For Better or Worse: Journeying Toward Contentment

Written with love, by Karley Kiker

What if this is it?

Have you ever asked yourself that question, particularly in relation to your marriage?

What if his salary never increases? What if we’re stuck in this apartment forever? What if I never get the chance to pursue MY dreams? What if we never have children?

Us “achievement driven” personality types tend to be like that—fearful in the stillness, overly introspective. We scan our resumes constantly inside our heads, wondering what other people think about what we're doing now and next; if they tsk and they tut and they whisper that we never quite measured up to our potential.

Am I a disappointment? Are they happier than we are? Am I doing this marriage thing wrong? Are we missing out on something?

Afraid of the answers to these questions, we put our heads down and we work. Hard. We set out to prove to ourselves and our spouses and that gallery of imaginary onlookers that we are capable of more. We assure ourselves that once we get that raise, or travel to that country, or get that degree, or make an offer on that house, we'll find it. Contentment.

The feeling that we've "made it." That we've "arrived." That we've attained the fulfillment, peace, and unshakeable assurance we've been longing for. That finally, we’re riding into the sunset of the happily-ever-after fairy tale Disney promised us.

 Bleudog Fotography

Bleudog Fotography

I was living and working as an au pair in Monaco when the Lord first spoke this into my life: "I am enough."

During that time I was spending weekends traveling to Saint Tropez, Cannes, and Venice. The house I was living in was built on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. The jogging trails I ran boasted views of snow-capped mountains on one side and the beach on the other. Walking into town was like getting a front-row seat at fashion week. Quite literally, the best of everything was laid out before me. It was glittery and it was romantic. But it wasn't enough. I was lonely. I craved companionship. I dreaded the quietness of the house when the family left for the day.

As a married couple, Taylor and I experienced the same thing while traveling as a team to Europe last year, which has always been a dream of ours. Did we see incredible things? Yes. Did all of our problems magically disappear simply because we were surrounded by castles and cobblestone? Um, not even close. We still fought. We still got antsy. We still got tired. The issues we deal with at home didn’t stay there—they came with us in our backpacks and demanded just as much attention as usual.

I don’t have a “5 Ways to Find Contentment” article for you today, but what I do have is a verse that, believe it or not, actually ties into the marriage vows that many of us exchanged.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength." Phil. 4:12-13

“For better or for worse.” “For richer or poorer.” These things are easy to promise amid the excitement of the wedding day, but so much more difficult to live out. I’m still learning the art of (daily) finding contentment in all facets of my life, a process that usually begins with ditching the practice of comparison. At my worst, I give in to looking at all the things about my life that aren’t what or where I want them to be. But at my best, here’s what I believe:

I believe that if I spend the rest of my life bringing the Lord glory by making my husband's lunch, it is possible for me to not only be "okay," but to be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." I believe that I can be deeply satisfied in exercising the gifts the Lord has given me, even if the books I write are never published. I believe I can find purpose in speaking into the heart of just one person and loving them well, even if my platform never grows any bigger. I believe that life is a vapor, and no matter how many pretty things or experiences I accumulate while on this earth, I cannot take them with me when I die. I believe that even if I lost the people, the things, and the dreams I treasure most; even if one day I find myself standing alone in the middle of my darkest hour; even then Christ's grace will be sufficient for me. Even then I can find joy. Even then I can rest in the knowledge that He—not my husband, not my job, not my status—is my all in all, and He is enough.