The Secret of Contentment?

Erik Cooper —  September 28, 2011 — 3 Comments

I want a lot of things, including not to want so much.

It’s funny, I’ve always thought of myself as a relatively content guy. But nothing gets the “want juices” flowing like a good dose of comparison. Envy sneaks up like a blitzing linebacker on Curtis Painter’s blindside.

Last night we drove to Bloomington. My brother and sister in-law are looking at buying a new house and they wanted our opinion on a couple of places they’re considering. I’ve always admired David. He’s brilliant. A scrapper. Always trading up, buying and selling, figuring out how to get more with less. He really has a God-given gift.

And he’s busted his butt over the last 15 years to build both a vibrant church and a profitable business. My heart was full of joy and excitement as we helped them search for their next place to live.

And then the little “want monster” appeared. It starts in your gut, works it’s way up through the spine, and settles into the quiet recesses of your brain.

Psssst…hey, Erik. You need a new house, too. Come on, you want one. You know you do.”

The whole dialog is crazy. We’ve lived in a ridiculously beautiful house for the last 11 years. Plenty of space. More than we need. More than we’ve earned. Way more than we deserve. But the allure of “what’s still out there” so easily becomes the object of our infatuation. Our wants are endless.

So is there more than one way to find contentment? I love this quote from GK Chesterton:

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more & more. The other is to desire less.”

Pursuing new things isn’t necessarily wrong. Sometimes it’s wise. But when our desire for more overcomes our submission to Christ, when jealousy swallows our ability to celebrate with others, it’s time to repent.

If you’re fighting discontentment, it may be time to pursue something new: wanting less.

“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.” -Phillipians 4:12 NIV

3 responses to The Secret of Contentment?

  1. Love Chesterton. He has such a way of putting profound concepts into words that even people like me can understand.

    Please pray that I daily, continually submit myself to Christ.

  2. I agree. I wanted more and more beautiful and was totally discontent the whole time we were redoing the other house – especially once hubby was commuting and it really felt like he had moved on (he hadn’t). Then we started redoing the kitchen. The stove was in the dining room. The fridge was in the mudroom. I cooked in a tiny nook furnished with a hot plate, a microwave, and a toaster oven. The bare essentials for cooking and enough dinnerware for two people for one meal was left unpacked. If I turned my back on the cooking area (literally just did a 180) I was standing at the sink and looking out the window – my favorite window. Cooking and cleaning up was so easy. There were few steps, few dishes to clean up, hardly anything to put away. Meals were just as tasty and creative as ever. We did finish the kitchen and it is beautiful and I did enjoy using it, but in the few weeks that we had to majorly down size I found out that I enjoyed less effort way more than huge space. The present house has its limitations and there are a few spots that desperately need a fresh coat of paint. However, hubby and I are praying and tapping into creativity to make space and design serve us and meet our needs. For the most part, the former dreams of bigger and prettier are gone. I don’t need it and can’t think of why to want it.

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