Distorted Vision
T. Suzanne Eller

"But godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

My husband went back to school three years ago. It's been an adventure! We sold our home to lessen our debt load. We moved to a new city, buying a smaller home closer to the university. I worked full-time as a freelance writer the first two years while he attended school full time. Our budget was minimized to the essentials, like food and shelter and tuition! There were many times I was reminded of what we could or could not have, like when I was shopping with a friend who dropped cold hard cash on a purse or shoes, or was invited to join friends at a special restaurant. The money for those things was not in the budget—or the bank!

Have you ever wished for something you couldn't have? We all have at one time or another, but what happens when it's something you really can't have. Like being model tall instead of average height, or a different nose or longer legs, or the pounds to be distributed differently (a little more in the bust and little less in the stomach, please!). Maybe it's not your body, but your house, your wardrobe, or the car you drive. If only you had ten times more money, then you'd have all you want!

What's wrong for wishing for what you can't have?

It can distort your vision as you become fixated on what you don't have, and fail to see what you do have. It can get scary and mess with your health or your relationships as you pursue quick fixes. At some point it can even become an obsession.

Right now Richard and I can't jet to Hawaii (or even New Jersey), but watching my husband walk across the stage to receive his degree was priceless. Out of the view of the public he did a dance and his joy was contagious. The sacrifices haven't ended for us. He's started over in his career at an age most are settling into success. He's pursuing his Master's degree at night. We continue to pay tuition and live on a tight budget. And yet I feel rich with contentment.

How do you avoid distorted vision? The first step is to change your focus. You may not be model tall, but are you healthy? Do you have a circle of friends, or a caring church? Did your child wrap her arms around your neck this morning? Has a friend walked with you through a difficult time? Has the presence of God wrapped around you in your quiet time?

The next step is to focus on others. Something happens when you take the time and energy and thought life previously devoted to your thighs or that beautiful house on the other side of town. You begin to see the needs of others. You find joy in generosity to others. You become others-centered.

Contentment becomes like a new set of contacts or binoculars. Our world expands as we see beyond ourselves and invite God into the picture. It becomes a spiritual act of grace, a work of God in our hearts as we give it all to Him.

Dear Father, today I will not grumble. I will not compare myself to others. I will praise You for the blessings all around me, and Your song of praise will be the words of my mouth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The Woman I Am Becoming: Embracing the Chase for Identity, Faith, and Destiny by T. Suzanne Eller

God’s Purpose for Every Woman by various P31 authors, Gen Editors: Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olson

Visit Suzie’s blog

Application Steps:
Define what contentment is not:

o It is not complacency – it's not saying "that's all I'll ever do or be"
o It is not self-righteousness – it doesn't come from your own efforts
o It is not repression – it is not staying in abuse, hunger, or harm's way

Define what it is:

o It is sufficient – pray that God will give you joy to fill the empty places
o It is enough – it is a work within that opens your heart and eyes
o It is to be full – it reveals your true blessings

Reflections:
Are you willing to trade discontentment for contentment?

Start today by making a list of what truly makes you "rich" in Christ.

Power Verses:
Psalm 73:25, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." (NIV)

© 2009 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Eagles Wings said...

Wow, that is the common them today in devotions. A friend of mine put up a post on Disappointment vs Preparedness see link below:

http://www.deannashrodes.com/2009/08/lessons-from-kathryn-disappointment-vs.html#links

Awesome! Thanks so much

Blogger Maija said...

Recently my husband and I have been paying off our credit card debt, so I know how it feels to go without the extras (new clothes now and then, painting in our house, etc.). It is so freeing to say no to my desires and yes to obeying God by becoming financially free. No guilty feelings over spending money we don't have! I find great contentment when I know I am obeying God and working toward a greater purpose.

Blogger Brandi Dabbs said...

my husband and I don't have the money to send our 2 and 3 year old to preschool, so every time I am with my friends and they are talking about having their mornings free, I get so jealous! :) It helps to be reminded of being content.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contentment...so often it is easy to forget what that is as you have reminded us. As our lives improve we are no longer content with what we do have instead we say "I want more!" Thank you for reminding us to keep our focus on God and the others around us not ourselves.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise God for all the good things He has given me. I am so content with how I look and with what I have.

There's nothing wrong with having goals to develop and improve what's been given to us like investments, but investing towards the ungodly desire is futile.

Blogger Jessica said...

I needed this today. As a stay-at-home mom of soon to be three kids 3 and under, I am often reminded of the things and TIME I don't have or can't have. Thanks for the reminder that I need to correct my vision and remember the eternal goals I am striving for, not the temporary things I want for myself today.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you draw the line at what you should be contented at? I think I know my husband loves me(he says I should know and that I should accept him for who he is, a person who is not good at dates) but yet for the last 2 years he has forgotten my birthday..we have been together for more than 10years...are we on the path of deterioration ? I feel so lost and raw with hurt that i tear up everytime i think of it,what scripture can I hang on to...should I just be contented with what I have...or wish he will change?

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