On Contentment, Grace & Waterless Toilets
I think there is a wide misconception that missionaries are easily contented people, hence us being able to live abroad in sometimes uncomfortable environments. I, however, am not such a person. Not by a long shot. But I am trying…
On Wednesday of last week our water pump broke leaving our house without running water for the remainder of the week. On Friday city power decided not to grace our neighborhood with any electricity, the Internet stopped working, and our generator ran out of oil making it unusable till the next day.
Admiring the unwashed dishing piling high, watching my beautiful children clog up waterless toilets, and smelling my own personal stench, my emotions spiraled out of control early Saturday morning. The uncontrollable dysfunction of my house, coupled with a dash of PMS, was just too much, and in rushed a wave of self-loathing and pity, which just about knocked me over completely.
I sat on the edge of my bed and sobbed. Like, the ugly kind of sob. “How am I supposed to live like this?” I yelled to Hunter who had yet to utter a complaint all week. “I can’t run a house in which nothing works,” I continued on…and on…and on. Until eventually I realized Hunter had long left the room, leaving me to wallow alone.
Fast forward to later that morning and I heard a song play in the truck as we drove through town. I couldn’t even begin to tell you its name or the artist that sings it, but the lyrics had something to do with counting your blessings no matter how great or small. I knew it was meant to be encouraging, but after a morning such as mine I found it rather repulsive. Trying to ignore the overtly obvious message God was trying to communicate to me, my inner dialogue went something like this:
This song is stupid. I mean, who ever wrote this song obviously lives in Suburban, USA. Perhaps they wouldn’t sound so dang cheerful if they hadn’t washed their hair in three days and had heat rash all over their back from sleeping in a pool of their own sweat.
My Saturday continued on, as did my bitter attitude. Even though I was at the beach with friends sipping on freshly squeezed pineapple juice and enjoying the peaceful waves, my soul was completely restless and ungrateful. My heart was an ugly mess. It would take a nasty dose of guilt to set me in my tracks.
“I hate taking bucket showers,” I complained to a Haitian friend of mine while we watched my children pack up their beach toys. “I need my water pump fixed and fast!” He laughed at me, bless him, and told me I was spoiled. Listening to his honesty, I wanted to argue. I wanted to tell him he wasn’t right. That I was a woman of great sacrifice, not privilege. But he was…right. Completely. And finally humbleness came knocking at my soul’s front door.
I am spoiled. Way more than I should be. I have three healthy children, a rock star of a husband, and I have never gone hungry a day in my life. And you’d think after living over five years in Haiti I would get that by now, but confession, I don’t.
Returning home from the beach that evening our water pump had been fixed, city power had been all daylong, the generator was replenished with oil, and our Internet was up and running. God had taken care of everything even though I was completely unworthy. He spoiled me even though I refused to count my blessings. How often does this happen in my life? Everyday my friends. Every. Single. Day.
Paul once said that during his time of ministry he had to learn to be content with both a little and a lot. I keep waiting for the day in which I learn this all-valuable lesson as well. When will I finally learn that being content is not dependent on what I have or what I don’t have, but on my relationship with God?
Have you been there? Have you had those days too? Maybe they look drastically different than my own, but I have a feeling you have had those moments in which everything seems to be falling apart. Just in case you are skimming below to find some life changing wisdom on how to handle such days, freeze! I have no such wisdom. Just this: Grace! Seriously, that’s all I got. Grace when we complain. Grace when our hearts are not content. Grace when we are anxious. Grace when we forget that God is always there. Grace when we cry at the edge of our beds. Grace over it all.
I’ll leave you with some words from Jesus. I’m breathing in these words this week as if my life depends on it. Contentment may not come naturally for me, but I am going to give it my best. How about you?
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6: 25-34)