Finding Contentment . . . Again
I'm better now, but a few weeks ago I could feel myself sinking into a dark hole. I could blame it on the yucky January weather, or post-holiday doldrums, or lack of energy, or a feeling of being directionless and unmotivated. All of those were true, but the Connie I feel that I am deep inside and the Connie I want to be was somehow being squelched, and I didn't like it. I am a glass-half-full girl . . . most of the time. What was I afraid of? What did I want that I didn't already have? Where were my smiles? Besides myself, Steve may have been the only one who really noticed what was happening, but I knew I wouldn't be able to hide it much longer.
For years now, I have told myself that I refuse to become a bitter, sad, miserable old lady and that I would do whatever it took to avoid it. My daughter even gave me a book several years ago (probably for my 60th birthday) with some great tongue-in-cheek remedies for staying away from that state of being.
Several things happened to help me climb out of the pit.
1. Our pastor preached from Philippians 4, with specific emphasis on being content. Apostle Paul writing to the Philippians (verses 10-13) said, "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." If EVER a person could be justified in feeling discontent, it could have been Paul. Yet, he had found contentment in/through/because of all the trials he faced.
2. I listened to my son Matt's sermon on dealing with depression, the 2nd in his 3-part series based on Psalm 23. In this message, he zeroed in on verse 4. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
If you have 30 minutes, I highly recommend it. I particularly loved his explanation of the shepherd's rod and staff and his suggestions for phrases to pray when you're having a hard time verbalizing what you desperately need from God. Here's the link: https://westfranklinchurch.com/media/sermon/dealing-with-depression
3. Steve asked me to teach the lesson about Queen Esther for our life group. The phrase in Esther 4:14 grabs me every time. Mordecai said to Esther: "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Perhaps the application for me was that maybe I was at this turning point in my life (or at least this year) for a good reason and if I stayed mired up and directionless, God couldn't use me for the purpose He had in mind.
4. I made the conscious decision to forgive someone I felt had wronged me. No need for further details, but it was very important for me to do this. I didn't have to confront or accuse. I just needed to forgive.
5. I got to laugh with and be ministered to by my good friend, Kay Dekalb Smith. Kay was invited to be the speaker for a women's luncheon at my church. If you've never heard her, do yourself a favor and invite her to your church or go to a place where she's scheduled to be. Her website is https://kaydekalbsmith.com/
6. I cleaned my house, baked a pie and invited some friends over. It's always a good thing to give my house a good cleaning. And even with January diet resolutions, a pie was simply required. :) It felt good.
7. I dug back into writing, blogging and planning my travels for the year. Now, I have some wonderful stories to write and trips to take. It's always a good thing when I have fun events on my calendar. And, by the way, while doing destination research, I found this excellent promotional video produced by Experience Kissimmee called "Finding Whelmed." In it, the idea of "being whelmed" is explained. Not overwhelmed or underwhelmed, just whelmed. In a place where millions of people visit the theme parks every year, it is easy to get overwhelmed while on a vacation, but the folks in Kissimmee want their visitors instead to be whelmed. I think it might be another word to use for "contentment." https://www.experiencekissimmee.com/finding-whelmed
So, I guess when I think about it, the remedies for my bad mental state were these: 1) I let God's Word penetrate my heart. 2) I deliberately interacted with people (always guaranteed to provide perspective). 3) I got busy doing things I enjoy.
One more passage for the sake of proper perspective -- 1Timothy 6:7-8 (in the Message paraphrase) -- "Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough."
What remedies have you found to help in times like this?
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