Thursday, July 14, 2011

GUEST POST: Happiness vs. Contentment

This week's guest post is written by Donna Fagerstrom. Donna was the worship leader at the Speak Up with Confidence Seminar I had the privilege of attending a few weeks back. I was instantly struck by the joy on her face. "Happy" would have been a perfect word to describe her. She was "home" when I saw her, and she was enjoying every minute. :) She has a truly joyful heart and a very giving spirit. You really cannot help but love her. I hope you are encouraged as you find bits and pieces of Donna's journey toward contentment that you are able to relate to today. God bless you. Here's what Donna had to say:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

I Timothy 6:6

Throughout my life there have been times that I was seeking godliness and it was during those times I found great contentment. I remember when I was attending a Women’s Bible study on I and II Timothy. When we got to the verse above I knew I wanted to know how to achieve that powerful combination of godliness and contentment. However, I was not sure of the relationship between happiness and contentment. I found that I often confused those two.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAPPINESS AND CONTENTMENT

I went to good old “Mr. Webster to look up the definitions of happiness and contentment. This is what I found.

  • Happiness is “feeling pleased or fortunate.”
  • Contentment is “a contented state.”

Those two words couldn’t be more different in definition or experience. Happiness is a moment in time. Contentment is a place where we live. Who doesn’t want to be happy - to enjoy every moment of life? However, as we know, happiness is so fleeting. It lasts as long as the experience. (And I am grateful that I have memories of those happy moments in time.)

MY EXPERIENCE

I must admit during this past year I have struggled with being “happy.” While there have been many “happy” moments, there are other times when I have not found that to be true. I failed. That bothers me because I want to always walk in His will and serve Jesus as an authentic follower of Christ.

I believe there are different benchmarks in our faith walk which helps us monitor where we are in our journey. I’m eternally grateful for the twenty consecutive years God allowed us to serve Him in one city. In that place I made friendships for a lifetime. I know there are sisters in that city who faithfully pray for me, even now. I know it will always be “home.”

When God knocked on my hearts door saying He had another plan and place for my life, I was shocked to say the least. I had begun to believe that after twenty years in one place, this must be where He wanted me and my husband to “finish well”. He revealed once again that His ways are not mine and His thoughts are far higher than mine.

Jesus asked my husband and me to leave everyone and everything we had grown to love to serve Him in a place we had no desire to live in. Some, who know me, may be rolling their eyes about now, but to us this place God called us to live felt to me like just a nice place to visit, and nothing more. Nonetheless, He called. We answered. We packed our stuff and one year ago this past week we moved with the wonderful help of our daughter and son-in-love.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY EXPERIENCE

It was hard. To be a genuine follower of Jesus, I kept quoting Scripture in my heart praying it would go to my head. As I continued in my study and reading of God’s Word I was reminded over and over again that none of this is about me. It’s all about HIM! Did I really mean it when I said as the prophet Isaiah vowed in chapter six, verse eight, Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Would I find happiness or contentment?

I remember voicing the Isaiah prayer as a teenager when I received the call for full-time ministry. I remember saying those words when God brought my husband and me together in marriage. I remember praying, “Send me!” when He called us to our first, second, third and the fourth church we left one year ago. Once again, God reminded me of his call. Would I be willing to go for Him? Would I follow Jesus… regardless of the place?

Over the course of time I’ve had several people ask me, “How do you like your new place, are you happy there?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m humbled beyond belief that God would use this broken jar of clay in this great ministry. But to honestly answer the question I wouldn’t say that happiness would define my heart. Ah… there is something more. I am grateful to say that I have worked through this journey of uprooting and saying good-bye to family, friends and a wonderful ministry. I can honestly say now that I am at a point where I can say I am content.

I AM CONTENT!!! :)

I am content that God has chosen to now use us in a way I never could have dreamed. The opportunities for ministry are enormous. There are brand new friendships. I’m content that happiness for today isn’t all that is important to me, but “contentment with godliness is great gain.” Now, that is important to me. And now, happiness is beginning to follow.

I want my life to make a difference. I want my life to bring Him honor and glory. I want to be “in that state” which is “His state.” As we serve Jesus, we are in a rehearsal at this present time getting ready for our audience of One. Will you join with me in seeking contentment for your life as God leads and directs you? I’m learning it’s the only way to “fly.”

Lord Jesus, I don’t have words adequate enough to thank you for helping me to learn this invaluable lesson once again on contentment. Thank you for the work that you continually do in our lives until we “get it.” Thank you for your graciousness in not letting it take me years to come to this place and sadly missing out on the many blessings you’ve poured out on us in this year alone. You are Faithful Father, always. May I always be Your Faithful Daughter! In Your Holy Name, Amen

About the Author: Donna Fagerstrom has joyfully served in the pastorate world for 31 years, along with her husband Doug. Donna has led worship in each church they have been in during those years. Doug and Donna are also both published authors. Together they have one daughter, Darci, who got married to Jay Irwin giving them both what Donna affectionately refers to as her "son-in-love". In 2010 the Lord “converged” all of their ministry experiences and asked them to serve as Senior Vice President of Converge Worldwide in Orlando, Florida. Currently they are helping lead their staff to minister to our nation and worldwide. Donna reminds us there is JOY in serving Jesus and others.

· To learn more about Converge Worldwide ministry, you may go here.

1 comment:

Becki said...

Loved this! That's my Donna <3