by Dena Dyer @DenaJDyer
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-15 NIV
In the spring after we married, my husband Carey and I auditioned for a professional Christian musical production on the life of Christ. The director spoke so highly of both Carey and me after we sang, we felt confident he’d offer us roles.
Indeed, Carey was cast in a leading part–but I was chosen for the large chorus and as an understudy for one of the leading ladies.
Understudy again? I thought. I am so tired of this! Since high school, it seemed I was always the alternate or the understudy. Though I’m ashamed to admit it now, I became jealous of Carey. I was also envious of the woman cast in the role I had to learn–but not perform.
Sinful much? Sigh. Even though I’d been a Christian since I was seven years old, I still had a long way to go in order to be Christlike. I questioned my appearance, talent, and personality. And I felt sorry for myself. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride…
It’s clear now: God wanted more for me than applause and accolades. Throughout my teens and twenties, I set loftier and loftier goals for myself and was never satisfied. Instead of working on things I could control—by reading the Bible, honing my talents, and praying for God to use me as He thought best—I worked against myself. By focusing on accomplishments rather than obedience, I robbed myself of contentment.
Thankfully, God broke me of my perfectionism a few years later. It wasn’t fun, and it didn’t happen overnight. But I’m unspeakably grateful that He didn’t give up on me.
In Philippians 2, Paul encourages the church at Philippi to not complain or argue, and to hold firmly to the word of God. Jesus is known as “the Word made flesh,” and when we hold onto Him, we become blameless and pure–by His grace and mercy and not by our efforts. Then we can be a shining light in a dark world.
Our Heavenly Father is so immeasurably good to us. Like a master craftsman, He hones and perfects our rough edges. His goal is to make us more like Jesus, and He is a patient, loving artist who sees the women we were created to be and isn’t content until we’re fully transformed.
A few years after my temper tantrum over being cast as the understudy, God gave my husband and me the unique opportunity to be one of six lead singers in a Christian-owned professional music theater company in our town. We served with that cast for a total of eleven years, raising our children and getting to tuck them into bed nightly (a rarity in entertainment). The owners of the theater even paid our health insurance.
God is faithful, friends. He knows our desires, and He knows our secret thoughts. And when we align ourselves with His will instead of insisting on our own timetable, He gives us far more than we expect or even deserve.
I want to be a content and grateful woman of God who seeks His face and approval, not the applause of men or the accolades of our culture.
Won’t you join me in praying for God to transform us, so we can shine for Him?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me when I complain or argue about my circumstances. Instead, help me focus on your goodness and grace. Make me more like Jesus so I can shine His light in this dark world. Amen.
About the author: Dena Dyer is the author or co-author of ten books for women and hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers, and websites. She lives in Texas with Carey and their sons Jordan and Jackson. She loves bargain shopping, decorating, and traveling. Find Dena on Instagram and Facebook, or at her website.
Dena and Carey’s book, Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples (Barbour) will give your marriage encouragement and hope when you find that the once endearing, charming, and distinct qualities that once attracted you to your spouse are now a source of stress and conflict.
Join the conversation: How do you find contentment?