The Crazy Thing About Contentment
Is there anything more beautiful than a sleeping baby? I know I might be biased, but my granddaughter is simply captivating when she is snoozing away in my arms, on my son’s chest, or nestled comfortably next to her mama! She is the perfect picture of contentment. At just a few weeks old, all is well in her wee world! Her contentment is contagious – the stress and pressures melt away when she’s in my arms and the rhythm of our breathing syncs up.
In today’s world, contentment is rare. Advertising intentionally tries to trigger discontent so that you think you need more; or something different, or something better! Social media arouses the desire to compare so that you either feel better about yourself than you should or like you will never measure up. Toss in a crazy busy life and it all adds up to being discontent!
And being discontent is not a very happy place.
Back to my sweet granddaughter – the perfect picture of contentment. Sleeping, she has not a care in the world. She doesn’t lose sleep over worrying about where her next meal will come from, or if she will get enough. She isn’t concerned about who loves her and who doesn’t, or if her life is significant. She’s at peace with the world.
I imagine God wanting us to be more like my granddaughter. Relaxed, content, and fully trusting that your needs will be met -enjoying “a state of happiness and satisfaction,” as the dictionary defines contentment.
Of course, my granddaughter eventually cries when she’s hungry, needs a fresh diaper, or her big brother shows his love a bit too aggressively. That’s normal! Once her needs are met, however, she settles back into that contented place.
I won’t speak for you, but I confess that sometimes even after my needs have been met I am not always content. God and I have been chatting about contentment over the last year. It has seemed like an unlikely time to have this conversation in light of the fact that I have been dealing with Lyme disease – how can you be content with that going on?
Have you noticed that discontentment shows up in a variety of ways? Here are just a few:
- A grumpy or negative attitude
- Negative beliefs
- Perpetually busyness or working too much
- Lack of interest in hobbies or passions
- Inability to relax or rest
- Relationship struggles
Here’s the crazy thing about contentment:
1. It’s all about trust
True contentment is not dependent upon ideal circumstances. It is not dependent on possessions or power. It is about trusting the One who loves you most and letting my faith in Him override my fear.
When unsettling things enter life, like Lyme disease, I have a decision to make. Will I trust God in this place or will I let fear consume me? Will I focus on the negative aspects of Lyme or will I relax, trust God is at work, and settle in to the ways He is urging me to grow?
When I am confident that God loves me I am content and that’s when I see best the ways He is working on my behalf. In spite of how things might look, I know deep down that He’s in control, He’s always doing what’s best, and He is always doing what’s right.
2. Has nothing to do with circumstances or stuff
It is easy to fool myself into thinking that I will be content when I…
- no longer have health issues
- have a better/different job
- am married
- have kids
- can buy a house
- make more money
- lose 20 pounds
- get a new truck
- am out of debt
- have a better wardrobe
- have more clients
- Fill in your own circumstances.
3. Is anything but complacent
Contentment is not about me giving up or settling. It doesn’t mean that I am complacent or passive. Contentment is about accepting where I am right now and trusting that God will help me get where I need to be, then proactively partnering with Him in the areas that need to change.
4. Is rooted in gratitude
When you are truly grateful for the person God has created you to be, and the ways He has blessed you, how can you not be content? Discontent arises out of dwelling on what you don’t have.
5. It leads to success
Believe it or not, success never leads to contentment, yet contentment leads to success. When contentment rules, my ambition is properly focused on my purpose. My priorities are in alignment with His. And I am confident in His provision for me. That changes my beliefs and attitudes making a positive difference in everything I do and changes how I view success.
When it comes to contentment, there’s no quick fix or easy button. It is a process. Some days I feel more content than others. The good news is that the more I get to know Him, the more I trust Him. And the more I trust Him, the more I relax and rest in the way my granddaughter does, knowing that God’s got me – He’s in control. I am able to give myself permission to be right where I am…today! It allows me to flourish even when my circumstances aren’t ideal – and I am getting quicker to get back to that content place when I drift. That’s progress!
I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Phil 4:12-13 (MSG)
So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. I Peter 5:6 (MSG)
What crazy thing have you noticed about contentment in your life?
© Can Stock Photo / McIninch
I’m a little behind the ball in reading this blog post, but wanted to say I love your take on contentment. “Contentment is about accepting where I am right now and trusting that God will help me get where I need to be, then proactively partnering with Him in the areas that need to change.” Seems to me a great balance between my part vs. His part–a concept I’m forever trying to get a handle on! Thank you for your fresh perspective.
There is definitely a tension between my part and His part. The better I understand my role, the more content I am. I a happy to hear the perspective resonated with you!