Contentment is something I struggle with. I’m always falling upon the conviction that I need to be more content, more satisfied with what I’ve been given. More than my own conviction, I’ve realized lately, that I want my children to be content.
Fortunately, I’m growing in this area. Over the past couple of years my attitude and heart are changing. I’ve learned what it means to be content. God is changing my heart. But, it’s a work in progress. I need to be reminded of the value of contentment nearly every day of my life.
Earlier this week we spent an evening with some great friends, having dinner at their house, and catching up. They have a beautiful house that sits on a canal that leads to a larger body of water in Southern Indiana. My wife and I dream of one day living in a house like theirs, on a lake or canal. When I walked out onto their back deck I immediately saw the canal. I’m one of those weirdos that stares at things like this. I stared at it for an awkwardly long period of time. A pontoon boat full of people even passed as I stood there. I stared at all of them too! I know, weird!
But through the course of the night I never found myself thinking, “Boy, if only I lived in this house! Then my life would be complete.” In fact, I never thought this. I rejoiced in the fact that I could be a guest of such great people in such a great home. That’s how I know I’m growing. Five or 6 years ago, this might not have been the case. That night, when we arrived home, I looked at my house, and breathed in deep. I’m thankful for the home that God has blessed us with. As my children ran from the van into our house, I breathed in again, thankful for their beautiful lives!
I want my children to be content with the life they’ve been given. I want them to see clearly the blessings they have! Through a lot of personal struggles, that have been very hard to over come, I’ve learned the value of contentment. When it comes to living by this and teaching this to my children, here’s what I’ve discovered:
Contentment is taught, when contentment is modeled!
If I want my children to be content with the amazing blessings they have been given, then I need to model this personally. They need to see me living contently.
We have to stop wanting what is “better!”
If I’m always wanting more or better, I can expect that they’ll want the same. If they see me discontent with the cell phone I have, or the car I drive, or the clothes I wear, they will not be content with anything they have either. We also need to help them understand that better is a mirage. It’s an illusion that we in the U.S. have bought into. New doesn’t equal better and better doesn’t mean it’s higher quality or even right.
Calculate, as a family, the blessings you’ve already been given.
Add up what you have already. Do the math. And then, base your contentment on that! Not on what you do not have. You will never be content when you do that. When my children stomp their feet and scream, “But I want one!” I need to take advantage of that moment to show them what they (and we) already have! And then, I need to send them to time out for their bratty, awful behavior! 🙂
Contentment is an extremely hard thing to model and teach. But discontentment only causes you to be unhappy and spend lots of money. Besides, you’ll never truly reach any kind of goal with your family by living in discontentment. You’ll be driven by what you don’t have to such a degree that you’ll never experience the peace of what you do have!
Have you struggled with contentment lately? How are you overcoming? What else would you add to this list?