January 28, 2012

Obstacle #2: Discontentment

Back in the day, when my husband and I were first becoming acquainted, he asked me the monumental question, "So what do you want to do with your life?"

Pensively, I told him my list.

#1. Be a mother.
#2. Wholeheartedly devote myself to something, without reservation.
#3. Be content.

That third aim might not seem very ambitious. Be content? As in, happy with where you are, not striving for improvement? "I like my life exactly as it is, thanks. I have no goals at all."

Hardly.


Contentment is not complacency. Being content means "feeling or showing satisfaction with one's possessions, status, or situation." It means that, though I have God-given aspirations toward which I steadily work and pray, I am satisfied - I am happy - right now. In this situation, I find joy. For these current possessions, I constantly give thanks. I am at peace with my current status, not pining for something else. Dreaming, hoping, praying for something else, maybe. But not unhappy, not fighting tooth and nail for "possessions, status, or situation" that God has not yet seen fit to bestow.

Not complaining about unfulfilled dreams, because I am satisfied in the here and now. Not jealous of others, because I am overjoyed with the blessings that are mine. Not anxiously scheming ways to obtain more, because I am too busy giving thanks for the here and now. 


In reality, contentment is a very high aim. It is radically different from American culture and human nature. Our culture pines over every billboard, commercial, and internet ad we encounter. Our human nature doesn't even need the allurement. We are perfectly capable of finding something to be discontent about even when we don't know what else we'd prefer in its place. It comes quite naturally to complain, to envy others, and to simply overlook the innumerable gifts in our own lives right here, right now.

Contentment is rare. Like joy, sometimes you have to fight for it.

See why contentment made my short list of life goals?

Its opposite, discontentment, is second on the list of obstacles I encounter in making home a place of retreat.  (The first obstacle was selfishness masquerading as perfectionism.)

I want my home to be a peaceful place, happy place, a retreat. As the woman of this home, my attitude sets the tone here more often than not. The vibe of my home will not be peaceful and happy unless I am just that. Content.

When I'm content, my words express joy in our circumstances instead of dissatisfaction. My actions display gratitude and good stewardship of our possessions, instead of complaints. My contentment says of God, "He is enough for me. This home He provides, the food in our cupboard, the work He has entrusted to me, the folks in my family- they are extravagant gifts from Him. And I am satisfied."

"Better is a little with the fear of the Lord,
than great treasures without content."
Proverb 15:16