Sunday was my day of contentment. It was all I seemed to hear all day. Like one of those weird music videos where everyone all around you is mouthing the same word. (Maybe that’s just a freaky dream I’ve had?) Either way, it was exactly what I needed to see all those people mouthing. My husband shared in front of the church about a he’s been part of here in San Francisco. He’s been a sort of mentor/coach for another man making the transition from a local rehab facility to the working world. Chris is great in front of people. But I never get to see him speak all that often. So when he does I’m a nervous wreck. Sunday morning I said, “Are you ready? Are you nervous? Do you feel prepared?” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Micha…I’m fine.” He was. He was perfect. Funny and interesting. Humble and genuine. Wise.
It’s funny how little I know, how frantic my spirit can be. In the sermon that morning, one of our pastors, , spoke about the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry in the book of Matthew: light dawning in the midst of darkness. He spoke of darkness as our “moral confusion” and light as believing God when he says to us: “You are my beloved.” He reminded me that Martin Luther called believing our belovedness as “preaching the gospel to yourself.” I thought back to this last week, especially, when I felt so incredibly pitiful about myself. What does it mean to preach the gospel to myself when I’m a pathetic pregnant woman, longing to write #FAIL after every attempt at meaningfulness in my day?
It means I speak what’s true: I am God’s beloved, not based on my health, my success at motherhood or potty training, my coolness, my ability to be well-read, my compassion, my worth in the lives of the broken around me. I am God’s beloved because of the gospel, because of Jesus Christ.
(YOOBS, we call ourselves. Don’t ask.) came over Sunday night to study 1 Timothy, chapter 6 with me. It’s a passage that mostly deals with the pursuit and love of money versus real contentment. I passed around computer paper and August’s crayons and made them all write: “Contentment is…” and “Contentment is not…” Then we filled out our pages with words and phrases. Kaili drew a picture of her stick figure self rooted and secure under the contentment heading. Her other self was frazzled and unsteady.
I can’t get that simple image out of my head. Contentment is so many things. But I know that for me right now, it’s rootedness, security. And that security comes not from my rest winning over my exhaustion, or my success as a mom giving me some sense of worth. No, my rootedness is going to come from my belief that God loves me in spite of my failures. More than that: He loves me deeply in the midst of them and holds me up because of them. Plus, he really is sorry that it hurts so bad to be pregnant.
Sunday morning we sang one of my favorite hymns of all time: “It is Well”
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
My life is not difficult, but I’m still a wimp. And today is Thankful Tuesday. So my prayer is this: let me be grateful that contentment is not a matter of circumstance. It’s a matter of rootedness and steady beauty.
I’m thankful that I need the gospel everyday: I am a failure but I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved… It will also cover contemporary thinking in resilience, social-ecological systems, and the overnightessay.co.uk relationship of nature to human and community wellbeing