Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission from Jennifer, the Sunflower Mom! Thanks for sending this in, Jen!
“Are you happy?” she asked me.
A friend I hadn’t seen in a few months asked me this question early one Saturday morning over coffee. She knew some of the depression I’ve been wading through the last few years.
“Yes,” I replied, closing the conversation so the discussion could move on to more comfortable topics.
Later that evening I thought about that question.
Happy is a fleeting emotion. When I look back at my life, I’d only describe one season as truly happy: those first few months of awestruck wonder when my daughter was born.
Otherwise, happiness comes and goes. It seems like an impossible goal, especially for someone who is crawling out of depression.
An accurate response would have been, “I’m content.”
Webster’s definition of content is “feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.”
If that sounds the same to you as “happy,” then you’re right, happy is a synonym of the word content.
This dictionary definition leads me to believe a promotion, a change in my singleness, or a new car will bring me contentment. Which I’ve all tried, by the way, and none of these brought me out of my depression.
To truly understand the meaning of contentment, I dug further.
After all, if in Ephesians, Paul can call himself content writing from a jail cell, surely it has nothing to do with singleness or possessions.
Philippians 4:11-13 NIV: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, the biblical definition of contentment is an “internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances.”
This definition demands I find satisfaction where God has me today. Not how I wished my life looked.
No mention of possessions or status or situation. Quite the opposite.
Giving up on the dreams I have for myself isn’t fun work. I never imagined I’d be 40 and a single mother. Those aren’t the goals young girls dream for themselves.
But it’s where God has me.
After years of striving for happiness outside of my life, I came to the end of myself.
Prideful, I was determined to do things my way and only give God what I wanted to give Him. I held onto relationships, hurts, and pride for years.
I begged God all the time to change my circumstances. Certain I knew the way to my happiness.
It wasn’t until one completely broken night that I gave Him all of me, and He fully met the broken me and restored me.
I now put my focus on what God has blessed with me with each day.
For me, that looks like pouring myself into my children in ways I never did before.
I no longer dread being their chauffeur. I look for ways to serve them, teach and prepare them to become human beings that make a difference in this world.
After years of putting my life on hold, I finally went all in: I went back to church. I took a vacation solo, I put myself in new situations. I’ve found blessings that have been waiting for me all this time.
Most of all, I asked for help.
I shelved my pride and starting with my doctor I asked for help. Then I asked a friend at church, then another one, and another.
Shockingly, I was met with grace and love.
God didn’t change my circumstances. I’m still a single mother. But now I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.