Who came up with the saying, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop?” Did there used to be a lot of people throwing pairs of shoes up in the air? And was it common for one of the shoes to go higher, and therefore take longer to fall back to earth? Some research may be in order. Whatever the origin, the idiom has found a home in our language. It seems to typify a pessimistic outlook. Whether things are going smoothly or unraveling, there is an expectation that trouble, or more trouble, is around the corner.
I am working hard not to think this way. After all, life is not about random things dropping from the sky. There is a God who controls everything according to His own will and good purpose. We all know that life isn’t easy, and things don’t always go according to plan. But, here I am experiencing the most joy and contentment that I’ve had in my adult life. I look around and see God’s blessing all around me. If you had told me ten years ago that I would be able to live with contentment even though I was still single, I don’t think I would have believed it. Of course, I am sure that ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the knowledge that I would still be single in my forties.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
On the one hand, I realize that my heart has changed more than my circumstances. So I wonder if life is really more smooth and blessed, or if I am just better able to recognize the blessings. On the other hand, God has been exceeding my expectations over the past year. I can’t believe what a wonderful place I live in. He is helping me to budget and meet my financial goals, even though there were no raises at work this year and I am paying more for rent. I am enjoying my job and getting new opportunities within the organization. I am astounded.
I have always, more or less, known that contentment isn’t about having everything that I want. It is about having peace with what I have. For once I am living this out, though not perfectly, of course. I still see the signs of envy and bitterness in my heart – God help me! I have never lost my desire to be loved by a man, and need I even mention my desire to have children? But I know that I don’t need those things to be happy. I know that God’s grace is sufficient, and He strengthens me for every situation He places me in.
Last week, I purchased plane tickets to go to my twenty-year class reunion at the academy. I had been watching the prices, and I prayerfully decided it was time to buy. From a financial standpoint, I am amazed at how God is working everything out so that I can pay for the trip and still meet my other budgetary goals. But I know there are other facets to the trip that aren’t guaranteed. A lot can happen between now and then. I keep thinking about how I have been feeling poorly about one week out of every three. Even aside from health, there are a lot of things than can go wrong and ruin a trip.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
I wonder if it is the devil who is trying to make me worry. What could knock the joy and contentment out of me better than worry. Worry means not trusting the God who has blessed me so graciously. Even if there is a shoe barreling down at me, what use is there worrying. God will be there for me then, just as He is now. I can choose to have joy then, as I do now, because my happiness and contentment come from God and not circumstances. If this were not true, happiness would merely be an illusion. But, happiness isn’t just a feeling; it is a mindset, an outlook on life, and of course, a fruit of the Spirit. As someone who struggles with depression, it isn’t the easiest mindset for me to have. But, as someone who has laid claim to grace, and accepted salvation through Jesus Christ, I know that how I look at life should always be colored with joy and gratitude.
I don’t know if I am ready for shoes to rain down on me, but I strive to be prepared. These are the times to lean in to God, so that when trouble comes, I know He is right there. Too often, we seek God only when we have needs or problems. I want to learn in this time of contentment, the value of communing with God daily. I feel that this will be the best way to combat worry. In trials, I have learned it is best to take each day as it comes and not think too far ahead. It is a good lesson for the happy times, also. Why ruin smooth sailing by worrying about storms that can’t even be seen on the horizon. Be prepared for the storms, but not worrying, “for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” Meanwhile, I’ll pray that if proverbial shoes do drop, that they’ll be size 8-1/2 narrow – a perfect fit for me.