I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment lately. And also feeling like something in my contentment wiring is about to short circuit.
In a previous post, I shared my struggle with the looming possibility of our having to move when the house we are living in sells, unless God provides a way for me to be able to purchase it. And so, I’ve begun to look at rentals that are currently available in my town.
Now mind you, I’m content where I am right now (that would be an understatement, actually). And as I look around, nothing that I see even comes close to comparing to this house (in my biased opinion!). BUT, as I consider each option, I can’t help experiencing what it would feel like to live in that place and the ways, as a family, we would settle (really live) in that place and what we would enjoy about it that we don’t have here.
All the homes and apartments I’m looking at are a lot smaller than our current home. But some of them do have bonuses we don’t have here–screened in porch. Or a garage. Or an apartment complex has a pool (that’s funny, actually, because it is a low income apartment complex, but it looks like I don’t even have enough verifiable income to meet their minimum requirements. Ha! I’m too poor to make it into the low income apartment! I’m not too sad about that really, because pool or no, we’d sure miss a yard!) One tiny, but adorable house with reasonable rent looks a lot like the house we live in now, except that it is smaller, and it has a fireplace! (now I know most of you couldn’t imagine us needing fireplaces in Florida, but let me tell you there’s nothing quite like curling up with a book in front of a nice warm fire when it’s a chilly 60 degrees outside!)
It would be nice if I could just be rational about it all, and list out the advantages of each place in my head and leave it at that until we actually have to move. At that point, we’d move into what was cheap and available and get to work at being content there. But, it is the FEELING of it all so intensely while trying to figure out my options that makes me feel like I’m going to blow an emotional fuse.
Maybe for you contentment is a choice vs. a feeling, but for me, it is a choice tied inextricably to a whole lot of feelings. And right now my emotions are bouncing back and forth in confusion–content here, hoping we can stay here. But then, truly beginning to feel content as I consider the possibility of another place that is totally different. I can’t actually think about living in any house I look at, without feeling as if I’m there, with my family, adapting, being content and already emotionally “moving on” from the house which I’m still actually living in–the house I want to stay in forever (well, the temporal kind of forever–not the eternal forever 🙂 )
I don’t like feeling such opposing contentments. It is confusing and painful. I greatly dislike the in-between time when I’m longing to stay here where I’m already content and yet beginning to accept and come to terms with how we’ll be okay and content wherever we go, if we do have to move. Even while I hope and pray we can stay.
A role model right now for me is George Macdonald. Here’s what C.S. Lewis said about him, “He appears to have been a sunny, playful man, deeply appreciative of all really beautiful and delicious things that money can buy, and no less deeply content to do without them.”
And here’s what George Macdonald himself says:
Let me, if I may, be ever welcomed to my room in winter by a glowing hearth, in summer by a vase of flowers; if I may not, let me think how nice they would be, and bury myself in my work. I do not think that the road to contentment lies in despising what we have not got. Let us acknowledge all good, all delight that the world holds, and be content without it. (both quotes from Legacy of a Pack Rat, by Ruth Bell Graham, p. 150)
Lord, let it be true of me.