Sometimes in the evenings when I am sitting on the couch I will look over and see Wilson, the kitty cat, stretched out on his back, paws outstretched, white belly exposed. When he notices me watching he will give me a look of pure contentment. If I move slow enough he will allow me to rub his belly which will produce a contented purring. His belly is full, his litter box is clean, and his momma is home – all is right with his world and he wants nothing more.
The reality is that contentment doesn’t come from things. Wilson can attest to that since he doesn’t have a car, clothes in the closet, etc. Wilson can be at peace because he knows that he is loved and taken care of. And that is where my peace should come from also. I know that my happiness and worth isn’t the result of the material things in my life. It isn’t because I have great things. My happiness comes from knowing a loving God who loves me more than I love myself. It comes from wanting what I have and knowing it’s enough.
It’s not always easy. Seeing others who have bigger houses or more expensive cars can cause me to want more. I think the desire to achieve more and better things is ingrained in our human nature. Our culture provides impetus to be discontent. Ads scream at us every day to be younger, be sexier, to acquire bigger and better things. They imply that we are not okay as we are. But, we are okay even without the things the world would suggest we need.
Two years ago I was laid off from my job. It was the first time in twenty some years that I didn’t have a source of income. The first question I was asked was “What are you going to do?” And then as the weeks went by the question became, “Haven’t you found a job yet?” The idea that a person could be without a job and still be okay was foreign to many I came in contact with. During the months of unemployment I found that there was more to life than my career. I learned that I could live without expensive toys and eating out. I did have everything I needed and it was okay. The time allowed me to slow down enough to look at life and enjoy it again. It showed me that my contentment came from things that weren’t tangible, but were an important part of my life none the less. Honestly, I often think I was more content being unemployed than I am when I am pursuing a career. My challenge now is to be content no matter what.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. –Phillipians 4:11