A beautiful gift the internet has given us is the place to exchange ideas and information. I have enjoyed watching ladies share their lives and experiences from Xanga days, all the way to now. And it seems in the past 20 years, there has been an explosion of blogs, books, podcasts, seminars, all by women and for women. Many of us could easily list four or five popular authors, bloggers and speakers. I love the input and interaction.
I have found, however, that two things have happened with this movement:
- We don’t look back as far or as often in history as we should. With the constancy and fluidity of new information and ideas, we have gotten stuck in the present. Its hard to keep up with the new, much less pay attention to history. Are we telling the stories of Gladys Aylward and Corrie Ten Boom to our daughters? Elisabeth Elliot and Mary Slessor? Going back even further, stories from the early church, stories of the marytred Christians? These ladies lived meaningful, useful lives and their stories could possibly speak into our struggles.
- The Bible has become more of a spiritual-part-of-our-lives book, while the other books inform our shopping-hobbies-extra part of our lives. This happens so subtly, one could hardly notice. We have gotten accustomed to the new style of pretty words and whimsical ideas presented so attractively and we build our life mission statements around them. For example: the new doctrine of beauty whose premise rests in the fact that God is the designer of beauty, and therefore we should display beauty in our lives is in fact, partially true. But truth lives in community with other truths. It’s also true that drinking a can of diet coke every day won’t kill me, but to use that truth as the premise for how I eat would be destructive. The problem with so many popular new ideas is not that they don’t have elements of truth, but that they aren’t presented with their balancing counterparts. The balancing counterparts aren’t all that whimsical or pretty. “Godliness, with contentment is great gain,” just doesn’t have the same appeal and won’t get the same response. I’ve been convicted of the amount of weight and priority I have given to this at the expense of the practical, straight-forward words of Jesus.
I used to think somewhat negatively of the concept of contentment. That it involved a lot of saying no to things we really enjoy but don’t need and that it included a good bit of self-denial. I’ve come to see it in a bit differently. The reason most of us like to shop after we’ve eaten is to keep us from wandering the Cheetos and ice cream aisles. We intentionally eat something good, to help us resist the temptation of the not-so-good. Contentment is the same idea. It’s the place of living in enough; in fullness. It’s the thought of filling our lives with meaningful things, so that the lesser things don’t really tempt us. It’s not just saying no to the Cheetos, it’s not even wanting them.
I’m not going to sit here and act all sanctimonious and pretend that I never want the Cheetos. I’m a full-blooded woman, preparing to move into a house that will need new paint and furnishings. I love beauty and the expression of beauty. I think this room is gorgeous:
picture from Pinterest
Frankly, it scares me a little. I’m single too, so I don’t even have a husband to act as my brakes.
Contentment will mean different things for each of us, and our calling is not to project our standards onto others, but to figure out what it means for us.
Maybe for me it means being content with the chipped counters in my new house. Not getting a new bedspread because I’m tired of the one I’ve had for years. Maybe it means choosing paint and curtains that match the things I already own, instead of creating a new style of what I really like.
I don’t know what it means for me yet, but I do know that God and I are going to have to have some really good talks in the next couple months.
What does contentment look like to you?