Learning to Be Content

I received some news today.  It was not bad news.  It was actually good news.  Still, when I read the email announcing the news, I felt sick.  It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.

After a long search, my former employer has hired a new youth minister to replace me.  Reading the news brought back my feelings of loss about leaving my job.  My strong reaction surprised me.  I have been waiting for them to hire someone, because Ben is eager to resume youth group.  I know and like the woman they hired.  Why, then, this overwhelming sick feeling?

I think that seeing the announcement made it real that I am not going back to my job.  When school began and I did not start youth group, it felt like I was taking some extra time off.  Now, with the new youth minister hired, there is no going back.  Submitting my letter of resignation, having my exit interview. turning in my keys…nothing made ending this job more final than seeing that they have replaced me.

I feel sad, really sad to think about someone else ministering to “my” youth group.  I was really down in the dumps.  I needed some help.  A thought conditioner popped into my head.

I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. —Philippians 4: 11

This is a great “mind trainer.”  It reminds me of a saying that is attributed to St. Francis.

I want what God wants.  That’s why I am so merry.

I know, from past experience, that if I can get myself back to a point where I am content with my “state” right where I am, I will be much more peaceful.  I was perfectly content before I read the announcement.  I want to be content now that I know the news.  So, I repeated these two gems of wisdom to myself a few times.

I began to remember how stressful it was last year, to try to plan youth group meetings with my newly reduced vision.  All that reading and preparation was really hard.  I was increasingly frustrated with the limits on the amount of time I could spend on the computer.  I loved spending time with the youth, but the preparation and paperwork were just more than I could manage while trying to stay healthy.  I had to acknowledge that, hard as it was to give up my ministry, I have never doubted that it was the best thing to do.  My vision is limited and something major had to be eliminated from my life.  I have been content with my decision.

All of these thoughts put the hiring announcement into perspective.  I DO want what God wants.  I want the youth to have youth group.  I am so happy that someone has been hired to take on this big responsibility.  I AM learning to be content in this state, on this low vision journey.  In this state, I accept my limitations and my gifts.  In this state, I do not have to strain my eyes.  In this state, I have more time to spend with my family.  I do not yet see leaving my job as a “blessing.”  I guess it is still a blessing in disguise.  Still, I know that God’s grace will touch this situation and bring peace and beauty and joy to my journey in ways I can not imagine.  Once again, memorizing these thought conditioners so many years ago has given me a path back to living the way I want to live.  I want what God wants.  That’s why I am so merry.  I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.  At least, I am learning.

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