Thursday, May 24, 2007

Further ponderings about contentment

'Tis a gift to be simple 'Tis a gift to be free '
Tis a gift to come down
Where we ought to be

And when we find ourselves In that place just right
We will be in the valley
Of Love and delight.

Did you ever stop to think that contentedness is a gift you give yourself?

I realized long ago that in our very humanness, we have a difficult time with becoming content. We tell ourselves we'll be happy...when...if...after...etc. But we know that is not true. After all, even Eve wasn't content in the Garden and she was surrounded with perfection. We get the job, or the house, or the car, or the baby, or the husband (or wife), or whatever we saw in the catalog or on the commercial ...and we're not happy.

When I started talking to people about lowering my expectations, you'd have thought I was saying I'd become an axe murderer or something. Especially living in the kind of community I do (although living in the country helps a little now). I'm a baby boomer and believe me, we were taught that we couldn't be just average, we had to excel at everything we did as well as "become all we're meant to be".
I've had the dream job and the dream house and I admit, both were enjoyable. Neither brought contentment.

A few things happened along the way, especially as I entered middle age...bad stuff in the world's eyes...really bad stuff. I suppose I could have become bitter because this didn't measure up to my expectations (or my theology to tell you the truth). But God gave me a gift as a result of all of this, it's like He was saying since I went through a Job experience without cursing Him...He gave me the gift of contentment and simplicity. He allowed me to lower my expectations which brought me to the gift I gave myself...contentment in the small things of life.

When one can sit on the porch and smile at the sound of birds in the morning and be content...it is a gift. When one can put on an apron and be happy because there is food to be creative with, even if it is simple...it is a gift. When one can smile as they go to bed at night because all the family is home safe and sound, even if they're not certain if the gas and groceries will stretch until the next check arrives...it is a gift.

I truly believe contentment is a gift we give ourselves and by giving it to ourselves... we pass it on to our family. No one can give us contentment and we can't pass it on to another. For it comes up as a bubbling brook within us as our mind and heart together believes that God's Word is true.

He gives us no more than we can handle. He provides our every need. We are the apple of His eye.

This isn't Heaven and the streets aren't gold but we have coffee with cream, Earl Grey tea, chocolate, music, art, books, hugs, rocking chairs, comfy sofas, flannel sheets in cold weather, cotton sheets when it becomes warm, unexpected gifts from friends, trees, flowers, and gravel roads...a few of my favorite things.

Life is far from perfect but I've lowered my expectations and given myself the gift of contentment...by appreciating what is truly the best life has to offer.

9 comments:

Maggie Ann said...

You make me think of the verse of scripture...'godliness with contentment is great gain'. I'm so glad of this reminder...I needed to remember how richly blessed I am tonight. Thank you so much! God has used your post to help me get a right perspective on a hurtful situation that has developed just this evening.

Heather said...

Discontentment breeds like bunnies in my heart when I let it take hold - I have to take purposeful measures to eliminate the things that I know cause discontent for me - including t.v. and the Sunday newspaper ads - except the food flyers! It is a gift to know true contentment and to really see all of the blessings that we often take so for granted. Thank you for the reminder Brenda!

Connie said...

I wrote you an email with a comment.

Susan P. said...

You are so right, contentment is truly a gift you give yourself! I am so grateful that I DO smile when I listen to the wonderful songs that the birds sing to me in the morning:o)

Allison said...

I couldn't agree more, I truly couldn't - I'm right there with you. And I do sit on the front porch and smile as I rock, and read, and sip my coffee (with cream :o), and listen to the birds sing, or my little girl singing a song. It's a gift, and one that I am so very grateful for.

allie
www.mycozyhome.typepad.com

Beverly said...

What an excellent post on contentment. We take so much for granted, don't we? God used you to bless me today. Thank you!

Father's Grace Ministries said...

I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this!
Claire

Lallee said...

Brenda, this is such a wonderful post. I had to come back and read it again. I've been thinking for the past year about Paul's verse on being content under all circumstances. I like the way you said contentment is a gift we can give ourselves. While what happens in life is not in our control, our reaction and attitude are. It takes lots of practice, but we do have a great Helper, don't we. I think your lowering your expectations (as you put it) is God's encouragement to live life more simply so we aren't so tangled with the world.

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