Contentment! A precious gift one can so easily lose. . .
During one of my final candidate interviews in 1950, I was asked, Do you, as a single young woman, realize that on most of our SIM fields there are about thirty single women global workers to one single man, thus making the opportunities for marriage rare on the field? Are you prepared for this? I could honestly answer, Yes, because I had fought and won this battle on my knees. I knew the Lord Jesus would be all that I would need as a single person.
Contentment and fulfillment were real over most of my time as a global worker in Nigeria. Then something happened to rob me of them.
Stationed with three global working families, I was more than busy with a heavy teaching schedule and saw little of the global workers on our compound, except for “Susan” whose house was just a stone’s throw from mine. Many late afternoons I returned from school and stopped for a brief chat and sharing time with “Susan.” She and her husband had three small sons. Since those brief visits were near supper-time, I’d smell the freshly baked bread, a roast cooking, or some other delicious food aroma. Early on, it just seemed wonderful.
However, I gradually began to compare “Susan’s” blessings with mine, especially her easy lifestyle. And just as gradually, for the first time in my global working life, jealousy of married global working women crept in. I wasn’t jealous of them having husbands, but of their less-pressured schedules, of their free time at home, of the social life they had together. I even resented their having four-burner stoves while single global workers had just three—a fact that hadn’t bothered me for twenty-some years before.
I began noticing that “Susan’s” lights were still off when I headed out for school each morning. I begrudged them the freedom to sleep in. Then those same lights would go off at a decent hour each night, while I’d still be grading a stack of papers or writing lesson plans. Judgmental comparisons grew in my thinking. The little foxes that spoil the vines were really making subtle, destructive inroads! This didn’t happen suddenly, but oh so gradually, so slyly. I ceased dropping in on my neighbor for late afternoon chats, and God’s special gift of contentment, with its joy and peace, ceased as well.
Then one day, “Susan” came my way! She came, not for a friendly visit, but because she had had her fill of it! She, a more courageous person than I, came to pour out her frustration, her hurts, and her anger. She had watched, had envied my freedom to get up very early for uninterrupted quiet times. She had little feet tagging after her, or little voices calling out to her when she slipped out of bed to be alone with the Lord in the Word. She had witnessed my freedom to get in the car and drive away for an entire day, free of household duties, while her day was a different story. It began with three little boys and a husband requiring full attention, a day of cooking, washing diapers, baking, settling quarrels, cooking again,
washing, and on and on. Then as night came, she had witnessed and resented my freedom to stay up late, while lights had to go out early in her house to please a spouse. To my friend, my side of the fence had very green grass. And it wasn’t fair!
As we poured out our feelings, we experienced conviction, confession, forgiveness, prayer, healed broken hearts and a new acceptance of God’s Word.
The gift of contentment was mine again, with its resulting joy and peace because I realized anew that the Lord Jesus was truly everything I needed. Just as He said He would be on that day in 1950. And just as He is today.
Mabel served in Nigeria for many years.
View the original print magazine where this article was first published.