Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray
One of the hardest things about grief – is that it can feel all-encompassing. Mourning the loss of someone or something significant can feel all-consuming. However – most of the time – we feel grief and joy.
We are absolutely wrecked that they are gone, but glad their suffering is over.
Devastated they moved away, but excited for their new adventure.
We are glad for a new opportunity, but overwhelmed at the same time
These things can, do, and often will – occur at the same time. Joy and sorrow, happiness and despair, excitement and worry.
If we think contentment means getting to the place where we are only experiencing positive feelings, we will be constantly disappointed.
We need to accept that life is not so binary, not so black OR white.
I hope one of the books below can help you see that truth at a deeper level
You’re “DO THIS” for this week is a bit different. I really encourage you to read/listen to one of the following five books. They are memoirs/autobiographies by people who have lived through experiences that have forced them to reject the false notion that things are either all good or all bad. That contentment can – and often does – lie in the grey areas of life.
In no particular order….
- All My Knotted up Life – Beth Moore
- I Am Restored: How I Lost My Religion but Found My Faith -Lecrae
- Let Justice Roll Down – John Perkins
- Me, Myself and Bob – Phil Vischer
- Everything Happens for a Reason – Kate Bowler
All My Knotted up Life: A Memoir – Beth Moore
“I’d held the dying hands of perfect strangers. But only strangers are perfect. It’s the known ones that muddle.”
So to be honest, although I’d heard of, and about Beth Moore for years, I’m pretty sure I’ve never read anything by her (which I guess is not surprising since she spent most of her career writing women’s Bible studies for the Southern Baptist church). But what a story she has. Through all kinds of hardships – some from others’ bad choices, others medical, others hurt from inside the church – Moore has a seemingly unflappable sense of contentment.
I Am Restored: How I Lost My Religion but Found My Faith – Lecrae
“I came to this painful realization: I wasn’t devoted to God. I was devoted to my devotion to God.”
Just listing this book makes me want to go back and read it again. This is an unflinching and brutally honest look from a life that has known much suffering, hurt, success, acceptance, rejection, love, and everything in between. From a difficult childhood to trying to find a place in the modern evangelical church for himself, this story is powerful. For years I have found the lyrics of Lecrae’s music to be an incredible source of theology, and this book lets his life story fill in the gaps.
Let Justice Roll Down – John M. Perkins
“Yielding to God’s will can be hard. And sometimes, it really hurts. But it always brings peace.”
This one is actually a bit tough as it goes head-first into some pretty tough realities of the near past. Someone who has experienced so much hurt, hatred, contempt, anger, and injustice you would understand (and probably expect) to be bitter, jaded, and angry. Dr. Perkins instead tells a story of forgiveness, restoration, and grace. He found ways to rest in the contentment of his faith no matter what this world was putting him through.
Me, Myself and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables – Phil Vischer
“The Christian life wasn’t about running like a maniac; it was about walking with God. It wasn’t about impact; it was about obedience. “
This book is funny, poignant, and so insightful. It is a great read about how faith intersects with business and entrepreneurship ( years ago I used it as an assigned text in a university business class I taught) But the real lesson comes through when we see how someone can stand firm despite seeming to lose it all. Especially when the dream/calling is what you honestly think God wanted you to do. Vischer realizes that maybe working for God, and resting in God are not the same. We will run ourselves ragged working for him, but find contentment resting in Him.
Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved – Kate Bowler
“At a time when I should have felt abandoned by God, I was not reduced to ashes. I felt like I was floating, floating on the love and prayers of all those who hummed around me like worker bees, bringing notes and flowers and warm socks and quilts embroidered with words of encouragement. They came in like priests and mirrored back to me the face of Jesus.”
What happens when a Manitoba Mennonite, grows up, earns their PhD, studies the American Prosperity gospel, marries their high-school sweetheart, gets their dream job, and has a baby….. only to be diagnosed with terminal cancer at 35? This book. With what – at least to me – can only be a humble, but quirky Canadian-prairie sense of humour Kate Bowler pulls us along for an incredibly personal look at what you are left with when you think you are literally about to lose everything. The answer is contentment through faith. This is a great book.
Lord, may we learn from your saints,
others who have lived before us.
Mothers, sons, pastors, writers, professors, janitors, neighbors.
Those who live out a contented life because you are the center of it.
may we learn from those who live out their faith.
Give us eyes to see the beauty of a deeply, truly contented life.
Even the ones right around us.
Talk to you next Thursday!
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