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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Psst! The Secret of Being Content




by Susanne Dietze

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 everything through Him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11b-13

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Bloom Where You’re Planted?”

I’ll be honest; I’ve never been a fan of it. Probably because it’s been used on me from time to time when I haven’t liked my surroundings (physical, emotional, or spiritual).

I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve resisted blooming. I’m not talking about those instances when we’re in awful situations and we need to run, not walk, away. (I’ve done that, too.) But there are other times when God may have placed us in a particular place and time, city or neighborhood, difficulty or trial, because He has a greater purpose, and it’s our job to discern that call and obey it. Like it or not.

So it turns out “Bloom Where You’re Planted” may be good—even godly—advice after all.

In Hannah Hurnard’s classic allegory, Hinds Feet on High Places, little Much-Afraid embarks on a spiritual journey to reach the High Places described in Habakkuk 3:19, where she can be with her loving Shepherd. Amid her companions, Sorrow and Suffering, Much-Afraid passes through dangerous territory and hardship, meeting others along the way, including one little flower blooming all by itself in the heat of the desert.

Alone in a desolate land, the flower manages to be beautiful, even though it lacks company, abundant water, or hope for a change in scenery. Much-Afraid is amazed by the flower's beauty, and inquires the flower’s name.

“The tiny plant answered at once in a tone as golden as itself, ‘Behold me! My name is Acceptance-with-Joy.’”

Much-Afraid is moved. “Somehow the answer of the little golden flower which grew all alone in the waste of the desert stole into her heart and echoed there faintly but sweetly, filling her with comfort. She said to herself, 'He has brought me here when I did not want to come for His own purpose. I, too, will look up into his face and say, "Behold me! I am thy little handmaiden Acceptance-with-Joy."’

Judean Desert
Resistance-With-Grumbling would be a better-suited name for me. There hasn’t been a lot of joy on my lips when I’m in a situation I dislike, times I’ve felt utterly alone, without relief or the pity of sympathetic friends. I’ve asked my Shepherd, “Why did you put me here? Can’t I be somewhere else?”

But of course, I’m asking the wrong questions. It is far better to ask, “How can You use me here? What do You want me to do?” And praying, “If it’s Your will, I’d love some fellowship in this desert. But if You want me to be alone with You, so that I depend on You more deeply and trust You more, help me to become Acceptance-with-Joy.”

Contentment is a process of cultivation. It’s not a character trait or the result of circumstance. Our journeys will take us through a lot of places we don’t like: illness, financial strain, cliquish neighbors, dry friendships. But the secret of contentment doesn’t have anything to do with what we go through or where we are.

It has more to do with who we are and Whose we are. If we persevere in His strength, in union with our loving Lord and Shepherd, accepting His will with joy, we can cultivate contentment, too.

That’s a secret worth passing on.

Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book, http://www.susannedietze.blogspot.com/.

Photos courtesy of www.wikipedia.com, except for Hinds Feet on High Places, courtesy of www.amazon.com.

20 comments:

  1. Lovely reminder, Susanne. Also reminds me of the verse that says godliness with contentment is great gain. And I like the fact that Paul says he has learned it; it means there's hope for us grumblers!

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  2. This was really beautiful Susie. thank you. I really need to read that book. I know it's on my mother's bookshelf and of course I've heard of it for...forever.

    I'm wondering if it is on audio. That would be worth purchasing and listening to. Repeatedly.

    Have a blessed week in all your busyness! And I'm sending hugs.

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  3. This is beautiful and lovely. Thank you for the scripture reminder. Sometimes I only focus on the last sentence in that passage and, for whatever reason, never "see" the ones before. Like Deb, I've heard the title "Hinds Feet" but never read the story. It's adorable. Also like Deb, I'm praying for your busy week and sending hugs.

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  4. Good morning! I'm praying for all of you who are in the path of Irene.

    Barb, I find encouragement in Paul's use of the word "learned," too. It's a relief to know I'm not the only one who has had to work on this!

    I think I should work on encouraging others a bit more, as well. Thanks for the reminder.

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  5. Hi Deb! You know, I wouldn't be surprised if the book's on audio. There are a bunch of versions on amazon--with devotional, without devotional, kindle, etc etc. I have never seen a copy with a cover like the one in the picture, but every so often it gets reprinted, so that cover is one of many.

    Your mom was on my mind yesterday, so I think it's providential you mentioned her bookshelf today! Sending prayers.

    Is it raining at your house?

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  6. This reminded me of one of the reviews of my novel. The older (and I'm sure much wiser) reviewer had a lot to say about young women being discontent with their average lives and how dangerous that is. I confess, I never really thought about Dandelion's story in quite that way. It made me realize, I may still have more to learn from my own novel. LOL.

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  7. Boy, you're up early, Suzie! I'm still making my way through Coffee Cup #1.

    I would absolutely recommend Hinds Feet. There are some powerful gems in there. Allegories don't float everyone's boat, but I'm a visual learner, so I appreciate the images offered by allegories. During times of dryness, for instance, I have long pictured Acceptance-With-Joy in my head and then imagined myself as a flower in a desert. And I ask myself, am I joyful simply because I'm where my Shepherd has placed me?

    No, of course I'm not always joyful...but I'm working on it!

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  8. Excellent point, Dina. I think a lot of us (women and men) are conditioned to be consumers, and we spend a lot of time wanting more.

    But I also want more from relationships or situations, and I tend to take things (writing career, kids, friendships, etc.) into my own hands rather than give them to God. I stir my own soup discontentment.

    Yet God has given me so much. Why am I discontent with the blessings He's showered on me?

    How's your weather?

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  9. I'm still in Roanoke under sunny skies. Back home in Va. Beach we have a tree down, some flooding, and no power on my street. But since the area in general is doing okay, we'll be heading home after lunch. I'll be curious to hear how this one compared with Isabel.

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  10. Amen and amen. That scene from Hinds Feet on High Places has convicted me more than once in my life! But you are so right--contentment comes from knowing Whose we are. That never changes. Yet I need the constant reminder. Great words today!

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  11. I've found I'm more discontent with my life when I watch HGTV, the Foood Network, and the like. Why isn't my house like that? If only I could only cook like her.

    The other day Jerah and I were watching tv and saw a commercial for . . . well, it wasn't Jersey Shore but was some show like that. Jerah said, "Do you think people who live outside the US think that's how everyone here lives?"

    Sadly, I'm sure a lot of people do.

    Not to mention the number of kids who think *that's* real life. If only I could live in Laguna Beach.

    Uggh.

    The trappings of this world . . .

    Haven't you ever felt trapped by the stuff you own or by the desires you have? Yep, I'm guilty.

    Thanks for this post, Susanne! Beautiful and encouraging as always.

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  12. yes, raining and windy but nothing like east of here, Susie.

    Thanks for thinking of my mom. I just saw her and she's having a good day.

    Gina - yes and yes.
    Glad our Virginia girls are doing well. CJ may well be out of power but we know she's stocked up and prepared!

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  13. Boy did I need that word today.

    Thank you!

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  14. Thanks, Susie. I'm trying to relax and be more joyful and accepting.

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  15. Dina, I'm glad your neighborhood is doing ok. I imagine you're home safe and sound now. I hope the power comes back on soon!

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  16. Hi Anne! Thanks so much for coming by. I'm glad to hear you've been blessed by reading Hinds Feet, too. It is an inspiring (and convicting) book!

    You know, now I'm curious about the woman who wrote it. I guess that would be another blog post...

    Can't wait for your book release Sept 1!

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  17. Gina, I sometimes struggle when I watch HGTV too. Other people get inspired watching those shows, but I'll be honest--I become discontent sometimes. Or downright frustrated with my inability to transform my house into something TV-worthy. I have a bit of a complex in that area, LOL.

    I have too much stuff as it is. I need to simplify.

    Glad you and our other friends in VA were all right after Irene.

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  18. I'm wondering if your rain has picked up, Deb! I hope you're warm, dry, and cozy. I wonder if CJ has her power back yet? Hoping she's warm and cozy, too!

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  19. I needed it too, DeAnna. In fact, I should go back and re-read the whole book again!

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  20. Hi Lisa! I guess we all have to keep working on cultivating contentment. Perhaps we can encourage each other.

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