Calling, Contentment, Lindsay Harrel, Passion, The Difference Between Contentment and Complacency

The Difference Between Contentment and Complacency: Guest Post by Lindsay Harrel

Today, I’m so excited to have my good friend, and fellow aspiring author, Lindsay Harrel, on my blog. We met online and through My Book Therapy, and we met face to face last year at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas. Lindsay never ceases to amaze me with her depth of insight and her encouraging words. I’m thrilled she’s here!

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A few weeks ago in my Sunday school class, we were discussing contentment and one of my friends asked a question that intrigued me: Can we be content and still strive for our dreams?

It made me stop and really think, because I’m currently pursuing the dream of becoming a published author. Is it wrong to go hard after a dream? If I do, am I not accepting the life God has given me? Does it mean I am not practicing contentment? That I’m not grateful for the good things in my life?

In my opinion, the answer is no. I believe there is a definite difference between contentment and complacency.

Reading one particular definition for complacency was an “aha!” moment for me. According to princeton.edu, complacency is “the feeling you have when you are satisfied with yourself.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to be satisfied with myself. I want to always be improving, bettering myself, challenging myself to be more like Jesus. A complacent person doesn’t bother striving for dreams because she is “happy” as she is – even in her ignorance. Even in her sin.

A content person, on the other hand, knows that God called her to something bigger than her current situation – even if that means having a better attitude IN that situation or living it out with God at the center.

A content person is allowed to dream. She knows that God planted big dreams inside of her for a reason, and that if she pursues them, she is being true to who God created her to be. She has a peace in the pursuit – and she has a peace if God tells her “no” or “not right now.”

Contentment means delighting ourselves in the Lord and getting the desires of our hearts – because when we grow nearer to Him, His desires become ours. What He wants is what we want.

It means constantly seeking God and what He wants for us and from us.

Complacency, on the other hand, means we wait for God to come to us – and that we ignore the signs that He’s been there waiting all along.

Complacency is also waiting for life to change, but having no real hope that it will. It’s living life with no greater purpose beyond what we can see today.

But contentment – oh, beloved contentment – is praying with confidence for our dreams, and knowing that God’s plan is ultimately better.

Contentment, whether you are pursuing a big dream or a small one, means being at peace with whatever God gives us. It’s trusting God to be God – and being okay that we are not Him. It’s relinquishing control. It’s knowing that He knows best.

Contentment is not an easy path. Complacency is much simpler.

Complacency means not striving for a dream out of fear.

But contentment takes courage.

Take heart, friend, and strive for your dreams, knowing that the Lord who gave them to you will not forsake you. Have peace in the pursuit.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Your Turn: What dream are you striving for – and how has God spoken peace in your pursuit?

ImageBiography:

Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and editor. She is a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers contemporary category for 2013, and is published in the Falling in Love with You anthology released by OakTara in October 2012. Lindsay lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband of six years and two golden retriever puppies in serious need of training. Connect with her on her blog or via Facebook or Twitter (@LindsayHarrel).

Boot Camp, Calling

Boot Camp

This story is a couple years old, but I keep coming back to it in my thoughts, so I am sharing it with you today. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

ImageMy son is in “Boot Camp.” By his own choice. He’s six. Recently, he asked a family friend, who is an officer in the Marine Corps, what Boot Camp was. With a tease in his voice, the Marine described “Boot Camp” as: 1) getting up before your mother to clean the house for her, 2) standing at attention every evening to do what your parents want, 3) working hard, and I added keeping a good attitude. This concept of Boot Camp captivated his imagination! He wants to be a Marine now, and for the first couple of days he insisted he was a soldier.

The moment we arrived home that evening, he asked what he could do for being in Boot Camp. He made his brother’s lunch for school the next day, set the table for supper, and helped clear it afterward. Daily, he reminds me he’s in Boot Camp, and asks what he needs to do. He has maintained a great attitude and touched me with the purity and beauty of his service.

Though we are a few days beyond the introduction of this concept, he’s still excited about being in Boot Camp. To him, it is something special, a secret he’s only telling a few close friends. He is passionate about it, about serving selflessly, being a part of something bigger than himself, and about being a Marine one day.

This morning, as I spent time with Jesus, this question came to mind: “Jeanne, what about you? Are you in My ‘Boot Camp’?” Startled, I realized I have a lot to learn from my son’s heart attitude toward serving.

Where his has been one of delight and joy, my heart tends to serve more out of obligation, because “it must get done.” My son’s attitude toward serving our family has been one of willingness, even when he’d rather play. I serve willingly, but my heart sometimes complains. My son has practiced being disciplined to do the right thing when it needs to be done. Sometimes, I put things off because I want “a little ‘me’ time.” My son has kept an amazing attitude of respect towards his parents this week. For me, I catch myself “talking short” to the kids more than I’d like to admit.

As a wife and a mother, service is a part of my life. But, can I serve Jesus by serving my family with a heart that rejoices? Can I have the same purity and fervor my son has shown me this week? To do so, I need to re-align my heart with Jesus, identifying with Him and seeking Him. He has called me to be a wife and mother, which involves more than cleaning the house and cooking meals. Being in God’s army is a calling that is bigger than myself. It’s going to be tough, but I think I’m going to sign up for “Boot Camp” right now.

Your Turn: Have you ever had a “Boot Camp” sort of experience? What were you challenged to change?