Not the easiest concept to grasp, is it?
If you're living in the modern, Western world, "contentment" is almost a dirty word. The mantra seems to be "get more, achieve more, accumulate MORE!" Being satisfied with what you have almost labels you as lacking in motivation and ambition. We're supposed to want more money, more stuff, bigger houses, better cars, more luxury, etc. But then we're all so freakin' stressed-out and wigged-out all the time, so we pursue some semblance of peace at any cost. From the healthy pursuits of exercise, meditation, and silence, to drug use, the abuse of sex or alcohol, self-medication, and self-harm. We want it all, but then we want to somehow be all "zen" about it. Now there's nothing wrong with having money, or nice things, or any of that. But are you content with it all? Do you have peace? Do you actually want what you have rather than just having what you want?
'Cause there's a big difference.
If you have one pair of shoes in your closet, some food in your kitchen, a home with heat and air conditioning, a warm bed, and unlimited access to clean drinking water, then you are already way ahead of over a billion other humans with whom we share this planet.
It's Sunday night. Right now, you might be stressing out about your upcoming work week (as I was earlier this evening.) But hey now, I actually have a job. I can show up somewhere for 40 hours every week, do something meaningful with my time, and someone will actually pay me to do it.
That's pretty incredible.
Right now, I'm sitting in a warm, cozy apartment, typing away on a laptop, utilizing the wonder of the internet, and anytime I need it, I have indoor plumbing and hot running water just steps away. When I wake up tomorrow in my soft, fluffy bed, there will be food in my refrigerator, multiple options of clothing to choose from, and a motorized vehicle just waiting to bring me to work. Wow. Could I possibly be more blessed right now?
Braden and I are completely addicted to Indian food. We frequent our favorite spot, Spice Junction, at least once a week to indulge in their spectacular delights (seriously, if you live near Columbia, you've gotta try it.) We've gotten to know the sweet family that runs the place, and we always enjoy chatting with them over curry and mango lassis. They have no staff - just a husband, wife, and their two young sons running the business. They good-naturedly told us that they often don't get home from closing up the restaurant until midnight, and every day they have to wake up at 4am to get the kids ready for school and start prepping for the day's business. They do this 6 days a week. And came to American from India because of how much better those 20 hour work-days are than what they had back home. Last night, the son who can't be more than 12 was helping run the cash register, and I marveled at his maturity, his intelligence, and competence. I couldn't help but think that an American kid at a similar stage in life would have simply grunted at us and continued playing Angry Birds. While walking to our car, Braden and I were just blown away by this happy family's work-ethic, and felt utterly ashamed of any time we've ever whined about a "long, stressful day."
Right this second, I'm so blessed I could cry. I'm so happy with our little home, my 200,000+ mile car, my precious husband, my meaningful-exhausting-fabulous-low-paying job. My beautiful life. Thank you Lord, thank you, for always meeting our every need.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.