of my life where I was discontent for YEARS were with regard to where I live and with the size of my family (I wanted more than 2 children, but ran into fertility issues). After struggling with discontentment for years, God brought me to the place of contentment—and he did it by changing ME, not my circumstances. I still live in the same place, and I still have only 2 children. Contentment, truly, is a gift!!
I can’t wait to check out your post. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story of contentment. God does work on us to change and does not swoop in with what we want to learn the lessons He has for us. I love reading that you believe contentment is a gift because I believe that too.
There is such a false sense of peace – even satisfaction – that comes with the “no conflict” complacency seems to offer. But it is so empty and anything but satisfying. I (like many) want contentment over complacency….just not the middle ground it takes to get there. Nevertheless, I am choosing contentment! Thanks for the encouragement – and the willingness to share your story so candidly.
Complacency does lead us to false peace, but in my case, I did not really understand it until I learned what contentment looked like. I am known for wanting to take the easy way, but God knows this too and patiently walks me through the hard. The rewards are more abundant on the other side.
I feel blessed to have been able to ride along with you on this journey that God has had you on. I know that God brings people and events into our lives so that we can REALLY learn to be content no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. And, just when we think that God can’t take us any deeper, He takes us deeper still as He molds us into the image of His Son. Beautiful post!
It has been so affirming to have people like you walking by my side. It helps me to know I am not alone and that this community is praying for me and encouraging me at the exact time I need it. You are a dear friend. Thank you God for providing the right people to walk this journey with me.
This pandemic has been a wilderness season for all of us, hasn’t it? We are almost fortunate in the sense that most of us are experiencing a wilderness moment at the same time. We can comfort and support each other.
When I was my mother’s caregiver after a stroke, I now realize I was in a wilderness time of my life too. Mom’s nature was not peaceful or calm (she was very unhappy about losing her independence), but I learned a lot from that time too. God was teaching me about letting go.
The lessons He taught me during that time, I would not have missed for the world, even though some of them were painful.
Thank you for a wonderful reminder, Mary.
You are right in saying that we all are in a wilderness season due to the pandemic. There is comfort in knowing that we can support one another. It makes me wonder though if I would rather be comforted by someone who intentionally chooses contentment over someone who is complacent or just getting by. I am grateful for the lessons my dad taught me and I like knowing that God taught you during your caregiving season with your mom, too. It’s not easy but we are left with an understanding that required us to go through the wilderness to reach the hope that God had waiting for us.
Dear Friend- God bless you for the ways you bare your heart to all!
Thank you for speaking to my heart today.
You are so welcome. There is so much life that we both have been through, but knowing that we can have the gift of contentment is a blessing on the other side of hard.
Oh, thank you Dear Mary, for these precious words. I too can see how God has moved me from being complacent & non-confrontational, into a place of truer contentment in Him. It has not been easy, especially through these last few years of chronic illness, but I am so thankful that He has continued to work in my heart. And yes, what you have shared makes so much sense to me. I am so blessed by your heart and sharing here. Blessings and love and prayers for you!
I know I have told you this before, but you are beautiful example to me of living a life of faith in God. Your chronic illness challenges you daily, but I see a peace that can only come from the Father. Thank you for being such a light for me.
Thank you for sharing these lessons God taught you from your dad and the season of caregiving, Mary. Such beautiful truths here. I love how your dad taught you by example that contentment is not only acceptance, but “also a deep trust in the One who orders our days and nights.” So true. Love and blessings to you!
My dad was a man of few words, but when he spoke you knew he was going to say something important. He taught me so much through his example of living in peace and loving others. It is so good to see you here, Trudy. I hope you had a wonderful summer.
I find myself in the complacent rut more often than I’d like to admit. I’d much rather be content!
I’m glad you admitted because then I know I am not alone. I am praying we both continue to strive for contentment in our lives.
Thank you – love this post, one of my favourite verses to ponder on has always been ‘I’ve learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…’ from Philippians 4 – and yes such a good reminder of the danger of settling for less, and accepting complacency!
Thank you for sharing the verse from Philippians. It really hits home the point of this post. I know that I can easily settle, instead of pushing through the hard to the greater gift, which is contentment.
I’m so glad you’re reflecting on that difficult season in your and your dad’s lives, Mary. You are mining many valuable lessons from that time that we all can benefit from. It’s like the refinement God has done in your life is making you shine like a diamond with His brilliance! Certainly, no complacency evident in that!
Your words are so encouraging. I am grateful for a patient God as I continue to go back to my caregiving season to learn and understand. I am also thankful for friends like you that see in me what I don’t always see in myself. Hugs to you!
Mary, I appreciate how you differentiate between complacency and contentment. I agree, contentment takes intention and hard work. Lovely post.
Both complacency and contentment take some intentionality, but it is contentment that will last us a lifetime. I always love having you here, Debbie.
Caregiving was one of the hardest times of life for me. I regret I didn’t handle it better, but I am trying to let its lessons continue to speak to me. I had not thought of the differences between complacency and contentment. I do have a tendency towards complacency and really need God’s grace to be content in all circumstances.
I’m sorry to hear how difficult caregiving was for you. I feel like I wasted so much time fighting it when I could have spent that time just being present with my mom and dad. I am a grace girl, also. It is with and by God’s grace that I am able to lean into contentment in my own life.
Mary, thank you for sharing this season with us. It is exactly what I needed to read in this season. I am so thankful the Lord knows all of our days and holds each one tenderly in His hands.
You’re welcome! I know you are navigating life with older parents. God has so much for you in this season.
Thanks Mary, your experience and insight touched my heart.
I’m thankful that contentment truly is a choice God makes possible!
Hi Julie! I am blessed that you stopped by and left a comment. God is so gracious to lead us to contentment when we draw closer to Him.
Beautiful truths here, Mary. Your father sounds like he must have been a wonderful, wise father. It seems like I had to be well into adulthood before I began to figure out what it means to live a life of contentment. I still struggle with choosing this during some seasons. I’m thankful for our Father’s grace as He draws us closer to Himself and refines us so we better reflect the image of His Son.
This: “It took my dad’s peaceful and calm persona to show me that contentment was acceptance, but it was also a deep trust in the One who orders our days and nights.” I needed this description of contentment!
My dad was wise but I didn’t always appreciate his wisdom as I was growing up. It is truly by God’s grace that I was able to open myself to all God wanted to teach me through my dad.
I’m glad my words resonated and know that contentment is ours to choose and live out.
This is such a timely post for me. I’m in a season where I’m being dragged out of complacency – I’m trying to go willing but it’s not easy. Thank for sharing these lessons. I will also ‘take the lesson and make it mine’. Blessings
Welcome! I’m glad to have you here today. Complacency feels safe and easy. What I am learning is that instead of building me up it brings me down because I am not looking to God for the next steps. I will be praying for you as you transition out of complacency.
Amazing how those lessons from the caregiving season keep on reverberating, but I guess that’s how God redeems all the hard things in our stories.
Thanks for sharing all the ways God is faithfully growing you, still!
Blessings to you, friend!
I love that God is not finished with me yet. I didn’t really “know” my dad until his last year. God is catching me up with all of the lessons I missed when dad was still alive. Thanks for being here.