Contentment is empowering. I underrated it for years. Partially because I couldn’t reconcile it with faith. I saw contentment as letting go of desiring a better future. And without desire, what is faith?
Then I realized that contentment was one of those secret weapons to the best life that I was missing. Now it is a skill I am trying to develop as much as my faith. Partially because I see them as inter-connected.
You see, I always saw faith as vital. The belief that tomorrow can be more than what today is. Desires are often from God Himself. The desire to be debt free. The desire to make a bigger difference in the world. The desire to become more tomorrow than I am today. The desire to expand, to grow, to become. Those are all God-given desires. Faith validates desire.
Contentment is Empowering
People told me that I needed to be more content. That there was a balance to life I needed to keep. That I had too much desire and too little contentment. But how can you desire good things too much? That never made sense to me. So what I heard them saying was that I needed to let go of desire.
But balance as a goal is mostly a myth. Balance is active. It isn’t an achievement. It is a position you work at. You can’t have balance. You do balance.
Over time, how I saw contentment changed. It was no longer about desiring less. I started to see that contentment wasn’t about forgoing the journey but taking a moment to smell the flowers on my journey. To appreciate the fullness of the journey, its challenges and its beauty. I started seeing that contentment was at once empowering and purifying to desire. It refreshes faith in the most incredible way.
This is some of what I have learned about contentment:
- Contentment is being thankful. It is being grateful for what I currently have in life, for what surrounds me. It is about seeing all that you already have instead of only focusing on that which you desire for in the future. It is about being aware of what you have, and to him who has, more will be given. So I need to remind myself frequently that my life right now is good. In fact, it is truly awesome in so many ways. I just need to take the moment and be thankful.
- Contentment is being reminded that you are not defined by circumstances. Your failures do not define you. Neither do your successes define you. You are valuable because of who God made you, not because of what you achieve. The things you achieve tomorrow won’t make you more valuable. Those successes won’t validate you. Only God can do that. He made you a human being, not a human doing. And when you no longer pursue achievement for personal validation, it takes the poison out of your desire.
- Contentment is being aware of your values. It is seeing that the things that matter most to you are often things that you forget to pursue with intention. Such as family, and faith. It allows you to see what really matters to you, and because of that, often alters your goals.
- Contentment is telling a better story. It is focusing on the good that already is, instead of only focusing on the good to come. This allows you to live effectively in the tension of what is now, and the promise of the future. It allows you to have faith, while being still and watching God be God.
- Contentment is living fully in the moment. Fully present and aware of today’s bountiful blessings. Counting your blessings intentionally. And fully in the moment when faith calls for action. The more you appreciate what is, the more adventure you are ready for. In fact, in my experience, desire grows with contentment.
- Contentment is ultimate desire. The kind of creative desire that is born out of who we are, instead of what we think we ought to be. The desire that seeks the kingdom of heaven rather than focusing on selfish works. The kind of desire that is empowered by who God made us and how He equips us rather than driven by our needs. And since we are born to love, ultimate desire is most recognized by how other-centric it is.
- Contentment is a state of being satisfied. Not a satisfaction that lacks desire or faith for change, but a satisfaction that gives thanks for the brokenness of today because we also see God’s hand at work in redeeming our stories for His glory. And it is the kind of satisfaction that says all is well with my soul because we can truly receive the forgiveness offered to us.
- Contentment is a proper perspective. It acknowledges that all good things are received. That the best life is a gift. Sure you were and continue to be a partner with God in its creation, but life itself is a gift. And therefore all success and blessing is ultimately a gift, no matter how hard we worked at it. You didn’t bring it about on your own. Recognizing that allows you to believe that you will receive again. In other words, you can take yourself a bit less seriously.
Now I realise that contentment makes me richer than any success I may achieve in the future. Now I am able to work out of the strengths God deposited in me instead of trying to make the world fulfil my needs. Well, at least when I stop to take a moment and practice contentment. I find it is something I need to practice intentionally. Contentment is intentionally counting your blessings.