Faith Lifestyle

Seeking Contentment: Embracing The Struggle

cozy photo quiet time devotional expecting struggle and pain

I was spending a ridiculously long time on aisle 8, trying to track down a particular kind of jelly for my appetizer dish. And there was this woman with her two babies seemingly doing the same – except she was torn between picking the right kind of honey (I think), responding to her 5-year old’s endless questions all the while keeping her toddler entertained. I couldn’t help but notice her. She was not only strikingly beautiful, but she was dressed incredibly well AND her babies should have been in a magazine. How can you not sort of stare in awe a little bit, right? She was #goals. And from the outside looking in, she had it all.

When I went to checkout, there were long lines at all the cashiers since it was a Sunday. Anyway, the woman just so happened to get in my line. She was on the phone. And I soon discovered (through a little unintentional eavesdropping), that even though things appeared perfect, she was struggling—like really struggling. She and her husband were not on the same page about more children, and it was causing major frustration for both of them – or so it seemed.

And here I thought she had it all, but her struggle revealed that something is missing. It seems the older I get, the more I’m starting to realize that something always seems to be lacking. And who knows whether or not another baby is her “missing thing” or not. Maybe she just wants to be in a good place with her husband. I don’t know. Whatever the case, this got me thinking…

No matter what season of life you’re in, there will always be something you feel like you’re missing. Regardless of the accomplishments or milestones you’ve “achieved”—or what your life looks like from the outside—you feel it. Because we all do—whether we realize it or not. Someone else’s grass is always greener.

In Philippians 4:11, Paul talks about contentment; he says he has learned how to be content in all circumstances. It’s kind of funny if you read it; in typical Paul fashion, he says it super matter-of-fact. But I don’t think he means it’s the easiest thing to do. I think this is something he had to fight for every day. (Remember this is a single dude, who had sacrificed marriage and embraced singleness for the good of his gospel work. Before his death he will be shipwrecked, separated from friends, and imprisoned multiple times.)

Back to Paul learning how to be content. I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t think he climbed the “contentment mountain,” got to the top, and never had to work on being content again. He had to choose to climb every single day, relying on God to provide every single need “from the riches of HIS glory . . .” (Philippians 4:19). It didn’t just happen and then “poof,” everything was easy all of a sudden. I think he had to preach the gospel to himself day in and day out.

And yes, there is a certain sense of peace that we can have in our hearts when we remind ourselves of God’s truths BUT as long as we are on this side of heaven, it’s gonna be a fight.

Paul was content in his loneliness, pain, suffering and imprisonment. But really? How? I mean, that seems crazy doesn’t it?

Well, Paul tips his hand early in his letter to the Philippians, he says something really profound, revealing the gateway to his contentment. In Philippians 1:29, Paul says: “for it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” What? Yes. Suffering is a part of life and, (don’t miss this) the path to contentment!

And so it is for us today. At least I know it’s true for me—and most likely you too. There will always be more to do, ways to improve, and something we feel like we’re missing. Our struggles may all look different, but the longing feeling is something I think we all share. And it will often hijack our joy and divert our energy and focus. But what if we could ransom or get back our joy, hope, focus, passion? What if we accepted and even celebrated that this life is about living well in the struggle and longing? What if what I always thought was plan B for my life is God’s plan A? I’m starting to realize that embracing these truths makes all the difference.

They say that all heartache is rooted in unmet expectation. So if we expect our lives to be free from pain or struggle (or that we will eventually be done with the hard things), then I think we are essentially setting ourselves up for failure.

So, what if we just know and accept that the suffering is normal? What if we just embrace the struggle as part of our journey and learn to place our hopes in the Story Writer, rather than the story? Because the truth is, if it’s not this current struggle or longing, then it’ll be something else.

Once we realize this—that the struggle is part of the story God’s working out for us—it really frees us to be content where we are with what we’ve got. It shifts the posture of our hearts and can really transform our experiences. I think chasing this kind of thinking—that Paul seemed to naturally possess—is where the good stuff happens. But keep in mind, I’m still figuring this out too and am writing from a point of “in the middle” rather than “on the other side.”

I’m just now processing all of this. I believe it’s true. In fact, I’ve experienced it from time to time. But I wouldn’t say it’s my go-to “norm” (or default mode) as it seemed to be for Paul. Maybe I’ll get better with time. Maybe it’ll be easier to choose God’s truth each time I decide to do so.

I want peace to be the normal default for me when my expectations don’t match my experiences. I want to remain grounded in my understanding that this life is hard, and suffering isn’t something we should constantly try to avoid, escape, or merely get through. Instead, I’d like to rest in the confidence that this, even this, has a purpose.

I’m not sure that’s something I can just fall into. I need to be prepared. I need to actively be preaching these truths to my heart and reminding myself that God is working in my life RIGHT NOW. And that whatever I’m going through right now is exactly where I’m meant to be. And that He’s teaching me and sanctifying me through every detail of my current story.

So if something feels missing and you can’t put your finger on it, trust me when I say you won’t find it in the next guy or house or career or medication. When you are anchored to eternity, the grip you have on this world will loosen, and you’ll come to agree: “The richest person isn’t the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least.” (Unknown)

So here’s what I’m asking myself today. What if we were prepared that, for the glory of God, we will experience suffering? What do you think about that question? What’s your current struggle? What if there is a purpose in this suffering? What do you think that purpose is?

*

Photo DetailsPJ Salvage Star Hoodie // Levi’s Wedgie Jeans // Vince Slip On Sneakers 

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46 Comments

  • Reply
    Jordan
    January 18, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us, Brighton. This was so well said and something we all need to be reminded of. When I look back on different times of my life, the most growth in faith or changes in my heart have always, always come from times of struggle. Yet I constantly seem to forget that and fall prey to the false idea that we have to get to “the other side”, past suffering. There will always be suffering and we have to choose daily to be content, like you said. Such a challenge! But where God will do amazing work in us if we trust Him.

  • Reply
    Jen
    January 18, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    Contentment and peace, I feel like they are tied together. Thank you for your post, I am a mom and wife who just felt God taught me about true peace and contentment through a tropical and other storm filled family vacation. When I say taught I believe I am still learning this. Learning how to take that peace and contentment found in the simple and storm filled vacation home, where there is an excess of everything.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    January 18, 2018 at 7:54 am

    I read this (finally) and really love how it reminds me that contentment is an everyday struggle and choice on how to view my life. I then pull up one of my favorite podcasts (The Minimalists) and the first question is about how to be content NOW knowing that when we finally obtain our goals, we will not miraculously be content then. WOW. God knows what I have been struggling with. He has used you, your words and journey and this podcast to reach out to me to remember that HE is the way to contentment everyday, to trust in HIM and HIS plan.
    Thank you for the content and thoughts and being brave to share your faith and journey with us. Blessed.

  • Reply
    Amy Michelle
    January 15, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    This is just beautiful, Brighton! I love reading it!

    xoxo,
    Amy
    http://www.styleandsequins.com

  • Reply
    Alyssa
    January 15, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    I just listened to a sermon by Andy Stanley from North Point Church, and it made me think of your post in relation to faith. Andy mentioned that we must have faith to know that God CAN do the things He promised, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that He WILL do them. It’s a constant battle to just let go, and know that God is in control! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Brighton!!

    “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV

    http://northpoint.live/messages/welcome-to-wonderland/faith

  • Reply
    Robin Puelma
    January 15, 2018 at 11:36 am

    This is just WOW—profoundly written, Brighton! I nodded and “uh huh”ed all the way through, esp coal Ly the part about suffering. I lost my Dad last year and the pain and confusion that has come with that has been overwhelming. The idea that suffering is apart of our journey to content just blew my mind—I know we are called to suffer as Christians—but to think of it as conjoined with contentment? Man alive, that’s a hard one to swallow! But so so good to remember. Especially since it means this suffering isn’t WAISTED. Thanks for your vulnerability and truths—this really was encouraging ❤️

    • Reply
      Robin Puelma
      January 15, 2018 at 11:37 am

      (Sorry about the typos! Writing this on my phone and apparently I can’t type 🤦🏻‍♀️)

  • Reply
    Meredith
    January 15, 2018 at 11:19 am

    “… I don’t think he climbed the ‘contentment mountain,’ got to the top, and never had to work on being content again. He had to choose to climb every single day…” Yes, ma’am! I know I have to give my struggles to God ON THE REGULAR!

    Way to go, Brighton. Cheering you on…

  • Reply
    Jaime Wail
    January 14, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    I think it’s a long journey in today’s day and age to learn that contentment and self validation can help you lead a happy life. So often we are consumed by materials, but what we need can always be found within ourselves.

  • Reply
    Jessica
    January 14, 2018 at 11:55 am

    You write so beautifully about such a broken feeling. We definitely all have these moments. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.jessicasbroyles.com

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    January 14, 2018 at 10:07 am

    ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Reply
    Laura
    January 14, 2018 at 8:29 am

    Love this! Thanks for putting in the time to write and post this. Definitely something that is great to hear and a good reminder!

  • Reply
    Mackenzie
    January 13, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    Wow. Thank you SO much for this! I go about so many days in the funk of “when will this end, when will things finally fall into place, etc.” the strangest thing to me is that I’ve been following Christ for pretty much my whole life, and my faith is so strong and my relationship with Him is so deep, YET THE ENEMY STILL created space to give me doubts and discontentment. God is so much bigger than our circumstances!! Thank you for this reminder tonight! You’ve been blessed with an amazing platform and following, I just know He is so, so pleased by you and with the way you’ve utilized it to talk about Him and your testimony

  • Reply
    Debbie
    January 13, 2018 at 9:11 am

    “When you are anchored to eternity, the grip you have on this world will loosen”…..Love this quote!! So good.

  • Reply
    Weekend Reading
    January 13, 2018 at 8:19 am

    […] have a faith in God, don’t talk about it, or are all about it. I really enjoyed this post by Brighton Keller from Brighton the Day about […]

  • Reply
    Eveline
    January 13, 2018 at 3:19 am

    Thanks for sharing! This is so inspiring and describes exactly what I have been through the past months . I came to realise (better late than never) that nothing but God defines my happiness. I have to put my trust in Him everyday and embrace life and enjoy what God gives me day by day. ~ Eveline ~

  • Reply
    Jessica
    January 12, 2018 at 10:36 pm

    I hope you allow all of these comments to resonate with you and you realize what an incredible impact you’re making by encouraging others and speaking His word. Your ability to take scripture and translate it into something so relatable is fascinating and I didn’t want your post to end. You’re truly on top of your game and I hope you keep going full speed because you have recently become my favorite! I go to bed looking forward to reading your posts every night and I originally started following you for outfit inspo which has completely transformed into me seeking your insightful writing. Thank you!

  • Reply
    briana
    January 12, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Love this so much, Brighton. Thanks for sharing some great wisdom.

    briana | youngsophisticate.com

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    January 12, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Great words of wisdom and encouragement. So many are searching for something to fill the hole in their heart so thank you for sharing that it’s through Christ and Christ alone that hole can be filled. Stay strong and keep sharing the Lord.

  • Reply
    Molly
    January 12, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Thank you! Beautiful post for such an important message. Struggling, heartache and pain are and will always be a part of life on this side of Heaven for everyone. God works in beautiful ways when life is really messy…we just have to be open to listening to and following Him.

    • Reply
      Bobbie
      January 12, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      Beautifully said!

  • Reply
    Callie
    January 12, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    You have no idea how much I needed this! The pastor at my church talks a lot about how the majority of the moments in our life are ordinary ones. Not every day contains a mind blowing epiphany or breakthrough where something major just falls into place. My pastor has said that most days are kind of just regular “Tuesdays.” Not the beginning, not the end, not even the very middle. Just an ordinary Tuesday where we wake up, go about our day, go to bed, and wake up and do it again. Even in our ordinary “Tuesday” seasons the Lord is working every step of the way. This is one of the biggest things about what it means to be a Christian…believing and remaining faithful although we can’t directly see or feel what the Lord is doing. Whether or not I can clearly see it, and let’s be honest I usually can’t, I fully believe that God has a plan for every single second of my life. This is something I have to remind myself daily, usually multiple times, and this post was an excellent reminder!! Keep spreading His truth because it offers so much encouragement to so many people in so many walks of life! May we continue to serve Him in the ordinary :)

    • Reply
      Rachel
      January 12, 2018 at 7:05 pm

      So well said Callie! I’ll AMEN that!

  • Reply
    Sonja
    January 12, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    I’m so loving the depth of truth you are sharing. I’m way out of your age bracket, but truth is relevant at every age. You’ve given serious thought and study to write these words and the comments are a good indicator that you’re right in the money! So encouraging to see a beautiful fun and motivated young woman who recognizes what is of real and lasting value. Keep em coming!!😀

  • Reply
    Jenny
    January 12, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    “What if what I always thought was plan B for my life is God’s plan A?” Wow! Writing this down.
    This is just packed full of wisdom – God is truly using you. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    Ashley
    January 12, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. You have such a knack for making scripture so accessible… I struggle with understanding it and finding its relevance in a modern world, yet you seem to do it with ease. Keep these faith-based posts coming!
    -Ashley

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      January 12, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Thank you Ashley, it is definitely something that I have had to practice over and over again. I encourage you to keep practicing. It still takes me awhile to break down scripture, but I find it so rewarding when I do.

  • Reply
    Allison Brister
    January 12, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Great blog post! I really needed to hear this. Contentment is something I always struggle with. I love where you talk about every day choosing contentment. It is not just a one time decision that will last you the next month. It is an every day thing.

  • Reply
    Nicole
    January 12, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Wow. You have no idea how much I needed to read this this morning. My family suffered a great unexpected loss yesterday, and we often find ourselves questioning “why” although we know we will never get the answer while on this Earth. Thank you for your beautifully written words. You are speaking to so many. God has a way of speaking to us in the most random ways doesn’t He?

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      January 12, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      Thank you for responding. I feel like God speaks to us when we are at our most difficult times and you are obviously choosing to hear him! My condolences to your family, but His plans are far greater than we could ever imagine. Keep pushing through

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    January 12, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Literal tears rolling down my face as I’m finishing reading this. You have such a great way with words and are truly talented at re speaking God’s Truth for us in ways we can relate too! Thanks for writing this article. Every word said was every word I needed to Hear. Thank you

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      January 12, 2018 at 2:27 pm

      LOVE LOVE LOVE! You are incredibly sweet for commenting. All the glory and message is from God and I can not take credit for that. He truly has blessed me with the opportunity to share His word and I love every minute of it.

  • Reply
    Whitney
    January 12, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Yep to this. All of it. Every single bit.

  • Reply
    Julie
    January 12, 2018 at 10:06 am

    You are an incredible writer! I found so much encouragement in this post, what a great start and mindset shift to start the day with!

  • Reply
    Rebecca Drew
    January 12, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Reading your post and the comments reminds me that all of us truly want our sufferings and pain to have purpose, to be worth it. Somehow, knowing that there is purpose makes tre pain just a little bit worth it, it elevates what we’re going through. I absolutely agree that our Story Writer can give us this confidence that the eternal weight of glory is will outshine our current darkness. Of course, when we see that there is a Story Writer, a sovereign Lord crafting these hard things into our stories, that raises another problem for us to work through. Is our God really good? Does He do for me what I really expect? Does He always give me what I need? Is He strong enough to deliver me? Does He want to deliver me? So many hard questions. I’ve asked myself many of these questions through the years in relationship heartbreaks, and disappointments, rejections, depression, life-threatening illness, loneliness, joblessness, etc. And I still don’t have answers to most of them. Do I still trust Him? Yes, I do. Because when I see it and when I don’t, I choose to believe that He is good. I choose to believe that the Bible is true and that one day the hard things will bring about glory. But, I have begun to understand why it’s hard for so many women to believe these truths about God when their stories have been filled with lots of pain, deeper pain than what I have walked through, with all types of abuse and hardship. I have become more sensitive. Hopefully, I judge less. It has taken me 44 years to discover that in God’s economy, and specifically in my own life, there isn’t a single ounce of my suffering that He wastes. He sees it all, He loves me through it all (even when I can’t see His hands at the moment), and He uses it all to accomplish far greater, beautiful, mysterious things than I could ever imagine or understand. He is by His very nature, Good. He defines Good as a matter of fact. Sometimes the difficulty comes because my expectation of good doesn’t match His kind of Goodness. This is exactly what you are talking about, Brighton. That when we can surrender our expectations a little bit to this God we have learned (doesn’t come easy) to trust, then we can begin to embrace Hus Good that He writes into our lives even when it seemingly contradicts with our version. Anywho, sorry for the extra long comment! :) In short, I agree! :)

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      January 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      Preach, girl!! You have a gift for sharing the Word and that is truly amazing. Keep on sharing!

  • Reply
    Taylor Brown
    January 12, 2018 at 9:35 am

    This is probably one of my favorite posts by you! It is so encouraging and speaks so much truth!

  • Reply
    Emily
    January 12, 2018 at 9:18 am

    So encouraged by your words, Brighton! My husband and I are from different countries and we are currently living overseas where he’s from in the UK. It is a DAILY struggle for me not to compare my life with my friends’ lives back in the States. Or to think that if we just moved back to where I’m from then everything would be better or easier. You’re so right in saying that if it wasn’t this current struggle, it would be something else. I think God uses the hardship in our lives to remind us that we need Him more than anything else we seek. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability!

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      January 12, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      You’ve got this! I can’t imagine living overseas, but what a great opportunity for you to share your faith with those around you. So many people don’t get to experience living in another country and that is a huge blessing for y’all. Your struggles have a purpose and God’s plans are great.

  • Reply
    Erin
    January 12, 2018 at 9:17 am

    This was the BEST way to start my day. I love where you say “place our hopes in the Story Writer, rather than the story…” Not everything is in our control, a realization that is so hard for a certifed “control freak” like myself. :-) I need to remember that reality rarely meets expectations. Sometimes it exceeds it, but going into everything expecting a specific outcome is not healthy. I’d like peace to be my norm, too. Thank you again, Brighton, for always being a light of inspiration. I come back here again and again because of the relevant substance you bring to your blog. Have a great day!

  • Reply
    Heather
    January 12, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this post. I truly appreciate what you had to say. I have never read your blog before – I was so pleasantly surprised to begin reading and immediately discover you were talking about God and His ways and plans for us. What you had to say speaks to all us – no matter our age or situation in life. Have a blessed day!

  • Reply
    Audrey
    January 12, 2018 at 8:53 am

    So much yes to this! I just turned 29 and recently got out of a relationship. I’m looking at this as “why me” and all the expectations I had for myself at this point in life. I want to put it in God’s hands and for Him to know I truly trust His plans for me. Thank you for this post, I think you’re right that no matter where we are in life we’re going to feel something is “lacking” and to think how much peace we could bring to our lives if we start embracing it. <3

    • Reply
      Brighton Keller
      January 12, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      Hahah, you and I are in the same place. I constantly remind myself that I’m abundantly blessed and need to embrace where God has placed me NOW.

  • Reply
    Renee
    January 12, 2018 at 7:08 am

    Love this post. This is so relevant to me right now. I’ve been struggling with health issues the last year and I’ve gone through the full range of emotions- confusion, anger, resentment, hope, back to anger… and it’s a good reminder that I may not understand it right now, but that my suffering and this journey has a purpose. Maybe it’s to make my faith stronger…Maybe it’s for His glory… it’s still a daily struggle and I have to remind myself to lean into Him rather than be angry and feel sorry for myself. Thank you for a beautiful post!

  • Reply
    Olatunji
    January 12, 2018 at 6:41 am

    So nicely written,

    personally, I ‘ve always believe that there is a purpose behind every single occurrence that comes across the part of every human being.

    Seeking the purposes and the reasons why God allows some things to take place in our lives can go a long way to set our focus on the right things of life.

    Thanks for the post

  • Reply
    maggie
    January 12, 2018 at 6:34 am

    Love this!

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