Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I've been thinking a lot this week about contentment. I have so much to be thankful for... trying a new recipe, hearing Sasha snoring next to me on the sofa after her mini stroke last week, enjoying a late breakfast "out" with Christopher as he updates me on his life, chatting with Stephanie on the cell phone ... and temperatures in the 70s!

Then why is it that I felt uncomfortable when my husband's former fraternity brother picked him up for a day on campus? Would I have felt the same if he had come to the door of our former house, the large two story colonial? For the most part, the furniture is the same and like that house we have a pretty front porch. The only difference, this house is quite small and I knew he lived in a mini mansion.

My husband's friend had followed a very similar college and career path but there the similarities ended. Instead of losing many jobs over the years (at times due to the economy, often because of his illness) like my husband, his friend had been with the same company his entire life... receiving promotions and retiring early with money, position in the community, and power. The very stuff of life to which we once aspired.

I was quite surprised by the reaction I felt as they left for the University. I thought I was past those feelings... inadequacy, coveting another's way of life, getting tired of counting pennies as I watch others spend hundreds of dollars without thinking... so much that comes with health and money challenges.

There, buried deep within, were emotions hidden for sometime but obviously still simmering below the surface. For all I'm normally content in my lovely little house filled with books and tea stuff, comforts of soft furniture and inherited antiques, daffodils and violets, watching Last of the Summer Wine late at night since the antennae was installed, enjoying my quiet times in the early morning... good things... the truly best life has to offer.

The fact I even noticed those ugly emotions rising to the surface is proof I've come a long way from those days when I was working for money, position, power... the things this world has to offer. Not that it is wrong when we are given those things as gifts from God. I know lovely people who wear money and power well... people who have the ability to balance power with humility, wealth without greed.

I suppose what is tested during these times is... am I truly content and do I honestly trust the path God has given? That is a question we all must ask ourselves as we travel through life, walking the cobblestone path of God's Will.

For it is in the looking past that we know contentment today and faith for tomorrow... knowing those times we thought we were walking alone and in darkness, He was there all the time. Would I want to change anything? Not at all. For every challenge made Him more real... pure gold rather than the sugar candy I was after... that which is just illusion and glitz and glitter... that which melts in the rain.

For I have learned to be content on the cobblestone road of life and appreciative of the good stuff He gives along the way.


Sue said...

Your posts always have a calming effect on me...

Thank you for sharing your inner-most feelings so that others may reflect and learn...

Have a BLESSED Sunday!

G.L.H. said...


My husband has a saying for me when I get a little covetous: Comparison Destroys Contentment.

Isn't it the truth?

Vee said...

I love your commenters. Gosh, they're smart folks or are married to smart folks. I love what GLH shared: Comparison Destroys Contentment.

It does prove that we are human when we do compare. Sometimes I look at another's life (my own sister's let's say ;> ) and I fall into the comparison thing and it robs me of every lick of joy. Besides, I do NOT want to have to care for those great big homes nor do I want to care for those great big yards. Someone with more energy than I... Oh, well, there I go again. =D

Brenda, I so appreciate your transparency and willingness to share your heart. Enjoy that sweet home today!

scrappy quilter said...

I too appreciate your openess to share your thoughts and weaknesses. I love what G.L.H. said about comparison destroys contentment. Those words are so true.

You've given us much room for thought has have your commentors. Great post.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

Nancy said...

The contentment that you usually have is probably something that many people, with money and status, don't have. They have to worry about their stock portfolios, a reversal of fortune, presenting the "proper" image, etc.

Being content with what we have really is a key to happiness. Thanks for reminding us of that.

DebD said...

Great thoughts on this joyous Sunday. I don't think it is unusual to have those negative thoughts come back to annoy us - it is what we do with them that counts though.

Cheryl (Copper's Wife) said...


hmsclmom (Debbie) said...

Great post! I have struggled with the same feelings and come to the same conclusion. God is good and is there always for us.

Linda N said...

A very timely post, Brenda, as I have been made aware this past week that I was drifting into ungratefulness. God has given me a delightful inheritance, and as you are fond of saying, the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places.

God loves that you are listening to Him.

Linda N.

Anonymous said...

I have had those same feelings too when say a friend visited and we knew their homes and life. Then as they started talking I was left praying for their family and again thankful for what we had. Their families though wealthy, had many problems we had never had to face. We could cut back more and more on the money but health and love are not so easy to come by. We had that,...they didn't. Many people seem to have life easy it seems. They got the house you'd love to own, and other things. Jobs seem to come their way easily etc. But then you hear of their struggles to honorably get these things and again I realize I would not have been willing to do that. They so deserved their hard won position. You can start out in life the same but each decision made by you or not changes everything at times. I can see more and more that counting off all the things we should be grateful for and thanking God for our lives is a needed daily exercise. Realize that even the Kennedy's have someone they know that has more of everything than they do etc. Even rich people are not immune to comparing. Look at the Kennedys and others.... their wealth compared to the heart ache they have all had to endure. I too appreciate the comment by G.L.H. Brenda, thanks for sharing from your heart...we understand. Jody

Anne said...

Brenda -
What a wonderful post! I think so few people are willing to admit what most of us likely feel.

I think the reason why these feelings are so close to the surface is because it's so ingrained in the way we live in the US. It seems ALL the messages on the radio, TV, and just talk around the office involve aspiring to "the American dream" of more, more, more.

My husband and I are working towards an intentional downsizing in order to work on a dream of ours and hopefully so I can be home with our 2 boys. Even though they're older, I feel they are in need of additional time and nurturing than what they're getting now. We are excited, but also filled with doubts as we "give up" our nicer house in search of something smaller and cheaper. It's so easy to think that we must be wrong making these choices that go against what we see and hear every day.

Thank you!

Sharon said...

Brenda!Wonderful post here as usual.I know so well about what you have spoken of here.Though we have not ever had really good times financially in our marriage things definitely got much worse after my husband's stroke and heart trouble in 2002.I have had to stay home to be with him.He never made much money prior to his health issues so his disability payments are not much.We do get by though with rent assistance as well as food banks for food assistance.Humbling even though we were not in any way well off prior to this.However God has used these things to build gratitude in me as well as joy amazingly enough.So much we have survived has produced these things with God's help.I don't wish this life on anyone else BUT I would not trade the things learned through this for all the gold in the world.Love you Brenda~Sharon G.

A. said...

You always speak to me. And thank you. My husband is an engineer, we are once again facing a job loss. We know we would have been so much better off if he would have been able to stay with one company for many years. Instead this will be our 7th.

We are trying to have faith that things will work out and God will lead us where we should be. However, the discontent can creep in before I know it. I just told my husband how whiny I've been on my blog lately. UGH!!

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

A BIG hug to you Brenda - your words ring true to my heart today!

Clif said...

Great post. Wonderful insight!! Have a great week.

Gayle@Mountain Moma said...

I love your honesty, we all feel that way at times. Then we come back to center and remember how blessed we are.

Scribbler said...

I found your blog on someone's blog roll. Such thoughtful pieces you write! This particular essay resonated with me just now because I have been really angry about not being able to buy some things I want! Meanwhile, I have acquaintances who have three or four houses, travel all the time, etc... It is hard not to be a bit envious, even though it is not pretty.