Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just a little more...contentment?

A couple of months ago, a little boy came over to play with Noah. Nice kid, nice family. The two new friends had a good time in our condo.

As the little boy left to go back to his house, he said to Noah, “You gotta come over to our house and play. The trampoline in our backyard is as big as your whole house.”

Noah responded, “Mom, can I go over right now?”

He didn’t know to be insulted. Good for him. I, on the other hand, immediately bought some apps and had a pity party.

My home is not a huge place to live. It is, however, a nice, comfy home with lots of love. But the Enemy loves to sneak up on me and whisper thoughts of discontentment. It happens often.

When we lived in California, we lived in a series of small rented homes or apartments. Every month we would have dinner with two other couples who owned huge homes. Our standard self-defacing joke became, “We rent, but we’re good people.”

So when we moved to Denver and were able to buy our own condo, I felt so grateful. I own walls! That door is mine! This closet belongs to me. It was quite a feeling of joy. Victory, even.

So now, here I am, fighting the contentment war. Again. Why can’t I just be content with what I have? Why do I have that little cringing feeling when I go to a friend’s house who has a living room AND a den. When I visit a fellow writer who happens to have an actual office for a writing space, I have that moment where I must immediately choose my reaction. Do I choose honest joy for her and gratitude for what I DO have? Or do I open the little door that releases the floodgate of resentment, first with drops of jealousy and then a deluge of discontentment?

Yesterday I received absolutely wonderful news. A wonderful literary agency offered me to represent me. Talk about excited. You’d think that kind of joy in my life would give me such a thankful heart that nothing could diminish the thrill of today.

And yet…this morning Noah and I were invited to go to a fellow writer’s house. Her home is absolutely gorgeous. I was fine with that. But before we visited them, we made a plan for her son to come back with us after a couple of hours to our home to play with Noah. Uh-oh. Once again, I had that moment of decision. God is so gracious and kind and helped me to choose gratitude. I looked around at our condo and I thanked Him for our big bathtub, (I lived with just a shower for years) the washer and dryer, (we used to budget a roll of quarters for laundry every week) and our living room with the amazing windows (I love the light we get.)

Because of God’s strength, I was able to make a choice to take pleasure in her house and enjoy my home and the chance to offer hospitality to her family.

Contentment is a choice. One that reaps a peaceful heart and a grateful spirit. I wish this came naturally for me. It doesn’t.

When Noah and her son were talking about swimming at our condo’s pool, Noah told him, “Well we don’t have a pool in our backyard. We live in apartments.”

My first reaction?

Noah, it’s a condo, not an apartment!

Lord, help me.


Kay Day said...

I know just how you feel. We talked about this. And even though I have some of the stuff you want, I get discontent. We always want more...
I bet the people with the mansions get discontent, too. We always want more.

But you are so right, we just have to make the decision to be grateful. I would rather be content in a shack than discontent in a mansion.

And for me - so much of it is tied up in what others think of me. I have more value in there eyes - I think - if I have a house at least as nice as there's. Right? Ugh.

Ralph said...

Been thinking about this for a couple days, not sure what to type but have many ideas going through my head right now. I want to say words that are comforting without sounding like I'm blowing sunshine where it doesn't.

i think the 2 lines you write near the end sum it up best 1- "Because of God's strength ...."
and 2- "Contentment is a choice... " Be Blessed in all you do according to his riches.

Danica/Dream said...

Yeah, it is a choice. Even in my new perfect house, I'm finding things to not be content with. *sigh*

I need to hang up a picture of a cardboard box where people live to remind that it could be so much worse.

Megan DiMaria said...

It's always something, Robbie. Really. And it looks like you understand that.

When we moved to our current house, I thought it was all that. Still do. It's mine and I love it. Right down to the very, very small backyard. But it's my backyard with lovely flowers and trees, a delightful (small) fountain, and my favorite part--a hammock that sways beneath my maple tree.

And then a young woman (friend of daughter's) came by one day. She greeted me and said, "I like coming to your house. It's so, so..." She looked around and scrunched up her shoulders. "So cozy."

I know what she meant. Compared to her house it's tiny and cramped. My backyard is about the size of her garage. No kidding. LOL. But you know what? My house is filled with laughter, love, dreams and hopes. Her house is so large that it echoes.

I could be wrong on this, but when I pray for God to "give me the desires of my heart," I'm not praying that He will give me whatever I want. I'm praying that He will instill the desires I will cherish. Even if it's a backyard the size of a large garage.

Hey, you need to come over some day. We'll sit on the patio and enjoy a glass of ice tea.

A prisoner of hope,

Momstheword said...

When I come home from a visit to my daughter's house, I feel a little bit trapped in my small, dark house. Hers has windows which face an open space of country, with busy little animals and birds. My house used to have an open space behind it but it now houses mobile homes. I feel a little claustrophobic at times as we're surrounded by trees. Then I remember that God gave us this house. We were trying to buy another house in 1973-74 when interest rates on loans were 16%. Yes, 16%. Our former house wouldn't sell, we couldn't get a loan, and then it was too late. Then, two or three banks called with approval of our loan and our house sold. We drove around and saw this house, and my husband knew the lady. She let us look around and we went downtown and bought it, assuming a 7% VA loan, yes, 7&. The difference in the payments was exactly the amount we needed for the Christian School that our church started two months later. We would have never been able to have them in that school. So I remind myself that God gave us this little humble house. I still get a little restless on occasion, however. I truly am not very fancy, in any way.

Robbie Iobst said...

I really want to thank everyone for their comments. Your words have encouraged me and let me know once again, we all share the thing called human nature! Thank God. :)