Cultivating Contentment: Author Pam Hillman on Change and Contentment

June 27, 2019


In The Crossing at Cypress Creek by Pam Hillman, when Irishman Caleb O’Shea arrives in Natchez, Mississippi, he isn’t planning to stay there long. But things might just turn out very differently.

If you’ve ever had life turn out to be the opposite of what you had wanted or even planned, you know it can be difficult to be content. In this post, read what Pam Hillman wrote about change and cultivating contentment.

I have never liked change. Change makes me nervous.

I used to pride myself on my “staying” power. I worked for the same company for 28 years, after all. I’ve lived in three different homes throughout my life, each within a few miles of the others. It takes me months to decide if I should trade cars, then even longer to research what kind I should invest in. I debated buying a new laptop for over a year. That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?

My natural inclination is to do the same tried and true thing over and over. However, as I’ve grown older and more confident in my ability to adapt, I’ve discovered that some change is good and oftentimes needed.

Even then, I don’t make major decisions lightly. I prayed about quitting my day job (you know, the one I’d had for almost three decades) for years. It was a good job, with wonderful Christian employers and coworkers, people I had grown to love. But I longed to work from home. I ended up juggling that job, pursuing publication, and moonlighting on staff for a writers’ organization for several years before God said it was time. He made a way—a way I would never have dreamed possible. And just like that, in the space of a couple of months, I was working from home, filled with peace that I’d done the right thing. I haven’t regretted that decision. Not once.

But in those years of waiting on God’s timing, I cultivated contentment.

In Philippians, Paul says he’s learned to be content in whatever state he finds himself. We know a lot of the change in Paul’s life was not by choice but was forced on him. Yes, after his conversion, Paul was fully committed to spreading the gospel and going wherever God sent him, but I wouldn’t think that beatings, imprisonment, shipwreck, and house arrest were necessarily what he expected. But he was content because he relinquished control to God. Before his conversion, he was the one in control. Or so he thought.

And therein lies the rub.

According to Psalm 37:23, the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Not to say that a good man or woman can’t get out of step with God’s plans. We can. And that’s what Caleb O’Shea did in my novel The Crossing at Cypress Creek. Big time. By most standards, abandoning his family in Ireland to crisscross the globe as a mercenary and a soldier of fortune was out of step with God’s will for Caleb’s life. But who of us hasn’t misstepped at some point in our lives? God has a way of putting us back on the right path regardless of the detours we insist on taking. As Caleb draws closer to God’s will for his life, the things he thought he wanted are no longer important or even desirable.

I can’t even begin to say that I’ve had any kind of horrific change thrust upon me. My life has been blessed beyond measure compared to the life of Paul, or even the lives of my fictional characters.

However, I’d like to think that in similar circumstances, I would believe and accept that God is always in control. I’d like to think that, like Paul, I can be content in the direst of circumstances, trusting God to hold me up and pull me through until He’s ready to orchestrate the next big change in my life.

Buy The Crossing at Cypress Creek novel by author Pam Hillman

The Crossing at Cypress Creek by Pam Hillman

The Crossing at Cypress Creek by Pam HillmanSailing and soldiering around the world has taken Caleb O’Shea far from his native Ireland, so he never imagined that a promise to see a fellow crewman safely home would practically land him on his brother’s doorstep. After spending years away from his family, Caleb isn’t certain what kind of reception he will receive when he steps foot in Natchez, Mississippi. The one thing he knows for sure is that he won’t stay long.

Since her sister was kidnapped by river pirates six months ago, Alanah Adams has taken special care to avoid drawing attention to herself. Those living in the rough-and-tumble settlement of Cypress Creek might even think she’s addled. But when she stumbles into Caleb and his friends in Natchez, she appears to be the picture-perfect lady.

Caleb only catches glimpses of the mysterious and beautiful Alanah before she disappears. But a chance encounter with her at his brother’s logging camp near Cypress Creek leaves him uncomfortable at the thought of the young woman traversing the dangerous area alone. At a crossroads in his life, Caleb must decide whether he wants to give up the worldly adventures he’s been seeking for one closer to home.

Order the Natchez Trace series by author Pam Hillman