I know we are all familiar with the Bluebird of Happiness, that elusive creature that conjures up images of Cinderella and Snow White singing with nature. It's the idea of a magical happiness that is as beautiful as a bluebird sitting on your shoulder.
Cue the contended sigh.
Recently, though, I was introduced to the bluebird's lesser known, more somber cousin: the Pigeon of Discontent. According to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping magazine, "A Pigeon of Discontent isn't a major happiness challenge, but rather, an ordinary problem that has settled in to roost." Yep, that sounds about right.
Now, Gretchen and I have one seemingly semantic yet actually important difference: I don't really think that happiness should be our ultimate goal. I am aiming for contentment, something that comes from trusting and resting in the Lord; not happiness, a fleeting emotion that is self-centered and relies on my circumstances. STILL, I have found her book and blog to be interesting and to have some good points, not the least of which is that dreaded pigeon.
That pigeon has been pecking at me lately. It comes at me in the form of a whining child, a scheduling mix-up with my husband, a hungry baby who refuses to eat his favorite food. Small things. Mundane, daily things. Peck, peck, peck.
It baffles me, this pigeon. God has been doing some major work on my heart lately. He is leading me somewhere, and I am excited (and anxious and a little bit scared) to see where we are going. I have been faithfully trusting Him, making some sacrifices, changing some habits, knowing that He has a plan. I think big changes are coming, though I don't know exactly what they are. And some of the sacrifices and changes He has called me to have been difficult, but I have done them gladly.
So can someone explain to me why I can handle the big things with no problem, but I can't seem to escape this darn pigeon? How can I devote my life to God, hope to use my LIFE to serve Him... and then get completely derailed when my 7-year-old comes home with a tummyache? How can I be willing to travel around the world for Him when I cried at the local McDonald's a few days ago?
Three words: Chinese water torture. Drip, drip, drip. It's not the size of the issues, it's the sheer number, the constant pestering. Drip, drip, drip. They wear us down.
As I have been writing, a verse has been running through my mind: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9) Doing good is wearying--really? Shouldn't it feel GREAT? In a perfect world, yes. In a fallen world, we have the pigeon of discontent. He is there to distract us, to wear us down, to take our focus off of the big picture so that we focus on the little discontentments. He is there to make us weary and ineffective.
I wish I could summarize this with "The 5 Ways to Shoo Away the Pigeon of Discontent", but I don't have 'em, friends. I am right in the thick of it. But this one thing I know: I keep coming back to one of my favorite verses, "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." (Psalm 68:19) It doesn't say He bears the BIG burdens or He picks them up when He knows we have a lot going on or even when HE doesn't have too much going on. He bears our burdens EVERY. DAY. Big and small, important and mundane. We can hand them over.
Sometimes, on days when the Pigeon has gotten the best of me, and I collapse into bed feeling defeated, I picture myself staggering up to Jesus carrying a heavy sack. I drop it at His feet with a thud. He picks it up easily, puts His hand on my shoulder, and says, "I've got this. Don't worry."
Come to think of it, there's another verse that talks about being weary...
"Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)