Contentment cannot be taught. If it were that simple and easy, we’d all have it all the time. Someone would just teach us the logic of it and it would stick.
“Don’t you see,” we’d tell our kids, “contentment makes the same sort of sense as 1+1= 2.” And then they’d nod their heads in agreement won over by our irrefutable logic.
Pretty sure that’s not effective. Why? Because I know me. And I know my daughter. And if the Scriptures are true, I know you and your kids too.
If I’m going to tamp down the whirring, yearning, and chasing of my discontentment this Christmas, if I’m going to help my daughter do the same, there is only one force with both the consistency and the power to deliver. His name? The Holy Spirit.
He alone will allow me to walk past the Apple store without a second thought. He alone will allow my three-year-old daughter to walk past racks of Christmas toys without throwing a tantrum or convince her she’s alright without that additional Christmas cookie. That’s just honest.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few quick thoughts on unleashing the Spirit:
- Unleash the Spirit on yourself. In the Word, you’ll find this incredible, mind-blowing God who has met every one of your most basic and most profound needs in totally overwhelming ways. Did I gush enough to make my point? The reality is that if we parents are not convinced we have everything we could possibly want or need in Christ, how could we possibly hope to share that same news with our kids? My daughter can smell a rat a mile away.
- Unleash the Spirit on your child(ren). See above. Just think, it’s December! What better picture is there than that mangy manger for teaching the love and promises of God?
- Live gratitude. Even shout it! I do, and I heartily recommend it. When I see another stunning Carolina crescent moon, my whole house knows about it (and who put it there!). Sometimes at dinner, I’ll very intentionally ask my girls, “What are you thankful for today?” We do that at bedtime, too. At the tender age of three, she sometimes has a hard time getting past the zoo, but—hey—I don’t mind asking her, “Are you thankful for Jesus, too? Why?” (Quick aside: if you want to feel joy after a tough day, do what I suggest and just watch your daughter’s eyes light up with gospel glow as she tells you about the God she’s learning to know. I’m telling you, there’s nothing better!)
- Ignore, squash, or redirect discontentment. Pray for wisdom on which of those triggers to pull in which circumstance and then pull it. Don’t be afraid to let the Spirit convict through you. Whatever you do, don’t ever indulge it. The human heart is a bottomless pit. One more thing will not satisfy. Only Jesus does.
- Finally, build these rhythms into your family life intentionally, practically, and concretely all the time. The human heart doesn’t magically heal from discontentment after December 25 rolls by. Before we know it, 2016 will drop in on us, and once again in the new year we will find our hearts in need of Holy Spirit-provided contentment. I am also delighted, however, to tell you that once again in the New Year you’ll reliably find the Spirit for yourself and your children in the words and promises of God.