Banishing the other “ments”

25 01 2012

Contentment has enemies. They prowl in the shadows, testing doors and windows, looking for any way in. And once they get their foot in the door, there is no peace, no sanctuary, no room for contentment until they’ve been banished.

You probably know them already, because they get around. They’re sisters, from one family, but each with a venom all her own. And together, they’re lethal.

Their names?

Resentment, Disappointment, and Entitlement.

These other “ments,” they show up uninvited, barging in all a-bluster, and they wonder, did you see so-and-so’s photos from her recent trip, and haven’t you always wanted to go there? Oh, and did you hear what’s-his face’s exciting news? You would be perfectly suited for something like that! Then they pause in their enthusiastic accounts and glance around, as though suddenly aware of your pathetic lot. That’s when they slip a sympathetic arm around your shoulder and hiss their whispers.

Poor you.
It’s not fair.
You shouldn’t have to do this.
Your talents are being wasted.
This isn’t the way you expected things to be.
You deserve better.

They point out how everyone else’s lot is better than yours, and they magnify all your sacrifices, and you listen. You listen, and a seed of bitterness slips silently into a dark corner of your soul, where it swells and festers and leaks its poison, until the light that once seemed so clear grows dim. The music sounds flat. Life is too hard, too boring, too demanding, too something, and doesn’t God see? Doesn’t He know you can’t possibly be happy here?

God does see, and He knows. And when the time is right, He speaks in a way we will understand. Perhaps through a Bible verse, or a friend, or maybe a dream. Or perhaps, as He recently did with me, through a scene from Babe. (Yes, the movie about the talking pig. Emphasis on “way we will understand.”) It’s probably been at least fifteen years since I last saw it, and this particular side plot isn’t even crucial to the main story, but God plucked it from the archives of my brain, plugged it into my mental VCR (this is the nineties), and pressed play.

It goes like this. Farmer Hoggett meticulously crafts a gorgeous dollhouse for his granddaughter. He builds it with his own hands, paints it with his own hands, and lovingly appoints every detail, all with his own hands. All for her. But on Christmas morning, when she pulls away the gift wrap, she scrunches up her face, bursts into tears, and whines, “It’s not the one I saw on television!”

And then His voice.

I’m building you a house with My own hands. I’ve designed every detail just for you. When you refuse what I’m giving and want something else, you are that ungrateful child.

His voice is tender with affection, and I’m ashamed that I ever listened to resentment or disappointment or entitlement. Ashamed and amazed that I could crave empty or plastic or one-size-fits all, when the One who created me for His glory — the One who alone can give me true joy — lovingly labored over every beautiful and delicate detail of this life. And so I repent. My soul says, “yes” to Him, I hold out my hands to receive His gifts, and I lean, content, like the weaned child. The other “ments” — those selfish sisters — slink away. Oh, I know they’ll be back, but hopefully I’ll be ready. When they flash their fancy photos, I’ll show them my own.

It’s a picture of a house, made with my Lord’s own Hands, every detail meticulously planned, all with purpose. All for me.

And I’m happy here.

Giving thanks in community for (#353 – 363) :

first time to the gym since we moved
sore muscles
cleaning products
conviction of sin
caramelized onions
sweet times with old friends
the mystery of faith
memory
truth
the cross


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10 responses

25 01 2012
Sandra Heska King

Entitlement. I don’t think I’ve ever lumped that in there with disappointment and resentment. Is she the older sister? The party planner?

I’m happy you’re here, too. 🙂

27 01 2012
jeannedamoff

Ah, Entitlement. She may be the worst of the three, because her lies go deepest. The only way I know to shut her up is to remember what I truly deserve — how I was dead and without hope until Christ rescued me from eternal punishment, not because I was good or appealing or in any way deserving of grace, but by His willing sacrifice of Himself for my sin in obedient love to His Father. I’m “entitled” to eternal damnation, yet I’m receiving abundant life, amazing grace, and new mercies every morning. That’s my kind of party. 😉

Love to you, friend. I’m happy you’re happy. xo

26 01 2012
Linda

Oh how this speaks to my heart Jeanne. This is my word this year too. It was whispered to my heart when I began to feel all of those other “ments” while dreaming of what I wanted to put into our new home. The irony is, I don’t think we will be able to fit all the things we already have into this smaller space, but there I was wanting more and better and like all those beautiful pictures I’ve seen around. Whenever those sisters stick their noses in, I cling to that word – content.

27 01 2012
jeannedamoff

Boy, do I hear you. Dreaming can be dangerous, can’t it? Praying for you as you rally your thoughts and take them captive. Blessings on your new home, Linda. May it be a refuge and haven for all who enter. xo

27 01 2012
nacoleat6inthesticks

dear Jeanne,

oh how im glad ive found you this morning! its been a long while since ive read anything so good. there is something about conviction of sin and knowing we are passionately loved that doing works and trying harder just cant replace. i noticed you on one of the blogs the other day, and thought, its been a long time since i visited, but it was supposed to be this morning, as i have had a crabby morning (something my family has to put up with from me) and my sin is disgusting but i dont know how to stop in that moment. this was for me this morning. my life for the past two years has had major trials, mountains i cant seem to move, and i dont know when it will get better…but im learning…so much. how to be joyful, rejoicing through it all, how to know the suffering will come and to embrace it along side my Jesus, a little softer around the edges, a little more caring and compassionate for my neighbor until nothing is left of me. thank you so, so much for this beautiful story. i read it to my family at the breakfast table and wept all the way through. my 7 yr old, Ivy, said, “Mama, is this sad?” i said, “yes, it is” and she stared at the screen as if trying to pull the meaning out. this has deeply blessed us.i will be back!!!

blessings in His grace,

Nacole

feel free to read my gratitude:
http://sixinthehickorysticks.blogspot.com/2012/01/gazelle-sprinting.html

27 01 2012
jeannedamoff

Dear Nacole, thank you for your honesty and for letting me know how much this post meant to you. May the Lord reveal Himself as redeemer in all your trials, transforming brokenness into beauty.

I loved your story about playing chase in the yard. I long to be more and more present in the moments of my day — to see His sweet and simple gifts everywhere. Thanks for sharing yours.

Love, Jeanne

30 01 2012
richelle

i must selfishly say i’m glad i’ve not missed much (our internet service has become bipolar… on again off again and who knows when…) because you’ve not written much.

God has been impressing much on my heart recently about contentment… how choosing contentment and thankfulness for what God has chosen to provide is crucial.

discontentment was at the crux of eve’s temptation… and i believe it was eve’s downfall in the garden. she had God’s lavish abundance everywhere around her and then the serpent drew her eyes to the only forbidden… once discontent entered, outright sin was on her heels… and we’ve all fought and lost that same battle time and time again, throughout history.

it is my daily prayer, that God clearly reveals those temptings towards discontent and graces me with the wisdom and strength to choose to be content in whatever state i am.

blessings – and glad you are wading back into blogging.

30 01 2012
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Richelle, for the warm welcome back to blogging. And thanks for sharing your powerful insights about Eve’s temptation. Sobering to think about, isn’t it? I’ll join you in that daily prayer!

8 02 2012
tonia

Jeanne, I’m so glad you sought me out yesterday and wrote a little note. It was good to find you here again and sit with you and listen. I have had hard seasons of wrestling with the “ments”…thank you for your honesty in sharing.

I opened my prayer book yesterday and there were your names penciled in at the bottom of the page: “Jeanne: Jacob” So glad for the privilege to pray and journey with you.

9 02 2012
jeannedamoff

Thank you for finding me and sitting with me here, Tonia. And thank you for this holy and humbling gift — our names penciled in your prayer book and spoken before the throne of grace. When I think of what a beautiful honor that is, I’m speechless with gratitude.

Love to you. Much love.

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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