Well, we’re in what my relatives used to call the dog days of summer. I think they were referring to the heat. I know my dog is pretty uncomfortable about now, and so am I. We both sit around a lot when the temps and the humidity climb.
I caught myself starting to complain about the weather the other afternoon as I stood sweating in our back yard. But then a funny kind of time travel happened, where I was transported for a moment back to this past February. I stood in the same spot, shivering despite being wrapped in about five layers of clothes. And guess what? I was complaining about the weather.
Never happy, are you? I thought, amused. Just for fun, I tried to imagine where I could live where the temperature would be perfect for me all the time. But all the places that came to mind had some flaw – if it was warm all year it was also humid, or the insect problems, or how it would be in the middle of nowhere with no wifi, etc. There was no ideal place, even in my fantasies.
In the past that realization would have left me discontent. I guess I’ll have to stick it out here (Can’t you just hear the sigh in my voice?!). But I was really causing my own misery. Because instead of simply indulging in a little wistful daydreaming, I believed I ought to be living in a perfect spot right now. Having to make due with less was unfairly difficult and tiresome.
What prideful thoughts! But even after I knew better, I struggled with letting go of that mindset. I read the Apostle Paul’s testimony in Philippians 4:12 – “I have learned the secret of being content…” – and my spirit would rebel. To me, “content” meant forcing myself to be happy settling for less.
Now, ‘contentment’ means a sense of peace about where I am. How did I have such a big turnaround? It sure didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t come from me. Paul also wrote that we are to be transformed, and the tense he uses indicates that it happens to us rather than by us.
God revealed more and more to me about His love and provision, and drew me into a closer relationship. Over time, my focus began to shift from me-centered to Him-centered. And as I began to fix my gaze on God, earthly circumstances didn’t matter quite so much. I felt more secure even without everything on my list of wants.
Paul went through that shift, too. The secret of being content is something we can all know and use daily – loving and trusting God. It’s that simple and that challenging. Weather conditions are just a small aspect of life. But if I can embrace contenment during both dog days and cold spells, I’ll be on the right track!