Finding Contentment

Yesterday I listened to a man talking about being content. In his example, he said that he would walk his neighborhood, praying and thanking God for different things, and as he walked home, he would come down the street and look at the back of his house, and start thinking about things that he would like to change. A bigger deck, some improvements to his landscaping, etc., right after he'd been thanking God for what he had. 

As I sat there, listening, I gulped a little bit. Or maybe a lot. And I started making a list of all the things that I was putting in the place of contentment. It was truly amazing how quickly I wrote down 8-10 things that I was actively seeking--from home additions to Starbucks stops to me-time--that had sneakily become things that were taking away from my contentment. 

If only I had...a day off from the responsibilities of parenthood, a caramel macchiato, a couple of extra rooms in the house, my own office, that sweater that I saw on sale...then things would be better. This stupid virus and the way it's impacting and changing everything wouldn't be so bad because I'd be content in my (bigger) house with (more) rooms for the kids to hang out in so that I would have (me) time to do other stuff and spread out a little while sipping coffee in my (new) office.

Do you see how easily the seeds of discontentment can sneak in? It sure hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday. And I hated it. I hated that I had become so dense to the changes in my outlook, and I hated that I had slipped into the mindset that anything (from more rooms to a coffee) would make me happier, kinder, or more grateful for what I've been given.

We ate a meal with some friends recently, and the wife apologized that our younger kids would need to use the smaller dessert plates for their meals because she only had one set of dishes, and not enough big plates to go around. I thought I had misheard her. Only one set? Really? Even with all of my clean out sessions and purges, I still have enough plates to feed 100 people at once. And, sadly, that may even be a low estimate. And then it struck me, as we were talking, that every time they had been to our house, I had used paper or plastic plates with them...because I didn't want to have to clean up afterwards. All those dishes...sitting in their cabinets and cupboards, and I'm using paper.

If I'm not grateful for what I already have...if I don't take care of what is already in my possession...if I'm not using my existing things...then why would more be better?

As I walked our block this morning, and looked at the back of our house, I listened to Philippians 4, and asked God to help me be content in Him. Content in everything, in plenty and in want. Content in the situation in which I currently find myself (homeschooling five kids - by choice), content at the desk in our bedroom, content with the Starbucks Via coffee that I can make at home for a lot less, content with the clothes in my closet. But not content to stay as I am, in the mindset I'm in, lacking the Fruits that I want from the Spirit.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go dig some dishes out of the cabinets...

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