Finding Contentment in the Struggle {Guest Post at the Unbound Blog}

Finding Contentment in the Struggle

Do you ever feel stuck, dry of joy, just going through the motions of mundane life, day after day, wondering when the cycle will ever end?

 

Sometimes I do too.

 

Last week, I got the chance to write for my college’s student life blog. As much as the post applies directly to Lumerit students — (Lumerit is an accelerated distance learning program for people pursuing a college degree) — I’ve been learning a lot about what contentment means.

Not just as a student, no — as a person, a Christian, a girl trying to make her way in the world.

Here’s an excerpt from the post, and a peep into my current musings on the subject:

And slowly, slowly, through the ruts, the challenges, the pain, the stress – I’m learning that contentment starts in the little moments. That if I’m depending on my next achievement to make me content, I’m missing what contentment is: joy right where I am.

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Embracing Seventeen

Embracing Seventeen.png

i.

 

I turned seventeen this past Sunday – on April second, two-thousand seventeen.

 

If you don’t know me personally, you may not have known my age until now.

 

And it’s not as if it’s a secret – I simply decided a while ago that I didn’t want people to judge me or my writing on my age alone, or have to try and explain when I mention school that I’m a college student, even though I’m supposed to be a high school student, and kind of still am for a few more months.

 

(See? Complicated.)

 

But something hit me really hard last week. I was talking to some college friends, and coming to the realization that the average age of the majority of my friends is around twenty years old.

 

And it’s funny – because I joke about it all the time, the fact that I forget that I’m not twenty, myself.

 

But it’s more than just a joke.

 

After spending almost an entire week discussing everything under the sun with a dear friend, a friend that’s my own age, I realized how important it was that I don’t forget that I’m only seventeen.

 

I’ll only ever be seventeen once.

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Where to Find Hope in Pain

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I probably don’t have to tell you that life’s really tough, sometimes.

 

I’ve done so many posts about pain – about depression and anxiety, about feelings of hopelessness, about when life throws things at us that we’re not ready for, about what we’re supposed to do when we literally have no idea what to do.

 

Life’s messy.

 

Painful.

 

Confusing.

 

And my first reaction, honestly, is to go hide away in my room and look for a distraction.

 

It’s awkward to admit that, but it’s true. I want distraction over comfort, desperate feelings over peace, extremes over hope.

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Hope For When God’s Promises Seem to Be Hidden by Pain

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Often, I’ll look around me and see those people that just seem to have everything so together.

 

Whether online or face to face, there are always those people that simply seem to have life down. They’re walking around, living life, and gently saying things like, “Oh yes, I trust God,” and “Of course I can feel how much God loves me,” and “I am so content, no matter what.”

 

And seeing those people like that…it’s so inspiring, yet oftentimes so intimidating.

 

Because it’s easy for us to say, or at least for me to say, “I trust You, God,” when life is simple.

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How to Satisfy the Human Desire for Love, Joy, and Fulfillment

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Humanness.

 

There’s something so interesting about being a human being, living in this seemingly endless series of experiences and emotions, events and times of extreme joy and extreme pain.

 

Life is so beautiful, and so fragile, and we can be so sensitive to all of it.

 

I know I am.

 

I’ve noticed this pattern in myself and those around me, of being caught in this awkward middle place of knowing that the Christian answer is that only Jesus can satisfy me – and yet still chasing after these things that I’m sure will bring me happiness.

 

Because deep down, we all have these intrinsic desires in our hearts. And they’re not wrong at all. Unlike Buddhism, which says “All life is suffering, and suffering comes from desire; therefore, rid yourself of desire,” I say, no, we should keep on desiring.

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Why I Never Made a Future Spouse Checklist (And Things to Consider Before Making Yours)

Why I Never Made a Future Spouse Checklist (And Things to Consider Before Making Yours)

Happy Saturday, everyone. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been on somewhat of a relationship-topic kick lately. When We Feel Unworthy of Being Loved, Crushes + True Love: Twenty-Seven Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Twelve, and random posts I’ve been stumbling across online have gotten me thinking about what love truly is.

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A Fresh Look At Positivity

A Fresh Look at Positivity

 

In this world, we hear a lot about positivity. We hear people tell us to not let the negativity of others affect our attitudes.

 

That’s a powerful message.

 

People say that we should keep our heads up because ultimately, whatever we want in life, we’re going to have to work for. So if we want to accomplish our goals, we must not let anyone deter us.

 

We must be positive. See the glass half-full.  See the sky as always sunny. And move on from gloom as quick as we possibly can.

 

The positivity message tells us to just keep swimming, because it’s gonna be alright. Don’t worry; be happy. And I do believe happiness is good, but we should have a reason for it.

 

What I want to know is this. In a godless world, how can we be happy? How can we be positive? How can we know that life really will go on? How can we accomplish what we want to when it seems absolutely impossible?

 

Forgive me for being blunt here, but this is where I see that the positivity message cannot hold up.

 

Positivity does not offer lasting hope. But Jesus does.

 

Positivity is a form of self-empowerment: If you think it, you can do it. And that’s not all bad, truly. Sometimes the only thing we need to keep going is faith in ourselves and perseverance because we already have everything we need to do it.

 

Sometimes, when everyone around us is cutting us down with discouragement, we need to be the ones to step up and say, “Hey, look. The end is in sight. We can make it.” Pressing on toward something is valuable.

 

So the question is not, “Should we be positive?” but “How can we be positive?”

 

For me, having a good attitude by just “trying to” is like trying to sing or speak without taking a breath. Pulling the positivity card out of nowhere has no depth to it, no standing, because it becomes just words.

 

But it doesn’t have to be.

 

The missing message of positivity is this: we can have joy in every situation.

 

Philippians 4:12-13

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

The secret to facing anything is doing them through the strength of Christ. That’s what gives us joy. That’s what lets us go on when things seem impossible. That’s what propels us through the times when we feel like giving up.

 

Not putting on a mask of happiness, but living it.

 

Positivity is something we can only truly grasp when we experience the joy of the Lord.

 

Nehemiah 8:10b

“And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 

The joy of the Lord. Not the joy of nice things, a good relationship, a happy circumstance, no. This joy is knowing that we are loved. Knowing that His grace is lavished on us. The guaranteed assurance that we are new creations in Christ. Our pasts are not counted against us.

 

And we know this all because we have seen the cross. We have seen who Jesus is in the Bible. We have felt his presence in our lives. We have known His power.

 

And so the simple message of positivity just seems so shallow. “Be happy.” Okay, yes, but why should I be happy?

 

Because we are loved with an everlasting love by our Creator. We are treasured. We are provided for. We are never left on our own. And we are definitely never forsaken or forgotten about.

 

To be truly positive is about so much more than just feeling something – it’s what we can live in as Christians.

 

And that kind of positivity is the best of all.

 

*aj