This is a guest post by Shereen Marcus - who works as an attorney for the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and also volunteers in the children’s program at St. Timothy & St. Athanasius Church. You can follow her on facebook here. And if you're interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
A typical Saturday morning in our house includes my two young boys (incapable of sleeping past 7 am) fighting over who gets to do something first, who plays with what toy, who gets the blue plate at breakfast, or something like that… I admittedly started tuning them out. Meanwhile, in my room, I’m washing my face and making frown-y faces in the mirror remembering what I looked like in the “good ole days” (in actuality, I was unhappy with the way I looked back then too). My husband is similarly groaning at the fact that it’s so early … on a Saturday.
I volunteer in the children’s program at my church where we have been discussing contentment this month, so the topic has been at the forefront of my mind. Specifically, what’s robbing us of our contentment?
Maybe the answer is totally obvious to you. Maybe the better question is: in a society where we are constantly told to accumulate more stuff, cling to our youth by any means necessary, and shun all carbs for the sake of our waistline, is contentment really an attainable goal?
To quote one of my favorite authors, Kay Warren, from her book Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes to God:
If we’re not disturbed by the world in which we live, we will be consumed with the trivial, the insignificant, and the temporary. We will spend our days pursuing all the wrong goals, living by the wrong measurement of success, evaluating our legacy by the wrong standard.
DISTURBED BY THE WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE...
A man named Daniel was disturbed by the world in which he lived. He is best known for surviving a night in a lion’s den. Long before he survived the lions though, as a young man, he was taken from his home and forced to live in a place called Babylon. This place was where people worshipped pagan gods and their motto was “I am and there is none besides me.” Isaiah 47: 8, 10. But Daniel “purposed in his heart” that he would not defile himself (see Daniel 1:8).
There is an underlying theme in the book of Daniel of a deliberate choice he faced on a daily basis: to be a Babylonian or to be a child of God. Babylon was an affluent and luxurious town with the best technology, food and entertainment. Once the Jews were forced to live there, most of them slowly began to blend in. They made Babylon their home. Daniel, on the other hand, was different; everyone knew Daniel was not a Babylonian.
Daniel was seriously disturbed by the world in which he lived, and consequently he lived a life of joyful contentment.
I believe this deliberate choice is the ultimate key to contentment: are we pledging our citizenship in Babylon? Or are we remembering that we are not citizens of this world at all?
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20.
A Babylonian for many years, I know firsthand the repercussions discontentment brings. It is easy to be engulfed by the wrong standards when you lose yourself to the world.
In my life, God staged an intervention for my own good. Through various painful experiences, God started a transformation process that changed my life. I awoke to the lies the world sells us and the devil gladly encourages us into believing. I became acutely aware of how miserable everyone around me was too. How is it that a country that prides itself on endless opportunity, open market, and democracy, houses some of the most miserable citizens in the world? Because Babylon lies!
I became utterly, and seriously disturbed. This meant war! Being determined to reclaim my contentment in all things God has given me, I formed a plan and a heavenly deal with God. Show me what to do Lord, and I will do it.
While still a struggle for me, whenever I get dragged into discontentment, I try to remember Daniel. I try to remember, reject, and even be disturbed by the lies the world sells us. Above all else, I try to remember my true citizenship; that I am not a Babylonian.
LADIES: If you want to hear more on this topic, please join me on Saturday, November 8th at 11 am at St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church in Fairfax, VA for a special event entitled "A More Beautiful You" where we will unravel the lies the world tells us. Check out LIFT (Living in Faith Together) on Facebook for more information.