Seven years ago, my husband and I set out on an adventure of our lifetime. We packed up everything we owned into a moving van and hit the road cross-country to South Dakota. About a week later, dragging my beat-up Dodge Neon (that’s another story) behind, we pulled into our new home- a 1970s trailer that had been vacant for almost four years. After moving in and all our support had left, reality sunk in. We were in a “foreign” land all by ourselves, forced to carve out a new life and relationships.
My husband quickly found a job. However, a fulltime job for a woman was harder to find unless you drove an hour or more away to bigger towns. A great distance was a great obstacle because we were an one car family, at the time. Reality hit like a ton of bricks. This adventure was going to be harder than I thought.
The First Winter
Our first winter was the worst the area had seen in a long time. Everyone kept telling us, “It usually isn’t like this. You picked a bad winter to start living here.” We soon found out that our trailer apparently was not at all build for hard South Dakota winters. Staying warm meant wearing three to four layers of clothes INSIDE the house! Snow began to appear INSIDE our window and doors. An electric blanket was the best Christmas present we received that year.
Needless to say, my adventure started to become very lonely. My husband worked anywhere from 10 to 12 hours a day. I very rarely left the house. My husband was beginning a church, so for the first few years we had very few participants at church services, mostly one adult at times and several children.
For many years, I lived in total discontentment. Yearning for vacations when we could return “home” to see family and friends became my only comfort. I missed the convenience and experiences of “home”. Happiness in this area seemed out of reach.
Journeying through Discontent
So I pose a question. How do you become content when you are clearly discontent?
Simply, for me, it has been a long process. A process seven years still in the making. Below are a few things that has helped me become more content.
- Finding contentment of “home” in God. The reason that we moved to South Dakota was that the Lord called us here. He had and still has a plan for us. We are to find our joy in the presence of the Lord, despite our surroundings. Once I began digging deeper as to why I was so unhappy, God revealed to me that I was trying to root my happiness and contentment in material and convenient things and not finding peace and joy in Him. My contentment to form the day I total surrender all my unhappiness to Him.
- Finding contentment by embracing your surroundings. Have you ever felt that the place God was leading you was unlovable? I felt that way once. Not about the people, but about the area in which we lived. I even prayed at one time that God would change my husband’s call to some more desirable place. Then, our family began to embrace the beauty that God created here. One way is through history and nature. We love history. So, we took that love and began to learn the history of the area. Taking one day trips to historic landmarks and culturally rich destinations has helped us loved South Dakota. Now living on an Indian reservation, the importance of the Lakota culture has become key in helping us understand and love the people around us. Our family also has discovered a love for camping and fishing. There are plenty of places here to carve out that love more.
- Finding contentment by making our house our “home.” In seminary, I heard a mk (missionary kid) once say that she always felt at home, no matter what country they were in, because her mother took time to make their home a safe and comfortable place for their family. Her mother would decorate for special occasions and create special traditions to help her family have a consistent and loving place to retreat from the outside world. I have always remembered this and try to implement this thought into our family’s home. I have created a nest where my husband and my children can feel safe, loved, and feel content.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. Psalm 84:5
Contentment is a state of mind and heart that derives from God. Our family has a motto, “thrive, not just survive.” To thrive, you have to battle discontentment on all levels -spiritually and physical. If you allow your discontented heart to stay that way, the enemy will try to guide to look for happiness outside of God and his ways. Start your pilgrimage today to thrive!
Check out more South Dakota pictures by clicking here.
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