When I was young, I used to fear getting older. When I was a child, 30 sounded very old to me. But my mother used to tell me that every “season” of life has its beauty. I’ve come to understand that, and say the same to my own children.
In my present season in my 50s (my age is still shocking to me), I am happier than I have ever been in my life, even though I live with far less than I have in the last 25 years, and nearly all of my family has passed away. Experience has taught me that “things” are not important, people are. And the more “things” you possess, the more you have to manage. And that leads to stress. I’ve learned that you can only have so many things in your home to keep it tidy, so when another thing comes home, usually something has to go out.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a minimalist. I’m very aesthetic, and my house is decorated in an abundantly country theme, and my garden is one of the great joys of my life. But my house is fairly small and manageable, as is my yard. (This is all relative, since I know that some people on the east coast must live in very small digs.) And every time I come home, my little house seems to envelope me in a hug.
My age has taught me to appreciate the simple and beautiful things in life. I was at the nursery the other day, and laid eyes on a plant I’ve been coveting for a few weeks now, but had denied myself, thinking I’d bought enough for the year. It’s a coneflower, and the purest red I’ve ever seen. Even the “cone” has red tinges. If you garden, you know that coneflowers have never been red, and have only been introduced in the last few years. As I stared at it, I heard the Lord speak to my heart, “Get it. I want you to have it. From Me.” I’ve placed it on my front porch–I don’t want to plant it yet, because I want it up close where I can see it every day–and now every time I look upon it, I think of Him, and imagine how incredibly beautiful the colors in heaven must be.
This is contentment. This is the “abundant life” that Jesus spoke of. He wasn’t talking about lots of possessions and lots of money. He was speaking of being given new eyes to see the beauty that is around us, and an appreciation for the truly valuable things in life.
My dear friend Joey invited me down to her home about a month ago so she could teach me how to can fruit–something I’ve always wanted to do. We canned peaches, and when I saw those jars lined up on her countertop on a towel, each filled with those golden peach halves, and sealed with those shiny old-fashioned lids, I marveled at the beauty. Wow, I thought. So this is what I’ve missed out on all my life.
It’s the little things in life that make it truly magical. There’s a small town nearby that I drive to a few times a week, so I can ride my bike down the trail. In that town is a small bakery that I finally discovered, after living here for nearly two years. Oh my gosh. After never having lived near a bakery like this, it is a boon to me. The first time I went in, and gazed upon the huge assortment of pastries, I asked the employee what he suggested. He pointed at a pastry called “cream cheese pear pastry.” He said that it is very popular, and that people come from miles to get them. I stared at it…hmmm…of all the pastries, that would have been the last I would have chosen. But I trusted him, and bought one. Oh…my…goodness. Heaven. Absolute heaven. Now, I nearly always stop by the bakery when I’m in that town with my bike.
Every morning, when it is not overcast (which it is 8 months a year here), I look up at the dark sky when I let the dogs out, and there, twinkling brightly, is the beautiful morning star. And I always smile and say “Good Morning” to Jesus, “the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star.” (Revelation 22:16) I appreciate that star so much, because I only have a handful of months a year to gaze upon it.
Contentment also comes from an attitude of gratitude. After going through a painful divorce, my home signifies freedom to me, and God’s abundant provision. I sit down in my prayer chair almost every morning and talk with the Lord, and nearly every day, I thank Him for what He has done for me. I often talk to Him about how far He has brought me, and how He has upheld me every step of the way. There’s nothing like looking back, and seeing what He has done, to make you love Him and appreciate Him like never before.
If you are hurrying through life, or feeling stressed to the max, ask God to give you new eyes. Ask Him to give you the “abundant life” He wants you to have. You may already have it in your grasp, but you need the eyes to see it. And once you do, you’ll be amazed at what is around you, that you never saw before.