Trying to Cultivate Contentment   2 comments

I am not a materialistic person.  I think I can say that with some confidence.  Sure, I appreciate the gorgeousness of a mountain cabin, and a really hearty chunk of strong Cheddar, no matter the cost, makes me immensely happy. . . but by and large, I’m pretty happy with the stuff I’ve got – enough clothes to keep me warm, a place to sleep, Honey the Hyundai to get me from place to place – and I certainly realize that I am more blessed materially than most of the world.

The posture of contentment

That said, I have a really hard time being content.  Most of the time when people talk about lack of contentment, they’re discussing the acquisition of things – new house, new car, new shoes (have you seen the latest Docs?  So awesome).  But for me, discontent isn’t fired by a desire for more stuff.  In fact, in some ways I wish it was; at least when you’re trying to cultivate contentment by being satisfied with the things you have, you can resist the urge to buy or acquire – there’s something concrete to be done.

For me, discontentment comes with not being satisfied by the situation of my life at the moment.  I want to be a better writer or have a job that fulfills me; I want friendships full of laughter and no boredom, and a romance that leaves me breathless.  In short, I want what Hollywood promises is real – a transcendent life where every moment is glorious if not always easy.

The reality, however, is that such a life does not exist, at least not in this earth.  Further, I have never been promised this.  As Woody Guthrie wrote in his song “God’s Promise,” God says,

“I didn’t promise you joys without sorrow or peace without pain.  All that I promised is strength for this day,  rest for my worker, light on your way.  I give you truth when you need it, my help from above, undying friendship, my unfailing love.”

But I have been promised much – unending peace that I cannot understand, all that I need for each and every day, God’s undying friendship and undying love.  There must be a way to dwell in this place instead of in the places of lack that I seem to seek out so quickly.

Perhaps I should simply learn to be grateful for all that I have – this day when the sky is so blue and the breeze so cool, the chance to write all day if I want, the sleepiness that comes when I let peace well up, the friends who stand beside me even when I am so, so tiring.  I am trying to be this kind of grateful.  It goes against my analytical nature in many ways – I am trained to find the problem and seek a solution.  The truth, though, is that some “problems” don’t have solutions and, moreso, some “problems” aren’t even problems but simply realities – realities that may turn out to be very good if I just let them come.

As I was thinking about this today, I came across this post by Bob Kaylor on “Cultivating Contentment,” and he makes a profound case for seeing all the circumstances of life as places where God can show God’s grace.  I think that’s, perhaps, an attitude I can cultivate. . . . one day at a time.



2 responses to “Trying to Cultivate Contentment

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  1. I cannot recommend enough that you read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Amazing book, amazing writer! Here is the link for the trailer that will undoubtedly leave you in tears.

    • Lisa, the book looks perfect, and the preview did make me cry. Thank you, the friend of my friend. . . I need this today. My favorite lines from the blog – “Writing, living, it is learning the art of waiting.
      It’s all a gift and gifts can’t be rushed, only received. “

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