Monday, February 23, 2009

Confession time

It's time for me to confront an ongoing struggle in my life. It's a serious problem and one that is causing significant trouble for me. This has grown into a point of contention between my lady wife and me. My understanding is that sin is that which separates us from our proper relationship with God. I believe that this problem is rising, if it hasn't already risen, to the level of sin. It can be expressed quite simply.

I am not content.

In our American culture the proper response to that is "Good, you'll never get ahead if you're content". Our culture has come to believe that contentment comes only from the constant forward movement in pursuit of the next, the bigger or the better. But this pursuit is robbing my life of joy.

The reality is that my financial situation means that some gratification must inevitably be delayed for at least a while. It means that some dreams may remain only that. Even modest dreams may remain elusive, just beyond my grasp. Thus my pursuit is hobbled. Which means I'm not getting better, I'm not getting ahead. And so I'm certain that I can not be happy.

My eyes are focused on everything I don't have. I fail to see what I do have.

Disposable income (not as much as perhaps I want but it's there and I use it)
I am employed.
I am employed at a job I enjoy.
My life is filled with luxuries (multiple cars, TVs, computers, more clothes than I can wear in two weeks time, specialty food and drinks, the list goes on and on and on...)

But I am not content. I fuss and worry. I'm angry. I'm overwhelmed. I'm depressed.

My lady wife just shakes her head. You see she has the gift of contentment. That's not say that she has everything she desires in the world. But she is content with what she has. A husband she loves. A daughter she loves and of whom she is quite proud. She has clothes and food and satellite TV and two pussy cats and a nice place to live. She works with people that she likes. And she is content. She wishes I could be content as well.

On Sunday at church our adult forum was about God and money and the relationship between the two. On the handout set in front of me I found this:

12I 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. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 NIV

It was like a bolt to my brain. I can't explain it any other way.

So I begin my journey to find contentment. To glory in the gifts and opportunities that have already been given to me. To remain open to the chance for something new to enter my life but to no longer be driven only by the pursuit of it.

In plenty or in want I shall be content. I shall live in that place where my lady resides and I shall honor her for her gift.

And I will thank God for it all.

The image is from UK artist Andrew Vaccari


Ali said...

Might I suggest you not seek contentment but allow contentment to find you. Contentment can outrun any desire, can be driven away by our pursuit of "more." Slow down, and as you've said, be thankful for all that you have in life. Be still and know that God is with you always.

DaYouthGuy said...

Thank you for this comment. It had completely slipped by me that I was still using "pursuit" wording as I talked about contentment. In my mind still lingers the "mission to be completed" mentality that got me into this problem in the first place.

LOL, so much unlearning to do!