The Search for Contentment

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Every time I have to make a trip into Nashville, I thank God more and more for my little slice of heaven out in the 'boonies'. Cities are just not my cup of tea! The crush of cars, of people, of noises and noxious smells is just overwhelmingly depressing for someone so used to open fields, empty roads, and the smell of trees and grass. I much prefer to see people I've known for years at every turn then be crushed into a couple dozen strangers with every step! I don't think I could be happy in a big city, or even a small city for that matter.

My house isn't the newest, biggest, most fashionable, or even cleanest you would ever encounter. It's small and cluttered (despite an entire year of decluttering- FLYlady style). It needs a new roof, the yard needs all manner of construction debris removed... half of the yard and property still need to be cleared of underbrush! Our swing-set is nestled beside our roofing supplies and the trampoline is sitting beside the front porch waiting to be assembled. The majority of the rooms in my house need to be re-painted, or the floor replaced, or the windows trimmed.

My neighbors (and there is a grand total of six households within a mile of ours) are a bunch of back woods loners: the type of people who live their lives and want to be left alone with their chickens and dogs and are perfectly happy to let you live yours as well. There's no neighborhood watch, and no block parties but there is also no one snooping out their screen doors, complaining because we have company that's blocking their driveway, calling us first thing in the morning to tell us our children are being too loud and they can't sleep.

Sometimes I despair because I don't live in a model home. I am beyond frustrated because I pick up the same set of trucks and blocks a good five or six times a day. I never have a break, and I have to work in stuff like brushing my hair, putting on jewelry, and reading in amongst a million questions about everything under the sun, cooking, unending dishes and laundry, changing diapers and wiping noses. I forget...

"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through HIm who strengthens me."

So, when my spirit gets down, I can always breathe, and think of the good things. My peace in God, my children are around me, happy, healthy (for the most part!), curious, loving, and oh-so-adorable. My husband loves me and goes out of his way to show it. I have friends and family who care about me and call me just to make sure my sanity is in tact. :) I go to the store and run into a friend or acquaintance on every aisle. We often gather at the check-out, chatting and holding up the line, and making new connections.

My house is warm and cozy, inviting to those who need a dose of family love. The repairs give my husband, children, and me a chance to bond together and make the absolute best memories. The sense of pride and accomplishment that comes in the spring of seeing flower beds bloom and sweeten the air, and going grocery shopping in my own back yard is beyond words.

I can sit in any room in my house and watch the sunrise or sunset. As I sit here and type, there are at least six different birds' nests outside the two windows my desk is nestled between, and the birds' song and shows are spectacular at every time of the year! The sound of the rain dripping from trees is loud and musical through unfinished windows in the hollow with almost no other sounds.

I don't worry about my children wandering into the street- we know everyone and every vehicle that drives past our home! The deer scamper past our picture window and sneak tastes of leftover veggies in the garden. We have more to fear from the bobcat that lives up the hollow than from a deranged stranger... there are no strangers here.

I begin to understand that although I don't have that pride in my house that comes from it being better or nicer than the next persons. I don't have pride that my kids are perfect, my husband is richer or more powerful than the next, or I will always be immaculately dressed and manicured, I have more than pride. I am happy. What a shock to be able to write that sentence.

I don't think that I've arrived at CONTENTMENT. I still want new things, I still worry about how my house looks, and how cute the kids look, how messy the yard is, the baby weight on my hips and the stretched out skin hanging from my middle (the oh-so-NOT-fantastic side effects of having six children in under five years!), how my nails always seem to be dirty when I have to go out.

I always prayed fervently for contentment. Ever since I heard my pastor speak on it when I was 15 years old. "God," I prayed, " Make me content! Give me this or that and I promise I will be content because you are powerful enough to make me so!

I didn't understand. We must "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

Contentment is much more than mere happiness, much much more than pride.

I love this definition I found of contentment: a state of mind in which one's desires are confined to his lot whatever it may be (1 Tim. 6:6; 2 Cor. 9:8). It is opposed to envy (James 3:16), avarice (Heb. 13:5), ambition (Prov. 13:10), anxiety (Matt. 6:25, 34), and repining (1 Cor. 10:10). It arises from the inward disposition, and is the offspring of humility, and of an intelligent consideration of the rectitude and benignity of divine providence (Ps. 96:1, 2; 145), the greatness of the divine promises (2 Pet. 1:4), and our own unworthiness (Gen. 32:10); as well as from the view the gospel opens up to us of rest and peace hereafter (Rom. 5:2).

What a great quest for us to embark upon!

Even Lao Tzu (the same man who said "Give a man a fish...") says "
Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. "

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (1Ti 6:8)



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