As a young child, I could hardly wait for my twelve torturous years of school to be over. I would count down the days until I would no longer be chained down by paper and pen. I would finish each school day with the exciting thought that someday soon I would graduate. I would be an adult, and this tiresome time of lessons and homework would all be over.
Yet now that kindergarten through sixth grade, junior high, and even high school are all behind me, I can’t help but wish with a sigh that I had better enjoyed my childhood years. My mother warned me not to let my thoughts rush to the future. She told me that adult life had many responsibilities that as a child I didn’t have to think about. She told me that I would grow up fast enough. She was certainly right. I didn’t realize that in the blink of an eye I would no longer be a child. I was too busy wishing for what I didn’t yet have.
You would think that I would’ve learned my lesson. You would think I would now understand the importance of being content, yet I still often find myself wishing away this season of my life for one that I hope to be soon in coming. Instead of enjoying my years of singleness, I look anxiously towards the future—hoping that marriage will be included.
Oftentimes I am too quick to think “the grass is so much greener over there.” Though, usually, it sounds a bit more like: “Oh, if only Prince Charming would come right now, I just know I would be happy forever.” We rush through the now—the season of life God has purposely placed us in—for our then. And soon, we’ve reached our pasture of paradise—FINALLY! But . . . wait a minute . . . it’s not quite as green as we thought it was. So we either look back with tears in our eyes as we wish that we hadn’t wasted those years that are now behind us or we spy a new plot of land where the grass is definitely so much greener this time around.
If we can’t find joy in doing our own laundry, why do we expect to find joy in doing a load double the size? If a 9 to 5 job is too much to bear, what about when the children are sick or cranky and the dishes are piling up and your husband’s out of town on a business trip? If we are not happy where God has put us now, why do we expect to be happy with what we think we want for our future? God wants us to fight this giant of discontentment in our life. He wants us to realize that He put us in this exact time, this exact place, and these exact circumstances for a specific purpose.
I believe discontentment—this greener grass mentality—is a problem that the majority of women struggle with. Perhaps it is evident in your life when you compare yourself to your closest friend, and then just because you don’t have her looks, personality, prestige, or money, you believe that there is something wrong with you. Or maybe you’re refusing to enjoy this stage of life because you are too anxious to hop onto the next.
Discontentment poisons our effectiveness for the season of life that God has placed us in. If we weren’t so busy daydreaming about Prince Charming, we’d have more time to serve others. If we weren’t constantly wondering when our knight in shining armor will appear, we’d be able to grow closer to God and trust wholeheartedly in His plans for us. If we weren’t so busy worrying about the what ifs of our future, we’d have more time to talk to God.
Remember, this season of singleness is profiting you profoundly, whether or not you ever get married. However, let’s go ahead and presume that you will someday be someone’s wife—after all, the majority of us will most likely one day be married. Think of your single years as practice for your married ones. You won’t be found anxiously waiting—wondering if (and hoping that) your hubby will get that big promotion. Instead, you will know the secret of patiently waiting on God. You won’t sigh despondently as you compare your tiny two bedroom home with the mansions of your friends, for you will already understand how to be truly content in everything. You won’t be overwhelmed with despair when your husband returns home one evening without a job. After all, you will know from experience that God works all things out for His good, even though it may be hard to see it at the moment.
You won’t be left wondering when God will bless you with children or if you’re destined to be barren for eternity. Instead, you will be able to trust that His timing is ALWAYS best. When your children are getting on your nerves almost constantly, you will know how to breathe deeply and let the peace of God fill you. You will have practiced patience so often during your single years that now at this most opportune time it is second nature to you. After all, patience is perfected through trials and troubles and tests (Romans 5:3). Your nerves will not control you or your actions . . . only God will. When your husband is not the perfect, angelic being that you thought he was (or your children do not turn out to be innocent cherubs), it will not ruin your life because you will already know that only Jesus can fulfill you, not the preconceived ideas that you dreamed up for your future. The hardships of singleness can grow you and prepare you for your future. Will you let them?
So many women live with the misconception that they are only discontent because their dreams have not yet come true (whether it is marriage, a pay raise, or a specific career path). They believe that as soon as they have their desires fulfilled that their discontentment will disappear with a snap of their fingers.
Most women who are pining for married life think that after marriage they will never again wish that their life is different, never again complain, never again have a sour attitude, never again experience anything but a sunshiny day. Yet, if you are comparing your life with all of those around you now, why do you assume that discontentment will never slosh about in your brain once you are married?
Perhaps you will no longer lament over the fact that you are always a bridesmaid and never a bride, but maybe instead you will bemoan the fact that your husband is not as attentive as Suzy’s. Perhaps you will have no more nights of solitary dining; maybe instead, you will whine that dinner’s now cold because John got stuck in traffic on his way home from work. Maybe you will no longer be found coveting your best friend’s marital position, but perhaps you will feel discontentment permeating your soul because Lucy has more children, her kids are better behaved, or her husband has a higher salary.
If you are fostering an attitude of discontentment now, if you are cultivating seeds of covetousness, you will find that instead of instantly being weeded out once you are married, these feelings will turn into an overgrown field of briars. Remember, if you do not grasp the secret of contentment now, then you can count on feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied in the future—even after you are married.