Peace, Happiness & Contentment: What does it really mean to be content?

Peace, Happiness & ContentmentI remember the first time I experienced true peace and contentment. I had a joy I couldn’t really explain, to the point where I would cry happy tears. I had never felt such a pure sense of happiness. The most interesting part of it all was that I never knew I wasn’t truly happy until I experienced those moments of unexplainable joy. I would walk through my days feeling like I was floating. I smiled a lot and it felt like I had this radiance, this glow. I was at peace. I was content with my life.

This is not to say that the moments of happiness I’d experienced beforehand weren’t real, but I think it was moreso temporary happiness. The happiness you feel on your birthday when everyone shows you love. The happiness you feel when you get a new car or when you accomplish something great. The happiness you feel when good things happen. But the joy I described above – that was rooted in something bigger than myself.

See, when I finally reached that place of true contentment, it was after a storm. A storm that started years before I even realized I was in a storm. I had so much to work through that I just hadn’t taken the time to process. I was not ready to leave my old life behind and I for sure wasn’t excited about my new life that was coming. To move back in with my parents, go to a school I didn’t particularly like (when I had other options), leave all my friends behind, have to find a new church home when I loved the one I was attending, and have to find a new job when I also loved the job I was working – everything was changing all at once and I struggled with that.

When I did moved back home, I dealt with a bit of post-graduation depression. I would cry for no reason and I regretted the decision to move back. I kept trying to run back to what He was trying to free me from. I made bad decisions that I can never take back and I still to this day can’t tell you why. Unfortunately, it was one of those bad decisions that led to me to reflect on everything. Why would I do something that went against what I valued? Why was I so unhappy? Why do I keep trying to run back to what was bringing me down? And the answer was brokenness. Discontentment. A lack of trust in God. I had been hurt and disappointed over and over without ever giving myself a chance to heal and grow from those situations. I would seek love in all the wrong places. I would chase it when God just wanted me to be still. I brought a lot of that hurt onto myself.

I remember having that revelation one morning during my commute to my new job. I was listening to the song Free by Kierra Sheard and it brought me to tears. “You can be free from bondage and healed from brokenness and full of joy – Be Free.” God delivered me from toxic environments and toxic people. He did His part. He was just waiting on me to stop focusing on what I had lost and what I didn’t have and start focusing on what He was trying to do in me at that moment. He was trying to do a new thing in my life but I just wanted my old life back. He had to deal with me and I finally opened my heart to let Him. I like to refer to that process as Him delivering me from Egypt and taking me to the Promise Land flowing with milk & honey.

It was on the other side of that storm that things started to get better. But despite all of the blessings that God has provided, I received something so much greater from the whole process – I learned what it means to be content. To be happy where you are and with what you have. I underwent a process of healing but vowed to never go back to that broken place filled with temporary expressions of happiness. In my new season, I was able to meet a guy and not push my own agenda. I was able to be rejected for opportunities and say “it must not be in His will”. I was able to experience disappointment and still trust the process. I was able to stand face to face with people who had hurt me and not feel resentment. I was able to smile even when I didn’t have all that I desired. Contentment requires a spirit of gratefulness for what you already have and an appreciation for what you’ve overcome.

Yes, there are still so many things that I want for myself: I would love for my future husband to show up and take me to the altar. I can’t wait to love on him after our wedding and eventually make little humans with him. I would also love to purchase a home and live off the water somewhere. I could go on and on, but if we aren’t happy with what we have now, we still won’t be happy with more. It can be easy to allow our happiness to stem from the things of this world, but people and situations change. I want my happiness to remain steady regardless of the circumstance. We must learn to shift our gaze from what is temporary to what is always constant – never changing. I choose to focus on God because He is the one being who will always be there. My happiness is not rooted in anyone or anything else. And although I’ve fallen away from that place of true contentment, I’m slowly but surely getting back there.

Sometimes we get so caught up on whats next that we forget to enjoy our now. We want that promotion before we’ve even learned all there is to learn in the position we’re in. We want to move to another state before we’ve even accomplished our mission where we’re at. We want that next boyfriend/girlfriend before we’ve even had a chance to heal. We want that first love before we’ve even learned how to be happy as a single. It’s a never ending cycle and we forget to appreciate the process. There is so much to be done right where you are and we miss out on the beauty of it all when we let our desires rush us. There is so much to be thankful for right now. Stop letting what may or may not happen steal your joy.

Then there’s our past. We’ve lost things. We’ve made mistakes. We have regrets. But when one door closes, another door opens. Also, we are forgiven for our mistakes. All we can do now is forgive ourselves and start to move forward. If someone else hurt you, forgive them, too (my next post will be about forgiveness, so stay tuned). Don’t allow your past hurt to hold you hostage and prevent you from being happy.  Whatever has gone wrong in your past, you don’t have to allow it to keep its grip on your life. You can be free. You CAN be free. You no longer have to operate in your past. It is a new day and the best has yet to come. You are not who you were yesterday. Life is too short to allow what happen last year, or even last night, to keep you from living today like it’s golden. Don’t remain bound by your past. Get your healing. God might be trying to take you to your next level.

We don’t know what’s to come and we can’t change what has already happened. All we can do – if we really want to be content – is learn to love our now. We should be living everyday like it’s our best day. If we wait for the “right time” to live our lives like they’re golden, we’ll be waiting forever. We will always want more, need more and wish certain things were different. There will never come a time where all the pieces align perfectly. But when we put our hope and trust in God, we can be confident that He will work everything out and provide all that we need. We can find peace in knowing that He is looking out for us.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34

-Jourdan Janae 
A woman after peace

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