Monday, September 19, 2016

Messy Marriage Mondays: From Discontentment to Gratitude

{Elissa Ewald Photography}

That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have more interesting things to do with our lives. Each one of us is an original. - Galatians 5:26, The Message

One of the best pieces of marriage advice I received was from my dear friend and mentor, Suzanne Chambers. She said, "Cultivate a grateful heart." When she wrote that on her little slip of paper at a post-wedding bridal shower, I wasn't really sure why that would be so important. After all, I had only been married for a couple weeks at that point! Well friends, at the time of writing this post, I have now been married for 433 days, and boy do I understand the weight of that advice!

Discontentment has its sneaky little ways of showing up in every facet of our lives. In finances, we are constantly pushing towards more so that we can keep up with everyone else and try to impress people we don't even like. In the professional world, we want the recognition or the job that someone else-anything but our own. In marriage, we may find it easy to look to the right or left and think, "Are we doing it right?"

There is much to be loved and appreciated about the age of social media. We can easily keep in touch with people who live in different cities, states, and countries for free! We can see what our favorite celebrities and athletes are up to in their daily lives. We can network and "meet" people through so many different avenues.

We can also find ourselves in despair as we scroll through our feeds and see everyone looking so dang happy. But we forget that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (well maybe not Twitter, people like to rant on there) is mainly a highlight reel! There is nothing inherently wrong with social media or movies and television for that matter. But sometimes, when our intake of these sources is great, our hearts begin to feel hollow and weary. We look to the screen to tell us who we are and why we matter. The likes aren't high enough, and before we know it, nothing in our lives seems good enough anymore if it isn't just like the movies.

Well friends, I'm here to tell you that life just ain't like the movies. It's even better. Seriously. God is incredibly gracious and wonderful. He allows us to walk through this life with Him if we so choose. He gives us grace upon grace and never leaves or forsakes us. And if we're married, He gave us a spouse to draw us ever closer to Him and to make us look more like Him.

Discontentment can be a nasty weed to pull. It can be difficult to recognize and hard to uproot. But friends, it is worth. Walking in gratitude means that we fully realize that every good gift is from above. We say "thank you" more than "I wish." Discontentment clouds our vision and makes us see through the lenses of selfishness and greed. We can begin to strive and chase after the wind because we think there's something better out there instead of living fully where God has put us. News flash: God's got you where you are for a reason. No accidents on His part.

When Rory and I first got married, I was on this HORRENDOUS birth control that made me severely depressed. That may be TMI, but I feel like we're friends if you've been reading here for a while, so just stick with me. Anyways, I was taking this awful medicine that either made me want to rage or cry all the time. Loads of fun. I remembered what my friend Suzanne had said, and when I got annoyed, I would take out this little journal and write down ten things I loved about Rory. It took my eyes off of me and brought my perspective in check. Now I try to redirect my thoughts to gratitude when I find myself getting frustrated. It's certainly not a cure-all, but I have found that it helps me to get a little reality check in before I rail in on the hubs.

So, my friends, if discontentment's got you down, take inventory. Where are your sights set? What fuels your motivation? Where do you find your happiness? If it's in knowing that you're the best or that you've "made it," look a little deeper and ask the Lord to make sure that your sights are set on Him. Thank Him for all He's done and all He's given you. Chances are, you could make a pretty long list. And when you're done thanking Him, write a note to your spouse and tell him/her why you're grateful for them. You can never tell them often enough.

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