Monday, February 21

Growing the good stuff [contentment]

My husband and I are in the middle of a project in our basement. The list of things to be fixed seems endless, but high priority is an itty-bitty mold problem. We all run screaming at the mention of dreaded mold. Mold requires 4 things to grow: spores (floating around everywhere), food (any organic material), appropriate temperatures (anywhere from freezing and up), and moisture. We have the perfect environment to grow it. Now let's get rid of it!

As I was scrubbing away at the stubborn mold that was clinging to the block walls of our basement, I thought about how THIS was the last thing I wanted to be doing. Talk about discontent. Why can't I just pay someone to come do this? Why doesn't my husband volunteer to do the icky job? This stinks! Did I mention it was icky?

Discontentment is like mold. It's easy to grow. It feeds on un-thankfulness spores and grows in our lives without any effort. From petty frustrations (scrubbing basement walls) to huge inconveniences (a car that barely runs), discontentment springs up in the normal environment where all humans live.

From research, I know how to get rid of mold. I even know how to prevent mold (spend a few minutes on the world-wide-web and you too can be this educated). But how do we prevent growth of the uglies of discontentment that lives inside our hearts?

I've always heard that praying for contentedness works! And it does. I've done it over the years when I dissatisfied with this or that. When I was frustrated with my tiny car = pray for contentedness. When I was fed-up with my husband's job = pray for contentedness. My circumstance didn't change, but my attitude sure did. I gave these things over to God and gradually (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly) my heart changed.

Philippians 4:6
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

This first step is like what bleach is to mold. Prayer gets rid of the ugly black spots on contact. Every time. When we are willing to have a change of heart. There are a bazillion (or 47,200,000) sites that tell me how to prevent the fungus problem in the basement, but they come to the same conclusion: change the environment. Make it impossible for the spores to grow. Go inside the heart and there is also something that can be done to prevent the discontentment from even starting to grow. It is buried in the verse we just read. Here it is again with the prescription for prevention in bold:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

I hear the Veggie Tales song here as Madame Blueberry is striving for contentment: "A thankful heart is a happy heart. Be glad for what you have it's an easy place to start."

All over Scripture we see this idea enforced:

Romans 1:21
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Giving thanks takes practice and is harder than just mentioning that it is a good idea. Each thing, good or bad, there is a positive spin. I can be thankful in everything, giving thanks and taking the effort to pray to the giver of all things. Even mold. "I'm thankful for a basement to work on. I'm thankful for the resources to tackle this project. I'm thankful my children are tucked in their beds 2 floors up, safely away from this mess. I'm thankful for answers to this problems and skills to take care of it. I'm thankful for my husband who is wrestling the hard and heavy tasks so I can get this small thing done." My thankful list could go on and on.

And while I'm being thankful I have no time to be discontent. The change in environment makes it impossible for those other nasty spores to grow. Good riddance.

* This post is inspired by my ongoing read of "One Thousand Gifts," by Ann Voskamp. Amazing how her encouraging words are helping me see my world in more positive, Godly way. 


Sara said...

Hard water stains in your toilets and now mold on the basement walls - you are sure doing a lot of hard core scrubbing lately! Good luck with the project and thanks for the reminders on how to be content in all circumstances.

Sherri said...

perfect analogy! I will think of it whenever I clean mold- a persistant problem here. My contentment will flourish:)