I call myself a recovering workaholic. It’s been my tendency to work, and work, and then work some more. I love achieving goals and knocking tasks out of the park. There’s always a new book, business, or creative idea in my mind I want to complete. I’m constantly pushing forward, trying to accomplish all I possibly can. 

Lately, I’ve felt the Lord inviting me to practice contentment. Instead of working myself to the bone so I can accomplish more, I feel drawn toward being in the moment, appreciating this season of life. 

 

Contentment in Scarcity

This invitation to practice contentment first came in the middle of an uncomfortable time for this recovering workaholic. I had no work projects (every freelancer’s nightmare) and none on the horizon. Normally, I would reach out to a few contacts who almost always have work for me to do, but I felt like the Lord said ‘no’ to this idea.  

I was very discontent in that season. And, because I didn’t have work to fill my time, I was forced to wrestle with those feelings. I had to address what was making me feel so discontent. Though I had God, I still wanted more. 

I felt as though I was stuck in a place I didn’t want to be in, but I also knew it was right where God wanted me to be. That knowledge helped me to slow down and take stock of my situation. I realized I’d spent so much time striving, I’d forgotten to appreciate all that I did have—my health, supportive community, my car, stable housing, great roommates—all of which were answers to past prayers. In my drive to get and achieve more, I’d overlooked the blessings right in front of me. 

As I practiced being content, even in that uncomfortable season, I began to become more grateful. Though I was not where I wanted to be, as I focused more on the goodness of God instead of what I lacked, gratitude rose within me. I began to live out Psalm 34:1, which says, 

“I will bless the Lord at all times;

    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

I never thought practicing contentment would lead to such true gratitude in my heart, but it did.

If you find yourself in a place of scarcity in any area, I encourage you to slow down during this season. Take intentional time to seek the Lord and ask him to reveal what he’s doing in your life right now. Ask him to show you how he has blessed you, even in the midst of difficulties. 

While being content and grateful won’t magically change our seasons of scarcity, it can help us find joy, peace, and hope amid those moments of difficulty. 

 

Contentment in Abundance

Now, I’m in a completely different season. It felt like, after months of waiting, my entire life changed within the course of one week. Now I have more work than I know what to do with. I’m helping one friend scale her flourishing small business, helping a different friend get her company off the ground, and partnering with another to start an entirely new venture. I’m amazed that I am able to make a tangible difference in people’s lives, but I’m acutely aware of my own temptation to fall back into a workaholic lifestyle.

Contentment is still my work for this season. 

I didn’t realize that learning to practice contentment in times of scarcity was going to prepare me for practicing contentment in times of abundance. Because, even when things are good, discontentment can still appear. There is a very real allure to wanting more; even today, when things are good, I can still find myself moving toward dissatisfaction. 

This season, I am returning to 1 Timothy 6:6, which says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 

I’m learning that in this time of abundance, the work, income, and opportunities I’m gaining don’t have to be my focus. Instead, I can choose to remain grateful and content, even with everything that’s currently happening all around me, without desiring to do or have more. 

If you find yourself in a season of abundance in any area, I encourage you to also slow down. Instead of being focused on getting everything you ever wanted or dreamed of, ask the Lord to show you how he’s inviting you to use this season. Ask him to show you how you can become more grateful and content. 

Contentment is needed in every season. When we slow down, we’re better able to see all that the Lord is doing and has done for us. We can choose to be grateful, whether things are falling apart, or everything is as perfect as can be. Contentment isn’t something we practice in order to gain something else but is a great gain in and of itself. 

I know that practicing contentment can seem like a big topic, so here are a few practical things that have helped me: 

  • Journaling my prayers – the simple act of writing down my prayers, including what I’m grateful for, is a tangible reminder of God’s provision I can regularly return to. 
  • Spending time in nature – for me, taking a walk every day in nature helps me remember how big God is and how small I am. The beauty of nature reminds me of the goodness of God. 
  • Cutting down my social media use – while social media can be an incredible tool to connect with others, I know that it can also breed discontent within me. Taking regular breaks helps me stay focused on what’s most important.
  • Honestly sharing with trusted people – as soon as I knew contentment was my word for this season, I let a few friends know. In moments when discontentment began to bubble up, I could reach out to them and talk it through.