“ I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
Throughout my young adult life, I’ve had many ups and downs financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Life throws unexpected curve balls, and we try to deal with them in the best way that we can. I know with myself, the minute something goes wrong, I freak out. My heart starts pounding, I’m full of FEAR, and I quickly try to fix the problem with every possible option I can think of. If that meant running away from it, then I would. I’m that person that wants things to work out, and work out now. I began seeing this issue in myself while I was enduring nursing school. I didn’t pass one of my classes and it was a huge set back in my program. I was ready to peace out of Tallahassee and move to Georgia. I had this genius plan to work a rinky-dink job and make ends meet, to eventually save up and go to the nursing school up there that I hadn’t even been accepted at, let alone applied to. I was trying to fix my problems on my own and play God. After multiple attempts to make this happen, he wasn’t letting this slide. There was no way I’d be able to transfer with those grades on my transcript to ANY nursing school. I didn’t have the money to move. And I was pretty much a train wreck on the inside, ready to break down any minute because things just weren’t coming together. To make a long story, short…I ended up staying in Tallahassee, graduated from that same nursing school, and took my first job as a registered nurse at a local hospital. I have now been a nurse for 6 months, I am completely independent, and its quite surreal!
The scripture above is something I wish I would have mounted to my wall going through this time. Financially, things were extremely difficult. I was working through school to make ends meet and thankfully my parents were able to help out a bit. Things were still tough though. I was dealing with the guilt of still needing their help, and also the fear of knowing that if an emergency came up, I had nothing. I was living in guilt and fear. Fear of not having enough. Fear of failing. Fear of not becoming. It controlled me and drove my spirt down into the drain. I would lean on the Lord a lot through this time. I had a good friend through nursing school who was a Godsend. We would study together, listen to worship music right before our tests, and pray for each other. We were both in similar situations. I wholeheartedly know we were in it together for a reason.I wish I could have been assured that no matter what I was going through, that God has it. He KNOWS what is going to be. And he’s going to bring me down the path to teach me what it is that he wants to work in me and my heart. I think the terms “having plenty” and “to be in need” can mean many different things. It can mean the physical state of hunger and wealth, or it can mean the emotional states of being loved and loneliness. “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
For the longest time I struggled with not having enough money and comparing myself to others. It is only by the grace of God that I was able to become content with my circumstances and realize that God has me here for a reason. I now find it easier to give because I know what it’s like to not have. Galations 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” I know what its like to just get by. I also know that “ just getting by” in America is considered wealthy in other parts of this world. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are in this together. I thank God for giving me understanding, and getting me to this place in my heart of contentment, ridding of the bitterness.
On a different note, I’m going to touch on being content despite emotions. To all my female friends, this one’s for you ;). I will be the first to admit that I am an extremely sensitive and emotional individual. My emotions get the best of me in every situation. I also feel that is why I am a very passionate person. I become very emotionally invested in all that I do. Creatively, professionally, and personally. There are many positive things about this trait. People truly feel you and see your efforts. The down side is that you can become very discouraged when someone doesn’t reciprocate or affirmation isn’t received. As women, God created us as emotionally in tune beings. We feel deeply, and every part of life affects us in all that we do at that very moment. When you factor hormones into the picture, that’s when you call the code. ( ~Nursing Joke ;)~ ) We are special. And we function the way we do for a reason. Our emotions can sometimes lie to us. They aren’t true. They can cause us to hurt. They can steal joy. One of the things that I struggle with the most is trying to discern how to deal with a situation and whether or not to have the feelings that I do from it. Should I be upset? Should I cry over that? Are these feelings true, of just my perception of the situation? It is so easy to get hurt by sin in this world. And by sin, I mean words and actions of the people you know and love, and by strangers. “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy…” Psalm 16:11. Joy does not come from these people. It is also not circumstantial. Joy comes from the Lord. And as hard as it is, we have the ability to choose it in ALL situations. Paul states that he can be content in ALL circumstances because of the strength bestowed upon us through Jesus Christ! He learned to focus on what he could do to serve the kingdom better than what he has or desires. I struggle daily with my emotions. When you factor relationships, family, work, and money into the equation, it is so hard to crack! I wear my heart on my sleeves and I am extremely vulnerable. I want to love and want to be loved in return. The reality I’m facing is that we’re all sinners. We all let each other down. We can also choose to build each other up in love.
Some of us have all the money in the world, and life may be good. And some of us have nothing, but a Savior. I would choose the latter. I want to be content in all of my circumstances. I want to have full confidence in God that no matter how much money I make, how my relationships work out, or how well I perform at work, that it is ultimately him who gives me eternal joy and contentment. I am putting all of this out there to show that the reason this scripture is written, is because God knew that we would struggle with this. He knew that through Paul’s words, he would comfort us and reassure us that through Jesus, we can be content in all that we do. Jesus wants that. He wants us to trust that he has us and that we are in hands during all situations. I don’t have it all together. I still cry over everything. I still compare. And I don’t have all of the elegant words to make this blog sound fancy and smooth. But I have a Savior who understands me and made me this way. He designed me to desire him and be content with him alone. By being satisfied in Chirst, we are able to put all things aside (emotions, money, lonliness etc.) and realize we were created to love, serve, and glorify him. Love it! I pray that our contentment and focus be in and on him!