I wish I were...

By Debbie Wright | 15 February 2016 | Comments (4)

I wish I were... - a blog by Stewardship

 ‘I wish I were……’ is probably one of the most destructive phrases any of us can think or utter.  And unfortunately for all of us, Christians included, it can insidiously creep in, throwing seeds of dissatisfaction into every area of our lives.  '…slimmer, fitter, richer, wiser, younger, more popular, talented, confident, focused…' - the list goes on and on.

And dissatisfaction nearly always comes along with its cousin - comparison.  A successful Times columnist wrote that her New Year’s Resolution was not to buy any more glossy women’s magazines.  Peering into other women’s wonderful lives, careers, beautiful homes and talented children always left her disheartened and suddenly unhappy with her own lot in life.  My 19-year-old daughter has closed down her Instagram account and rarely visits her Facebook page. She said, ‘Even though I know my friends only post good things about their lives, somehow scrolling through their fab holidays, exciting parties and celebrated achievements just ended up making me feel low, inadequate and depressed, when I needn’t feel that way at all.’

So, how do we rid ourselves of dissatisfaction and comparison? We know that Jesus says come to me and I will give you rest, but how does that actually work out?  Paul gives us a big clue in his letter to the Philippians:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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 4:11-12, NIV

In all his different circumstances, Paul has learnt to be content.  The key word here is ‘learned’. Contentment doesn’t come easily to us or easily to Paul; he learnt it and so can we. To learn to be content, we have to start with our own lives, here and now in this moment, in this day, in these circumstances, and we do this by expressing thanks. When we express heartfelt thanks, we begin to notice a feeling of gratitude.

The counterbalance to dissatisfaction, and its close relative comparison, is gratitude, and along with gratitude comes contentment:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 

During January, I kept a 30-day gratitude journal, giving thanks for at least 3 things every day.  And it is amazing the difference it’s made: rather than thinking about what I don’t have, I focus on what I do have…and give thanks. Your brain, thoughts and musings fill up with blessings and thanks rather than longings and that ’I wish…’ sentence. Whether I can keep it up is another thing, but to focus on what I have been given, what I have been blessed with is a whole new mind set that is freeing and offers, like Paul experiences, contentment and peace.


 

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Posted by Debbie Wright

Debbie Wright is Stewardship’s Head of Content and is passionate about generosity in all its guises. Besides occasional blogging and tweeting she creates resources and campaigns such as 40acts and Advent Wonder to inspire, engage and motivate the wider Christian community. Prior to joining, Debbie worked for A Rocha UK as editor of their national magazine and in a previous life worked as a TV producer/director for the BBC for 17 years.  Debbie is married to Graham; they have 4 daughters and a springer spaniel.  When not acting as taxi driver, she can be found on a salsa dance floor. Follow Debbie on Twitter @debwright99

comments:

Susan Crompton

February 19, 2016 4:58 PM
For eleven years I was bringing up two boys on my own after my first husband left. I continued to give a tenth of my income to church and charity, I ran a children's wildlife club with my two children and in giving in this way found great blessing. God is generous and he wants us to be generous, with our time and money. I found that by doing this, I was able to manage my money efficiently and my time too. I was able to concentrate on all the good things in my life, not what I had lost.

Debbie Wright

February 22, 2016 2:45 PM
Hi Susan, thanks so much for your inspiring words and your positive thankful outlook on life when it all looked rather bleak. God really does bless us when we look outwards and upwards and give thanks for all that we have been given.

Charlotte J

February 22, 2016 6:28 PM
Loved reading this. A truth i know but have to regularly remind myself of!

Paula Williams

February 22, 2016 8:57 PM
A few years ago something terrible happened and I was left shocked and devastated. Yet I had to carry on, be strong and get things done. The world as I knew it was blown apart. All that I had learned about God now proved itself to be true and I learned as never before to walk in His strength alone. But something that really helped me enormously was a decision to seek out the joy in every day. I actively sought it and always found it in abundance. It put balance into my life. Took my eyes away from all the negatives and made me truly thankful to God. I still try to do that as it is such a blessing.

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