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.

 

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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. http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/01/its-all-for-you-one-thousand-gifts-and-trailer/

    • 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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