As a girl, I remember my mother touching my hands gently, a reminder to sit still and stop nibbling my fingernails. She also calmed me down when I twirled and cart wheeled across the living room floor. I was an active, high-strung child, maybe a bit too active for her. As I grew older I settled down and nearly went into hiding. I was afraid to be too noisy, too showy, too much!

By the time I got to high school I was a shadow of my former self––fearful, anxious, lacking in self-confidence. College life presented new possibilities away from home and the watchful eyes of my parents and I welcomed each experience. I performed well in my studies, appeared in school plays, and even attracted a boyfriend. But still I felt discontent. Something always seemed to be missing.

Two weeks after graduation I married my sweetheart and within five years I was a mother to three children and the wife of a man who spent most of his hours working or studying toward a degree in law. I felt alone and restless even though my son and two daughters brought me many joyful hours. I continued to live on this plane until the year I turned 41—the year I met Jesus Christ, following a painful divorce and a health crisis.

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At that point I opened the Bible for the first time in my life, at the urging of a friend, unaware that it was the beginning of my personal journey toward contentment. My teachers and companions were writers who lived hundreds of years before I was born—but their wisdom in the Scriptures led the way, and it is with me still. I share their words here. Perhaps they will speak to you too, or encourage you to find the wisdom God has for you on your journey.

John 14:6

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This verse was the first one to capture my attention as I sat attentively in a bible study class on the Gospel according to John. I leaned forward, realizing in that moment that the personal relationship people had talked about and that I had no knowledge of or experience with, was now possible for me if I turned to Christ as my Lord and Savior and gave him my life.

John 10:10

My purpose is to give you life in all its fullness.

Today when I read these words I’m filled with peace—knowing that God has a full life for each of his children, so I shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed with any of it. He will be with me through each experience, teaching me what I need to know and leading me on the right path. I will never be alone––ever. I now have this verse in a frame on my desk and I read it several times each day.

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

This verse has seen me through many anxious moments—when my son lived apart from our family for two years, when my second husband lost his job unexpectedly, when my father was diagnosed with a long-term illness, and when a book I’d written was suddenly cancelled before the publication date.

With these words to guide me, I put my hope in the Lord, not in doctors or publishers or employers. I could not control illness, jobs, the result of my writing or my son’s choices. But God said he’d be present in all these situations and bring them together for the good of all concerned. (Romans 8:28).

Isaiah 46:4

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you . . .

Now that I’m an older woman with gray hair (and plenty of white, too) I know with certainty that God is still with me, holding on to me and keeping me close. I am one of his own. He made me and he will sustain me and even carry me if harm threatens me.

My journey toward contentment is still in progress. It’s a day-to-day walk, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, with plenty of pauses along the way for conversations with God, for praise and prayer, for smiles and tears, but always with a deep knowing that I am not alone, never have been, and never will be as long as I stay close to God through Jesus Christ.

“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).

Where are you in your journey? I’d love to hear from you.

 

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On the Road to Contentment — 16 Comments

  1. Thank you Karen for opening up your life for us to see how God has worked through your pain and difficulties. It helps others like me who are just a short jog behind you, keep going through the valleys and reinforces the importance of faith- trusting God and not “leaning on our own understanding.”

  2. Unlike your earlier beginning I was in church each Sunday (my Dad was the Minister) and was learning about the Bible in Sunday School classes. My parents never talked with me about joining the church but when I was about nine years old we were having a revival in Dad’s church and when the invitation was given at the end of the service for anyone who wanted to join the church to come forward. I started crying and I walked down and Dad took my hand. He simply asked me if I wanted to join the church. I do not remember anything else about the service, answering questions about believing in Christ, etc. but I just remember that I knew I wanted “to be a good girl”. I had no idea what it meant to be a real Christian nor what it meant or involved to be a church member-just wanted to ‘be good’. I have made many mistakes in my life and things I regret but I have always known that God would forgive me if I would let Him! I too, was a divorced woman and it really hurt in more ways than one. I never thought that would happen but it did. Life has not been easy but it has been good. Forgive me if I have shared this before: in one of our Sunday School lessons just a few years ago the writer suggested we write a Psalm and share it with the class. I thought that would be easy and I put my lesson book aside, got out my pen and paper and wrote the following: ” I know that my Redeemer liveth, He’s with me every day, tho sometimes I do not feel Him, that’s when I have gone astray. Some times I make bad choices and feel I’m going to fall, but thank God I have the assurance He will help me IF I CALL !” when I read it I thought it sounded rather juvenile and felt I could do better than that. GUESS WHAT? I thought and thought and then suddenly realized and said to myself, ” you ninny, those were not YOUR words, God planted them in your mind”! The next morning I was the only one who had written a Psalm out of a class of more than 30! They had me read it and I had to be honest and tell them that God wrote it for me.
    Karen you are such an inspiration and I realize more and more we have shared a lot of the same experiences and realize how very blessed we are that we found our relationship with God and He has helped us to hold on to His continuing love and presence regardless of our actions or our circumstances. I am still falling short of where I need to be but I know God will be with me always and always help me but I also know I have to LET HIM! I commune with Him each day and He will guide me when I keep my eyes on Him!
    Love and blessings to you and many thanks for sharing the story of your life!! You are indeed blessed! Margaret

    • Margaret, you always inspire me with your comments and stories from your life. Thank you so much.

  3. Another jewel from you heart to ours. Thank you Karen for sharing yourself with so many who need that encouragement ..
    “He’s my rock, He’s my fortress, He’s my deliverer. I Him will I trust.
    Praise the Name of Jesus.”

  4. Thank you for inspiring & encouraging me by sharing yourself & your journey. I am currently learning to live & sing again in the middle of my brokenness.
    Always appreciate your words.
    (Enjoying The Upside of Downsizing again too!) 😉
    Happy Spring!
    Smiles, BRC

  5. Dear Karen,
    Thank you once again for your heartfelt words of exhortation and inspiration. God has indeed given you a great gift for expressing some of His great truths through your own life experiences. Philippians 4:12 has always been a key verse for me, too. Its amazing how my own journey at times has parallled yours. Like you, I’ve also come to understand that knowing Jesus is the only source of my contentment. Sitting at His feet is the only place I want to be!

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