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I was at the eye doctor with one of my kids the other day.  The woman who was getting us started and settled into the room was making friendly conversation.

Where do you go to school?

What grade will you be in next year?

What do you like to do in your free time?

And then to me,

You homeschool?  Are you a stay-at-home mom?

Her friendly banter included her own desire to be a stay-at-home mom, general information about her two children, and, again, her desire to stay home with them and a half-felt wish she could homeschool.

We only had minutes, so I decided to encourage her in her own decisions rather than comparing herself to mine.

Anyway, we really didn’t have time to get into how you can live on a single income, the ins and outs of homeschooling, or the whole “grass is greener” phenomenon she might be experiencing, never having had the chance to stay home with her kids.

It’s not all sunshine and roses.

Actually right now, if I am honest, my life feels a little small.

Have you ever been there?  In that place where you aren’t really happy with where God has you, where you feel like your gifts and talents are drying up, where all your heart desires seem to be forgotten?  Do you know that ache?

I’ve been struggling for a while.  I don’t know about you.  And I know, from experience, that I will not stay in this place forever.  If nothing else, circumstances will change – I’ll get to heaven!

But for now, here I am.

And I keep remembering the Israelites in Babylon.  They knew they were exiled, but they were commanded to settle into the new land and build houses, raise their kids, marry them off, and be.where.they.were even though it wasn’t Israel.  God on purpose took them out of the promised land.  I’m sure they felt my ache.

Some days I am better at being in the midst of the life God has clearly laid out for me than others.  Some days I am committed and faithfully serving right here, right now, in the ways he’s called me to serve.

And yet I wonder sometimes if I am growing in contentment with his calling or growing in resignation to the things I cannot change.

It really does matter.  Resignation is such a defeated way to live.  It assumes a posture of powerlessness and low-grade misery.  Contentment assumes a posture of confidence in God and develops a strength of character that chooses joy in spite of the circumstances.

Sure, I feel more than a little root bound in the pot where God has planted me.  But I am called to more than just being here.  I am called to stretch toward the sun (or Son, as the case may be) in spite of how small and tight my roots feel.

Small Pot  ~ Still Growing

I don’t really want to be resigned, defeated, and miserable.  I don’t really think God designed me for such a life.  But at the end of the day, whether I like it or not, it is my choices that define my level of joy and contentment or my level of misery and resignation.

I can choose to take my thoughts captive for Christ.

I can choose an attitude of gratefulness for what I have.

I can choose not to look back, like Lot’s wife, on the places from which God has called me (whether it’s an evil city, a bigger house, the freedom of singleness or marriage before kids,  ethnic diversity, the big sky of Texas, the validation of a workplace with a pay check, or an afternoon off).

I can choose to speak the same words of encouragement I had for the woman at the eye doctor to myself.

While I cannot control my circumstances, there is one thing I can control.  My choices.

I guess it all comes down to that famous line in Joshua, “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

But the truth is, it is not always an easy choice.

Photo Credit:
Redwood Bonsai by Jeffrey O. Gustafson (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons