What is it, exactly, that makes us discontent? Can we find new ways to change our thoughts so that we can focus on the ways we have been blessed, as opposed to the perceived short-comings our days may hold?
As Christian parents, we have the opportunity to teach our children how to see the world around us. We shape their views with our words, chosen and careless. We teach them about the life we have been given, our understanding of our place in the world and the part that we invite God to play. If we greet the morning with complaints and stress, we teach. If we speak grateful prayers as we begin the day, we teach. The lesson stands, intended or accidental.
This winter has been long. If we peruse Facebook or watch the evening news, we are inundated with those who are frustrated with the never-ending cold and snow that has captured areas far and near. People complain through the beauty and the snow days and the unpredictability of the season. Likely, the same voices will be cursing the warmth of August.
When we approach our days with a critical eye, what we will see most readily are the issues we have in our families, with our children, in our homes. We see the imperfect around us. But this view can create a slow simmer of emotion that not only steals our joy but also allows frustration and anger to find a way into our daily lives. We see the negative behavior of our children, their academic struggles, the disorganization of our family, the regular arguing and mess-making and chaos. And all of this is frustrating. But this is not all there is.
What causes us to live lives of discontent? We do. It is not true that those who are happy enjoy perfect lives. Instead, people who are pleased with their days seek to follow the wise counsel that is offered in the Bible.
In Psalm 19:14, we read:
“May these words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
When we begin our day with our families, we have a choice to allow our thoughts and our words to be pleasing to God. We have the choice to teach our children to see His blessings, even when it is cold, even when we struggle, even when the week is hard. And every time we show our kids that this season is beautiful, that struggles produce gifts, that God gives us what we need, we are teaching them how to draw nearer to Him in all the seasons of life. We are teaching them that we can be content in knowing we are loved, in knowing this is enough, even when our circumstances are not as we had hoped.
Your words have power. As parents, we must find ways to release our critical natures and focus our eyes on more important things. We must cling to the words of Psalm 16:5-6, which reads: “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” And we must teach our families the same.
The wonder of this day cannot be lost in the weather, in our situations, in our difficulties. We must release our discontent and remind ourselves that the wonder of this day is found in the truth that says we do not walk through it alone. This day is filled with the wonder of a heart beating, a life given, a blessing unexpected. Our boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places and this perspective of plenitude is what our children need from us today.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra