Friday, April 12, 2013

Staring down the sky (an exercise in contentment)


Photo 52, Week 15:  Self-Portrait

Me, staring down the sky.
Because I heard they were predicting this.


So my little intimidation technique didn't work.
Now you know I have no pull with the sky.  Whatsoever.


(Nor with my son, who started dressing out of his summer drawer when it hit 50º
and isn't about to turn back because of a few measly inches of snow!)


The cardinal had a few things to say about it.


But you know what?  I remembered a lesson I learned a long, long time ago.  I was living overseas, after a long series of frustrations including some really depressing weather.  I remember clearly one day making a choice to throw myself a pity party.  I deserved it.  Life was hard.  I was misunderstood and living in some pretty challenging conditions, and well, who could blame me for taking a break from wearing my happy face?  Wouldn't people rather have me be honest?  So I did.  I gave in to discontentment.

1 Timothy 6:6 says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." In my misery of that little chapter of my life I learned the flip side of that statement:  "An appearance of godliness with discontentment is a great loss."  You know, we all have our moments.  I have no problem being honest about that.  But in that season, I had to carry on.  I kept doing my thing, and I don't wear a grumpy face that well, so I'm not really sure that anyone else even noticed.  But my heart was a little hard, and my attitude stunk, and truly, it was a great loss.  Everything is just that much harder when we make that choice.  

I'll tell you who I didn't invite to my pity party.  God.  Why would he come to my pity party?  Why would I want him at my pity party?  If I faced him, I would have to face the truth of my situation, that my problems were trite, and my expectations unfounded.  The sad thing is that I would have found him compassionate and able to produce beautiful things in the midst of my circumstances if I hadn't crossed my arms and looked away in a huff.


Good things were born out of that season.  In fact, such good things that I doubt I would go back and reverse that bad choice if I could.  I learned that contentment is the idea that there are many ways to be happy, if I will just open my eyes to God's gifts to me in that moment.  Discontentment is the idea that I can only be happy if _______.  We are bombarded with that message every day in this consumer driven society of ours:  you couldn't possibly be happy without the latest iGadget, etc.  Endless.  A guarantee that if we buy into it, we will never, ever be happy.  When I experienced the great loss of discontentment I learned to recognize the lie--but more importantly, we've been careful to teach our kids the truth. 


So sky?  I may have shaken my fist at you in contempt,
but I refuse to let you keep me from being content.
I have some cheerful friends to help,
beauty to find if I'll look for it.
Summer is on the way.
There is no guarantee it will be nice.
Still, I am choosing contentment.  I am.

Note:  Interestingly, I have been reading a lot lately, and thinking along the topics of brokenness and depression for a number of reasons.  Talking about choosing contentment is not the same as saying to a broken or depressed person, "Cheer up." That is a different story.  While I am no expert on these topics, I may have to process them here one of these days.  Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Excellent, Tracy! Appreciate you and our friendship so much!


Tracy P. said...

Thank you Carla!

Deanna said...

Beautiful post, Tracy. Sometimes we have to go thru some discontent to appreciate the contentment. Absolutely stunning pics of the cardinal and the daffodil. Giggling at your son in shorts in the snow!!

HJ said...

Oh, Tracy - I love every single one of these photos!! And your words are every bit as beautiful as your photos!! said...

I like your photos all.