What price would you put on contentment?
Can it be bought?
While we intuitively know it is not for sale, we are incessantly bombarded with an ever-increasing number of options, channels, products and choices that are touted to scratch the nagging itch of “If I only had _____” and bring us fulfillment. Sometimes we fall into this trap, only to find ourselves grasping for what does not truly satisfy and turning a blind eye to what we have already received.
I have caught myselfy recently thinking way too much about what I don’t have. “What if I had more money?” “What if I had a more successful business?” “What if we could take more vacations?” “What if I had a car that doesn’t make crazy noises!” “What if we had kids that behaved better….” I realize I was falling into this trap of discontentment.
But I want to be content – don’t you? Among the myriad of choices available to us, can it be that one of those options we can exercise is to choose contentment?
I believe the answer is yes, but it clearly takes intentionality. If we are going to swim upstream against the current of a continuous lust for more, how can we take an active stance, stay alert to the present and enjoy what we’ve been given?
1. Focus on what you have
Think of one thing you are grateful for. It could be a car that takes you to work, a Bible that is precious to you, a relationship that brings you joy, etc. Take a photo of it with your smart phone and look at it throughout the day while giving thanks for having it.
At least once during the week, give of yourself without expecting anything in return. You can give of your time, or maybe your expertise or you might give money. Giving demonstrates gratitude for what you have received.
Have a party with your “extended family” each month. Ask everyone to share stories of what they are thankful for.
4. Make a memorial
Make some sort of a memorial that enables you to reflect and look back at how God has provided for you. In my case, it is a collection of rocks with names of the people who have been significant in my spiritual journey. The first name on a rock is my grandfather’s aunt “Besta” who prayed for me and gave me a Norwegian Bible on my 10th birthday which I later came to treasure. You may want to use this type of idea, or create some other sort of visual reminder that speaks to you and causes you to reflect on the goodness of God in your life.
Paul reminds us in Phillippians 4:6-7:
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.
When I pray, I realize God is in control, and I am content. When I don’t pray, I think and act as if I am in control and become anxious. Taking my concerns and desires to God in prayer makes me remember that all that I am and all that I have comes from Him and at the end of the day it is Him I am seeking to please.
If you desire to explore this topic deeper, Ann Voskamp has a great book on gratitude.