Day: August 30, 2014

The last few years, the Lord has used lessons about submission,
gratitude, and service to deepen and grow my sense of contentment. Those are the first three “building blocks” in this series.

A moving gif of blocks arranges itself into a smiling face.

The final block that completes the foundation for contentment is connection. What do I mean by that? Well, first of all: I mean real, honest, authentic relationships with other believers.I don’t mean the connections you make on social media (for the most part). Oh, I hope that my blog is a source of encouragement and reading it leaves you feeling bolstered. I hope that you have a sense of community in the feeds you follow on Twitter or Instagram. But in general, most of us get comparison —not connection— from our online worlds.

Comparison is a Thief

Comparison only serves to steal your joy and breed discontentment. Comparison leaves you feeling less-than. Comparison prompts you to narrow angry eyes at your stuff, your circumstances, your people, and your place.

Mrs. Potato Head packing Mr. Potato Head's "angry eyes" from Toy Story 2

Don’t pack your angry eyes, friends. Now if it’s true that comparison breeds discontentment, but connection fosters contentment… the question is, why?

Connection Halts Entitlement Thinking

I’d say it’s because living in a real community forces us to let go of pride and entitlement.I’d wager that in many of our lives, discontentment comes from a sense of entitlement. Your human nature tells you:

I deserve better than this.
I deserve better in my relationships – my husband, my kids, my friends… they just don’t appreciate me or treat me right.
I deserve better in my place – this house, this job, this town, this whole state – they aren’t up to my standards!
I deserve better from my stuff – I should really have a better car, fancier sunglasses, nicer shoes, a bigger TV.
I deserve better from my circumstances – I wasn’t made to live like this!

On the other hand, when you spend time and effort connecting with a group of believers, learning together and living out your callings together, you will grow in grace.


“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than ourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

Small Groups beat Packed Arenas

There’s a lot to be said about small groups in the Christian life. What I’ve seen in my own experience is that two big things come from connection: accountability and vulnerability.

When you’re accountable to a group of friends, fellow travelers on the journey, you first of all learn to recognize your own shortcomings. You own up to your sins, and your people encourage you in repentance and starting fresh with your eyes back on Christ. Guess what that does for your sense of entitlement? It smashes it WAY down to proper size. Accountability reminds us that we aren’t deserving of any of the blessings in our life – that all we have & do is such a gift. That reorients our hearts away from discontentment.

And secondly, the shared vulnerability of group living helps you to take a turn being the one served by others. (Remember in that last building block, when I talked about how service blesses us and gives us a contentment mindset? Well, here’s where the coin flips sides. Being served by others is sometimes also necessary to help us return to contentment.) There will be times when your connection to others puts them in a position to bless you – with words of encouragement or reproof, with service, with time or resources that meet your needs. In my life, I have always –without exception—found this experience to be both humbling and deeply loving.

Known and Loved

You see, I think human beings have a deep heart cry to be fully known. We want to be seen, and heard, and valued and cherished.The truth is, only God fully knows us right now. The glorious truth is that He knows every bit of us – even the ugly, imperfect, shameful parts – and He loves us anyway.

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”


1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT

Someday, the Bible promises us, we’ll have complete knowledge. Until then, I believe that connection with other believers is the closest we’ll get on this earth. Connection spurs us toward humility and love, it helps us avoid the comparison trap, and it puts our hearts in the right place.

And that’s the capstone of this little tower of contentment we’ve been building.

A pale blue sky with wisps of clouds is overlaid with text: #ContagiousContentment.

Which part of contentment is the biggest blessing or hardest struggle for you? Comment or tweet at me with #ContagiousContentment.

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In about three days, I’m going to be the proud owner of a formal dining room. (Technically, this house has a space which ought to be a  formal dining room. However, as Susannah tells it: “Remember how we used to have a school room? And now it’s a BOX room!”)

The previous owners painted the room pale yellow. The floors are a dark hardwood with grayish undertones, there are lovely french doors (facing east) and white trim, and a white-ish slightly shabby-chic chandelier. I love the white, the fixture is alright, and I love the bright natural light.

Front Door with Dining Room to the left

Dining Room

We probably won’t do anything with the room immediately. (I want to spend my pennies letting the girls repaint their new bedrooms (currently blue and bluer!) and furnishing the rec room & homework nook with storage solutions for all the toys and crafts.) But eventually, I need to create a dining room.

I’d like a pedestal (or double pedestal) table. Seating for at least eight. A china hutch with space to store both heirloom sets we own, and maybe? a sideboard/server piece as well.

I recieved my mother’s china and Chris’ grandmother’s china shortly after we moved to Owensboro. I’m a big believer in using our “nice things” to celebrate special occasions and everyday victories, so we do put these pretty pieces to use. I’m really looking forward to having a cabinet for display, though!

 

 

So here’s where I confess my decorating ineptitude. Chris suggested last night that he’d like a white dining table and chairs – “to match the chandelier.” I started looking around online, and found a couple of tables, but then this morning I realized that our white & platinum china would absolutely disappear against a white table and in a white china cabinet.
I’m leaning toward gray for the walls — it will need to be carefully chosen, though, because (as you can see in the top photo) the dining room is right off the front door, which is a rich deep brown and the entry walls are a khaki-tan color. I don’t want the dining room to look too yellow-gray compared to those. And the wall color needs to play well with the floor color as well.

A quick look on Pinterest brought me to this:

dining room inspiration

Maybe something like this would work. The table (as well as chair legs) are darker wood than those floors; the wood trim, light fixture, and upholstered chairs pop with white; and the two shades of gray feel cozy and welcoming.

What do you think? If you have a knack for decor, or if you spot something that just screams “Michelle!” you can send it to me on Pinterest or comment here. I pinky-promise, I’ll post photos when we finally get around to decorating our new dining room.

 

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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