A new year, a new word

For the last few years, through prayer and pondering, I’ve had a word for the year. This year, the word that came forward and offered itself was ‘promise’.

No specific promise came along with it, so I began to look into the word itself and it was the second verb definition that resonated with me:

with obj. ] give good grounds for expecting (a particular occurrence or situation): forthcoming concerts promise a feast of music from around the world | [ with infinitive ] :  it promised to be a night that all present would long remember.

Mmmm…a year of promise – a year full of the expectation of – I’m going to go ahead and make it a positive, as you knew I would 🙂 – good occurrences or situations. I quite like that.

The words I’ve had previously have had an application aspect to them e.g. rest – deliberately concentrating on being restful; or intention – requiring me to really think and plan. But promise, well, promise requires me to do nothing but hope and keep my eyes open for the forthcoming good things.

And I’ve also been challenged by what I define as good. As is often the case, my definition of a word isn’t always what God means by that same word. And good definitely falls into that category.

For most of us, good things are the things that make us happy or make our life easier somehow or have some reward or kickback. Yet even a cursory read of the Bible should cause us to rethink what God means by good. By God’s definition, it seems good is anything that brings me closer to Him. And we all know that those things aren’t always what makes us happy or life easier, nor do they always carry a reward we can see in the here and now.

I like the freedom that this word brings and it ties in nicely with last years’ word of rest – rest in the promise of all this year holds 🙂

And what says promise more than the dawning of a new day? This pic is from a couple of years back that I love because it captures two of my favourite things – the beach and a fresh new day rising to meet us.

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Contentment. Do you have it?

I have been thinking a lot lately about contentment. What does it mean to be content? What exactly does it look like?

Sometimes contentment can be confused with having no future dreams or aspirations. Certainly in my younger years, I kind of had the idea that contentment meant you had given up on expecting or hoping for anything different. Almost that being content meant you were ‘putting up with’ your current circumstances.

Now that I am older and maybe fractionally wiser – but that is debatable! – I actually have contentment as a bit of a goal. I have long since given up on ‘happiness’ as a goal, not because I am not happy essentially, but because happiness is such a fickle and hard to grasp entity that it is pointless trying to attain it. No, contentment is very different from happiness.

Here is what I have concluded: contentment is an absence of jealousy. For me, anyway.

Jealousy often arises in us when we see others having things/people/attributes that we don’t have. If I feel jealous of someones new job, new house, trip overseas, move to the country, new baby, then maybe I need to have a look at myself.

Often we will be jealous because we are not truly content.

Contentment, to me, means being completely okay with where I am at. That I feel no competition when I hear of what others are doing. Being truly pleased for someone else instead of inside griping that I wish it was me with that new <insert desirable item/situation>.

Being content doesn’t mean giving up on goals. I can be content that my goal for a trip to Europe will be realised in about ten years. I don’t have to give up that goal in order to be content.

When I truly let go of the want, want, want tendency that is in all of us, I can begin to tread the path of contentment. And I can also begin to feel genuine joy at another’s achievements.

How about you? Are you content? What does that look like for you?