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This year, our Summer Sampler theme dovetails with our mentoring endeavors. As you know, by design is dedicated to fostering healthy spiritual mentoring relationships among the generations. As we seek to learn from each other, one concept that comes up frequently is the desire to learn from those before us and pass on our experience to those coming after. In this series, we will learn the hard-won lessons from women who have been walking with the Lord and have some wisdom to share. We hope that you’re blessed and enriched by their stories.

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By Pauline Morgan

Looming in the near future is my 70th birthday. When I became a believer at 16, my life looked very different. And the one thing I learned much later in life that I wish I knew at 16 was the fulfillment in life that you experience when you “get” what it means to be content.

Mick Jagger sang “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” in the early 1960s but several years later wisely sang “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The refrain of that song is “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard you just might find that you get what you need.”

Truer words were never spoken! Except in Scripture! One of my life verses is 1 Timothy 6:6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Being a perfectionist for most of my life, I struggled with being content. My understanding of “content” meant to settle for something less than perfect … in my jobs, my relationships, and even my faith. Contentment would happen when everything was perfect … the way I wanted it to be. And once I was perfectly satisfied, then I would be content in life.

But at 40 years old, I began to realize that my life was never going to be what I envisioned. It was very depressing. I plowed through life hoping at every turn that one thing would be perfect in my life! That I would get married, that I would have a baby, that I would have a home, that I would have a job I really liked, that I’d be able to travel, that I would have enough money for retirement, that I would lose the excess weight. I was a believer serving God, yet feeling unfulfilled.

But during that dark time, my eyes were drawn to 1 Timothy 6:6 and the exploration of what godliness meant. I had just moved from the city to a beautiful apartment in the suburbs. After lunch one Sunday, having just transcribed sermon notes, I prayed I would learn about godliness so I could know contentment. I picked up the Sunday Globe and started to look at the advertisements from Ames, Bradlees, and Kmart. Suddenly I was redecorating my apartment … new curtains, throw pillows, tablecloths, towels … I was making a list for each store when suddenly I heard in my mind (and heart) “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I am not sure how God got my attention, but the list started having things crossed off as unneeded. I felt a sense of shame and ungratefulness and started to pray and thank God for everything surrounding me in my lovely, comfortable apartment. Next thing I knew, I was offering my apartment for the Ladies Bible Study on Monday nights. Something in me had changed.

I’d like to tell you that from that step of obedience everything fell into place in my life. Well, it did! Just not how I imagined. I never married or had a baby, but as I walked in contentment in each of the other areas, things radically changed. I started to be more fruitful in ministry, eventually stepping into roles with by design ministries and as director of Women’s Ministry for my church. I left a job of 27 years, and God provided a job where I worked for 16 more years … long enough to make up financially for being in a lower-paying job for 27 years. I retired at 63 to have more time to give to ministry opportunities. After having knee replacements, I was finally able to travel. I haven’t lost the excess weight, but for some crazy reason it keeps me humble before God (don’t ask me to explain that, it just does).

So I think I found the key to contentment … it is godliness … and the practicalities of godliness, of seeking God in the pain of dissatisfaction. It caused me to find that “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard you just might find that you get what you need.” Thanks, Mick!

Pauline Morgan loves her big, wide life even though it is not what she always pictured. The adventure she has embarked upon since meeting Jesus at 16 has never failed in the years she has been walking with Him. She loves His Word and every opportunity she has to proclaim, preach, and teach it. The ministry of lovingly encouraging believing women to grow in faith and step out in ministry is closely held in her heart. Pauline enjoys travel, ministry, many different kinds of music, luxury camping, espionage books, and movies. Single with no children, she has a well-developed skill in spoiling her grown nieces and her friends’ children. She’s hoping for more time to devote to a new hobby of watercolor painting … that is, if life slows down!