Call to Contentment
By Jennifer L. Karkula
March 6, 2007
More than most things, I strive for contentment with my life and my circumstances. And I think it’s OK to desire something more and something better, but not when it inhibits me from enjoying where I am now.
Even with all of the things that I have going on—school, work, church, a looming internship and my relationships—I can still find time in the busyness to be thankful for my countless blessings. The things I complain about are often the things for which I should be grateful. I'm getting an education; I have a job; I'm attending a good church; I have an internship, and I have people in my life that I care about and a boyfriend that thinks I am pretty sweet. Instead of thinking about how busy and stressed these things make me, I need to change my perspective.
I was watching my dog fall asleep in a chair (naturally, a chair she was not supposed to occupy), and I looked at the expression on her face. Her eyelids got heavy as she drifted off to sleep, and I found it hard to scold her for being in that chair. She was so happy. So peaceful. So content.The simple pleasure of having a nice warm chair with an armrest for her furry little face was all it took to settle her nerves and give her rest.
I wish I could be that easily pleased.
But I am pretty easily pleased; I just need to let go of all the things that freak me out. Holding hands with a special someone, getting a hug, giving a hug, taking a nap, reading a good book, working out, knitting something, taking a good picture, baking something for someone, sitting and talking with people I love—all of these things bring me joy and leave me feeling content.
When I fit these things into my life and commit to being thankful, I think I can do this. Obviously, it is a life-long process, but I am pretty excited. It would counter a lot of the stress and the disappointment I sometimes feel. It’s often best to just let things go.
I was sitting in a class as we learned about prayer. We were doing an exercise that involved spending a half-hour meditating on a scripture passage and praying. I lasted 10 minutes before I let my head drop into my hands.
Fifteen minutes later, my arms fell asleep, and I slowly came back to reality. I felt that same feeling of contentment that my dog gets to feel all too often. The feeling lasted until I realized I had five minutes to get a good understanding of what Jesus was talking about when He gave the Great Commission.
My professor shared something during the discussion time that stuck with me, though. He said for some of us the best thing we could do is just take a nap. What?!
And then it clicked. Contentment. I need to let go of all the little things (and sometimes the big things) and take care of myself and others. I have been trying to be a little more intentional about this goal, writing notes of encouragement to friends, not being ashamed to bring my knitting to chapel, taking naps when I need them and letting a few meaningful conversations with people I love cut into time I should be spending on schoolwork.
Philippians 4 has a lot to offer. We can rejoice in the Lord, always. Even in adversity; we have so much to be thankful for. We have what it takes to be content. Verses 4-9 make this supremely evident:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (TNIV).
My list of ideas is not the end. Read Philippians 4 for yourself. Consider what you can do to practice contentment.
Lord, give us the grace and the drive we need to be content in You and in our lives.