Friday, January 9, 2009

Contentment

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” Philippians 4:11

Paul, while being denied every comfort, wrote the above statement from a dark prison cell.
A story is told of a king who went to his garden one morning, only to find everything withered and dying. He asked the oak tree that stood near the gate what the trouble was. The oak said it was tired of life and determined to die because it was tall and beautiful like the pine tree. The pine was troubled because it could not bear grapes like the grapevine. The grapevine was determined to throw away its life because it could not stand erect and produce fruit as large as peaches. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac.
And so it went throughout the garden. Yet coming to a violet, the king found its face as bright and happy as ever and said, “Well violet, I’m glad to find one brave little flower in the midst of this discouragement. You don’t seem to be the least disheartened.”
The violet replied, “No, I’m not. I know I’m small, yet I thought if you wanted an oak or pine, you would have planted one. Since I knew you wanted a violet, I’m determined to be the best little violet I can be.”

Others may do a greater work,
But you have your part to do;
And no one in call God’s family,
Can do it as well as you.

People who are God’s without reservation “have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” His will becomes their will, and they desire to do for Him whatever He desires them to do. They strip themselves of everything, and in their nakedness find everything restored a hundred fold.

Now I know what you are thinking, “Does this girl write any of her own material?” Yes, I do. But more often than not, what I write about is inspired by something else I have read. Thus, I feel obligated to share with you what stirred me to write the things that I do. That being said…
I have a love-hate relationship with “contentment.” I love the idea. I aspire to be content in almost all areas of my life. I want to be content in my place at work, where I live, my relationships, and who I am. I’m not like everyone else. In fact, like the story, I am like no one else at all. But often times, I like oak and pine tree, wish to be another version of a Compassion employee, a female, a friend, or to have another talent of gift set. Like the grapevine, I sometimes wished I produced a different kind of fruit.
You know the saying “Jack of all trades and master of none”? I think I personify that pretty well. There are days when I find it encouraging. Sometimes I like the idea that I can do many things fairly well; I’m diversified, malleable, and equally as excited about this thing as that thing. However, the older I get and the more I find myself in the world of adulthood and business, I wish that I were brilliant in a very specific, useful, and extraordinary way. I wish that I was talented or gifted in such a way that made me renowned, important, respected, and sought after. I understand that this perhaps is not the most holy or humble desire. I’m not proud to admit it either…I’m just saying.
Granted, I am still young. Perhaps the Lord is developing something in me now that will result in me being used in a big way in the future. Is it just me? Does not everyone want to be a hero in at least one chapter in their life? Does not everyone wish to be the person that has the right answer at just the right time? Not necessarily for personal glory, medals of honor, or 15 minutes on Fox News, but rather for a more tangible confirmation of their intrinsic value. God tells us over and over of our worth; of our inherent significance simply because He made us. We are priceless and purposed simply because we were born by His grace. While this is truth, I still, in my flesh, want to taste it.
It is this discontentment within me that I am disgusted by and I’ll tell you why. It is entirely possible that I will never be known by the masses for anything that I have ever said or accomplished. It is likely that the only people I may impact will not remember my name. My mailman knows my name but not my heart. My co-workers know my principle responsibilities while I’m at the office but they don’t know who or what I am beyond our building walls. If I don’t get married, no one may ever know my thoughts or suspect my fears by simply looking into my eyes or holding my hand. I may, just maybe, leave this earth completely undiscovered.

More tragic than that is this: being so self-involved in my own popularity, being so consumed with my future glory; being so nearsighted that I miss even the smallest opportunity to love my neighbor, to serve the stranger on the corner of the street, to simply sit in the stillness and majesty of a mountain range and realize how little I really am. I fear that my selfish discontentment with whatever my current circumstance, will blind my eyes and distract my heart to the beauty, freedom, and joy of living beyond myself.

This leads, ultimately, to the kind of discontentment that I want to bear; the kind of discontentment that I pray for. I never want to be content in my current spiritual standing. I don’t want to fall prey to the allusion that I have figured it all out, that I have nothing more to learn, and that I can coast into heaven on my accrued spirituality. I pray that I never grow so comfortable, so complacent in my walk, that I simply stop seeking to grow and realize the Lord in a new way. I pray the same for you dear reader.

2 comments:

bhackett said...

Wow...thank you for being so real about your discontentment. And no, you aren't the only one who wants to matter, who wants to be the hero in at least one chapter. It is a struggle.
But in the same breath to be able to recognize what you should never be content with, that you long to continue to grow spiritually - that is something to be commended, that is something that brings a smile to the face of our Savior. I know those unseen "rewards" are hard to recognize, hard to hold on to - but the promise is that they will ultimately be more important than anything here.

Thank you for writing...it was very powerful.

The Gyrovague said...

Funny how this comes up in my life, then you blog about it. I fight this all the time. I am a cacophony of jumbled emotions, desires and delayed desires. It stinks, and it stinks in a wonderful way if you know what I mean.

I can say that I am growing, but sometimes in growing I get a glimpse of what "could be" and start to loose focus on just being that which God wants me to be.