While attending our MOPS group this week, something our speaker said really struck a chord with me. She talked about contentment and how her mother taught her how to be content in all things. A simple example she gave about her mother’s furniture made sense to me. Her mother never had new furniture while her children were growing up. Despite this, her mother never once complained about her old furniture or even about how much she wanted new furniture. And by watching the example of her mother, she learned what it meant to be content in all things.
The definition of contentment, according to Merriam-Webster, says, “the state of being happy and satisfied.” I see myself as someone who can be content in all things. Of course I do! We all think we are just perfect little human beings, right? We don’t have any issues. I am soooo satisfied with life. But after the speaker gave that great human example, it made me realize how far off I am from understanding true contentment. I began to think of all the situations and things that I am discontent with (in other words, the things that I want to change). At the risk of being vulnerable, I must share that my biggest source of DIScontentment involves wanting a new house. We have lived in rentals since getting married almost 9 years ago. And while I was completely content with our current living situation a year ago, once we began looking at homes, my discontentment started growing. I began to see what others had, what I wanted and what I didn’t have. Friends here and there were buying homes, and we weren’t. All of these feelings were a breeding ground for discontentment.
Is it a surprise that discontentment often begins when we see what others have? Is it a surprise that jealousy can be a huge part of discontentment? Is it a surprise that we as a society are more discontent with what we have than EVER? No! All of these play a major role in feeding our discontentment. I have said this before, but I want to say it again: “FACEBOOK IS EVIL” Or at least scrolling through your news feed is. Why? Because Facebook singlehandedly created a society of people who appear perfect and show off only the good things of life. Sure some do air their dirty laundry also, but in general, Facebook is for announcing our happy times in order to make our lives seem wonderful. Facebook feeds our discontentment more than anything else because for the most part we aren’t allowed behind our Facebook friends’ closed doors. Let’s take my example of being discontent about living in our current rental home. When I scroll through my news feed, I see my friends’ homes. They own them. They are beautiful. They are remodeling. They are painting. They are planting. They are living in their own home. And then I turn around to look at my home. I don’t own it. It is not as beautiful as I want it to be. I am not allowed to remodel. I cannot paint. I cannot plant. BAM! Discontentment in a matter of minutes.
Since our MOPS meeting yesterday, I have not stopped thinking about being content in all things. I struggle with it sometimes. I believe thinking about contentment is the first step to reversing the downhill plunge into being unhappy with our lives. We have to be aware of our perceptions. But in addition to that, we also have to be thankful. I have learned that thankfulness covers so many sins. If I am thankful for what I have, there is no room for discontentment. Thankfulness is just one concept I am teaching my little girl. She is always wanting more, and I remind her, “Punkin, you need to be thankful for what you have and not always be asking for more.” What a great thing to teach a young child. Be thankful. Be content. This concept should be at the top of your priority list, rather than teaching the ABCs and 123s.
Another way to increase your contentment is to stop the comparison game. I strongly believe that this is a woman’s number 1 issue. I know men battle this as well, but women are notoriously compare-ers! As a teenager, I didn’t enjoy being friends with girls because of this reason. I constantly felt like they were comparing themselves to me, and that sucked the fun out of being friends. From a young age, I made a huge effort to NOT compare. My mother taught me this, and I have never forgotten it. Of course I veer off course sometimes, but we all do. Comparisons lead to discontentment with yourself. Everyone has great qualities and negative qualities. Where you excel, someone else struggles and vice versa. Be proud of who God made you to be. You are uniquely YOU. No one else is like you. They don’t need to be! What a boring society we would be if we all lived in the same house, had the same number of children, drove the same cars & had the same hobbies! How funny! We would have nothing to talk about.
So ladies (and some gentlemen), go forth and be content with life. Teach it to your children. Be thankful. Be happy with what God has given you & be thankful when he gives you more than you need. Change your point of view. Be content when you walk out in the morning and see a flat tire because it could have happened on the road. Be content when you are in a solid line of traffic due to an accident because that wrecked car could’ve been yours. Be content when your child takes a ridiculous amount of time to sit in her darn car seat because that little delay could help you avoid a car accident. Be content.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12