Once upon a time, we’re at the beach and the wind is blowing. (Nothing new in Cape Town!) I don’t like the wind. I barely like the beach, because it’s made of sand, and the sea in Cape Town is made from ice, so you don’t ever wear a swimming costume to the beach, you wear a windbreaker. I want to go home. Heath suggests we walk down the beach, but I whine about the wind and we leave earlier than planned.
Once upon another time, we’re at home, and I’m bored. The couch is uncomfortable and there’s nothing on T.V. I want to go the beach and live a little. We should do more hikes and outdoorsy stuff, I longingly think.
Once upon a lunchtime, we’re having to make sandwiches because I haven’t really bought anything interesting grocery-wise and it’s a casual day at home. I wish we could go to the burger place down the road and then I wouldn’t have to do the tidy up afterwards, or do the he-doesn’t-like-the-crunchy-peanut-butter and he-doesn’t-eat-cheese juggling act that comes with people that live here. Or why can’t we braai more? We should braai more. Then we braai, and I’m reminded of the preposterous amount of times a woman has to go in and out of the house with the matches, the raw meat, the dishes, the braai tongs, another dish for the cooked meat, the cooked meat, a drink, and a knife, until I consider using the knife for something other than the braaied meat.
And I’m feeling really sad about some of the stuff we left behind in Zim. Don’t give me any credit, I’m talking about material things that I miss and wish we’d brought with, like cooking pots and couches (remember the couch being uncomfortable?) as we haven’t been able to replace them here.
Now you know why the title is Grumpy Old Cow. That would be me.
In summary, I’m driving myself crazy. I have begun to notice and be irritated by my consistent discontentment. Irritated by irritation, I know, the level of crazy is crazy. But as I’m becoming more and more aware of the discontentment that creeps into my attitude and sours everything, I am discovering nuggets of wisdom and wonder about this very subject.
My mind dwells on the scripture written by poor Paul, whose biography would read like a torture chamber with all the stoning, beating, shipwrecks and hunger (not even a sandwich) that went on, and at the time he was under house arrest in Rome:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11
He says, “learned” because it was a process, it took a while, it’s not natural. Yay, I feel a little better now, but geez, I have a lot of learning to do. But if there is a way to learn how to be content (not, happy, like, “Hey I’m glad it’s happening…” but, CONTENT *deep breath*) sign me up. Paul says it exists.
He goes on: 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. Philippians 4:12
Paul uses an unusual Greek word for the phrase, “learned the secret of being content,” so pay attention, scholars; the dude who’s been through everything is about to reveal how he can be content… and he tells us in the next verse:
I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.
Here it is on a man’s bicep. Hope he keeps the armpit hair trimmed so he can keep sight of the encouragement.
And here are some epic bikini wedgies coming right up.
And fit people who are fit because of Jesus.
Hmm, not really sure that Paul intended it to be used like that. If you take it out of context, you miss the secret to contentment, and I’ve missed it for so long. I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength. “All this” is very important to understand the context, and “strength” refers to HIS strength. I CAN thrive. I can maintain my internal composure, not because I’m strong, but because he gives me HIS strength.
I am meditating this year on this secret of contentment: “Christ in me, empowering me.” And I’m focusing on being thankful. Where thankfulness stops, discontentment begins. So I’m working on thanking Him for wind, sea and even sand, for downtime with my family on a lumpy couch, peanut butter sandwiches, and that second-to-none braai smell that carries on the wind (thank you again) and it’s not the neighbour’s boerwors- it’s ours! Thank You!
I pray God helps us to see those things that cause us discontentment as God sees them, and that we allow Him to empower us in those moments of realisation.
Happy 2018, friends and family.
May the lessons learned in the quiet or the chaos lead you closer to Him.
Lots of love,