Thursday, November 12, 2015

Gut Check: Contentment

Unbridled, or tethered in tide, 
the safety of the fence or the danger of the ride, 
I'll always be unsatisfied

A few years ago I worked under a man named Forrest who insisted on bi-weekly "gut checks". These gut checks were his way of keeping a pulse on the business and the voices of his team members. Were we focusing on the things we should be? While there were weeks I didn't have much to say, there were also weeks that the punch in the gut was exactly what I needed: whether I originally believed that when I entered the meeting, or not. 

Fast forward seven years (time flies):
Sunday we sat down in the pew and I opened the bulletin. If you're feeling sorry for yourself, read through the church prayer list. Heart wrenching. 
The sermon headline instantly caught my skimming eyes: Are You Content?
Without hesitation I answered in my head, Of course.
I took notes throughout the sermon, anyway. 
I didn't know it then, but a gut check was on it's way. 

As it turns out, people can be a lot of things. 
But truly content? That's tough to accomplish. 

As it turns out, contentment is not a matter of circumstances, but rather a matter of attitude. Sometimes the most difficult thing we have to learn to do is separate what is really important or valuable with all the other "stuff" that can interfere with a content life. 
The family beside you. 
Your health. 
Home windows that don't sing with the wind. 
Someone you can count on. 
Comfortable shoes.  
The whole idea of taking assessment of those truly important things -  and learning to live with out life's frivolous perks - reminded me of the story I told some time ago about what is was like to grow up rich. Did you happen to grow up rich, too?
I was told once that if you can talk/text on your cell phone while waiting in line to upgrade to a new one, you're rich enough. 
How is that for perspective?

As it turns out, a guaranteed way to find contentment is to quit comparing yourself and your life anything.
To others'. 
To what might have been. 
To something you read in a magazine. 
To something you saw from a distance. 
To the what if that still burns inside you. 
How tough is this?  Daily we're surrounded with other people who seem to completely have it together. 
In the bank. 
At the house. 
With the family. 
Amidst the solid future plan. 
Where does that leave you and the 854 questions still left lingering in your head?
In a world where something - or someone - more is just a click or conversation away, it's no wonder we may find ourselves constantly seeking ways to find something better. 
Do something bigger, better. Are the most discontent people the ones who have to keep up with social statuses?
Go somewhere farther, more exotic. Are the most discontent people the ones who constantly claim that they need a vacation? Personally, I prefer a life that I don't need to vacation from. 
Be someone better, more exciting. Are the most discontent people the ones who never find peace within themselves?

That brings me to the final gut check:

Perhaps the greatest ways to find contentment in life is to find - and live - your purpose. 
Purpose and contentment are actually brothers, did you know that? And while they're not conjoined and the hip, you can usually find one with the other. 
Diving into your life's purpose can be the most terrifying, gratifying thing you ever do. It may take some time to find it. Sure, you're on this earth to love your husband or wife, be a teaching parent and keep the family unit operational. But is there something more? What is missing?

Where might you finally find that contentment? 

Maybe you're not making the income you hoped for. Work to improve yourself and your abilities. 
Maybe you haven't lost the weight you've let drag you down for years. Today is the day to get started. 
Maybe you're 1,000 miles from where you want to end up. Devise a plan to get there. 
Maybe you find yourself going back to what could have, might have, should have been. There  is nothing more empty than living in those terms. 
Maybe you walk through your house and dream of all the improvements you'd like to see made. Make a list and start saving your money. 
Maybe there is still a void. Pray about it. 

There is power in saying, honestly: 

This is where I am today. 
I am confident it will get better. 

It's strange that sometimes I can remember the exact moment that I got my name on the board for the very first time. Mrs. Baker's class. 1990. I was talking out of line. I told Kristen Sparks I liked her headband. I remember that as though it was yesterday. But other times I have a terribly difficult time remembering my purpose. And that's when discontentment begins to set up camp in my life. 

Sunday was the best gut check I've had in some time. Not because it was something I wanted to hear, but because it was something I needed to hear. 
I know that I'm happy, but am I content?
Are you?

We studied Philippians 4:10-13 
:: Thanks for the Gifts::

Oh, how I long to live this. 
No matter the circumstances. 


  1. You nailed this one! Thank you for having the talent to put into words the thoughts many of of have.

    1. Lynne, Thank you for that very kind compliment. I truly appreciate you reading! I write these things because they're on my heart, too.