I have been thinking about a New Year’s Blog for a couple of weeks now and well nothing has really struck me until the other night. At dinner every night we try to have what is called a conversation starter card. Each card has a question to be answered by everyone at the table. One of the recent questions was this: ” Where is the most far away place you have ever been? What did you learn about God there?” We all thought and went around the table. As I started to quickly process what the boys might say and what I was gonna say the same word kept coming to my mind. Of course you all know the farthest the boys have been away is where we are now, Uganda. My thought though was two fold. The farthest I have been from the USA and the farthest I have now been from Jinja, Uganda. (Which by the way is America)! The same word still came to my mind. Contentment is my word. What I have learned about God in both places is that He is all we need. Contentment is a hard word to swallow even here in Uganda.
I remember my mother’s words a long time ago when Doug asked for her permission to marry me. Her first words, no lie, were “Can you afford her?” For Real……that is what she said. Now, in her defense, I will be honest in saying that as the baby in the family I was (and still am for that matter) quite spoiled. I have come a long way since then for those who have only known me a short time but even still I find myself sometimes in a state of discontentment. Sometimes I find myself complaining that the ants are too much or the lizard poop is insane today, or the house walls are cracking more. Some days it is the shower that I must live with or the fact that I just want to go to one store and get everything concept. Yes, I know these are not typical complaints, unless of course you live in a third world country. 🙂 Some days I have cravings that I of course cannot run out and solve, since you cannot find a Starbucks, a Walmart, or a shower with nice water pressure and no lizards here. I used to always have to have clothes that matched, I mean insanely match. (I had a serious problem). I have even worn brown shoes with a black outfit since living here……I know, but I told you it was bad. 🙂 Needless to say being content in the little things has not always been my strong suit.
I find that now, after living in Uganda over a year, I still had that same lesson when returning back to the states for a visit. It seems like no matter where I am I have to talk to myself and my kids about that word. Why are we not content to be content with God and what He alone puts in front of us. For some, you have to work but you want to be home, for some of us that have the great privilege to be at home, there are days when we wish we were at work. 🙂 For some, you have a great house but you want a bigger house, maybe you want a pool or more money. Maybe it is as simple as wanting a new outfit for a special event. Maybe it is as simple as you wanting anything to call your own. That is what I have found to be true since I have been living here anyway. So many people here long to have anything to call their own. What is interesting to me is also something my mom said while visiting us last year. While walking through a village, my mom stopped to take a picture. I asked what the picture was and it was of a lock on the door of a mud hut. Her words still ring in my ears; “This is what they have, to most of us it is nothing, but to them it is worth locking up.” (That is a paraphrase but it is the jest of her tears in that moment). Also so true. What if all you had was a mud hut with holes in it and maybe one small bed or small saucepan? Would you treasure it as a gift from God. The People that I have had the privileged to meet here have taught me so much by seeing their Joy in the smallest, yet biggest, gifts from God. They find Joy in Everything. Isn’t that what God calls us to do? Philippians 4:11-13. ” I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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 all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Now most of us can say we really do not know what it is to live in need or to even be hungry for that matter. I am not saying that we have to be there to truly understand the word contentment, I am saying that we are told to be content in whatever God has laid before us in that day. There were days in America when I sat back and thought how am I blessed with this family or this house or this car, even this church and there are days now in Uganda with much less that I still say how am I blessed with this family, this house, this car and most of all this church and these people that teach me so much about true Joy. A lot, in fact I would even say most, of the people we serve here have been hungry, thirsty, and very much in need of the most basic things. I would think contentment should be much harder for some of them that have not eaten or worse had not fed their kids in several days than for me who even in a third world country can’t even imagine that thought. Yet, even still, I (we) can always find something else we would like to have.
So for me the New Year brings a new level of contentment, at least that is what I am striving for and praying for. I am praying that not only for me but in my husband and in my kids. I pray that we are examples in contentment with God as much as some of those I have met here have been to me. I pray that my Joy comes from God and God alone and that I will take whatever He has given me and enjoy it while it is here and be ok with giving it as He leads. I pray that I complain less and count my blessings more for they are overflowing everyday! God is so good to His children and that in itself is more of a blessing than I will ever deserve.
Blessings and Happy New Year,