I’m looking at a picture of Derek and Craig that I keep on my refrigerator. Craig is around two years old; Derek five. They had pulled all their outside toys out of the two foot tall, round cardboard barrel they kept them in and climbed inside. When the picture was taken, they were grinning in delight, perfectly content to be inside the barrel while all their toys lay scattered around them, out of reach.
Contentment. The ability to be satisfied with one’s self or surroundings. A word that modern media uses only when advertising the latest and greatest item that will bring us contentment.
As children, we are taught to measure our lives by what comes next. Our first steps, first words, first day of kindergarten, first sleepover, first dance, first day of high school, graduation…and so on. There are goals set in place to strive for. And these are all good things.
I remember Derek asking when he could go to school. I mistakenly replied that when he was five, he would start kindergarten. So, on his fifth birthday,Derek asked when he was going. His birthday is October 4, so of course, he had to wait until the following fall to start. When I explained this to him, he told me, “Fine…but they are gonna wonder where I am!”
Goals are important. They keep us on track, keep us focused. They give us purpose and something to measure our efforts by. But sometimes, goals can do more. They can keep us from enjoying where we are already. They can keep us from appreciating what we already have.
When Jim and I decided to buy a new car, many year ago, I immediately became dissatisfied with the one we were currently driving. It’s not like it didn’t run (and run well). But now, I had visions of a new car in my mind and instead of being thankful for the one we had, I saw all the things that were wrong with it. Never mind that it got me where I needed to go; I wanted to go there in a new car…you know…with that new car smell.
It’s funny because it wasn’t too long after we had our new car that a lady turned in front of me and totalled our new car. That wreck kept me from working for nine months with my injuries…injuries that are still plaguing me today. Not that the wreck had anything to do with the particular car I was driving. But objects like cars are just that…objects.
This past weekend, I was at my “home to be” in Mt. Carmel, sitting outside and watching Jim…watching birds. I thought about how blessed we were; two healthy children, a wonderful daughter-in-law, loving families, good friends, awesome church home. With everything that has gone on for the past two years, I have to say that I’ve never been more content in my life. Maybe part of it comes with age…with seeing your children grow up and move on to follow their own dreams. But mostly, I think it’s the time I’ve had to spend with God.
Sitting up at 3 a.m. with ice packs or a heating pad, trying to get my pain under control enough to sleep, gives me a unique opportunity to be with God without the worry of getting enough sleep to work the next day or having the phone interrupt my quiet time. It would be easy to focus on the negative; but that only tends to make matters worse. What does the old song say?
You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
I think of my Grandma Gammel a lot when I’m up at night. She was my mother’s mom and a double amputee (from diabetes). But I remember going to visit her and having her fuss over us the whole time were there. I don’t remember her ever listing all the things wrong in her life. And she surely had a long list. Widowed, impoverished, physically handicap…but she was a woman of strong faith. She lived her life to fullest, the best she was able to do. What an amazing role model!
You know, we all have hopes and dreams. We all have needs and desires. But the one thing that we as Christians need most, we already have. It came as the ultimate sacrifice, over two thousand years ago.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~~John 3:16
So while you are traveling this journey called life, remember to stop and admire the view of where you are right now.
We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. ~~Frederick Keonig