The art of contentment
'I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.'
My husband and I are going through some financial hardships right now. So are over 25million other Americas who are unemployed and either have, or soon will be, running out of unemployment benefits.
Are we really that bad off right now? I don't think so. Yes, it is embarrassing, time consuming, and inconvenient to have to go to the food bank for grocery assistance, but I'm glad it's there. It's embarrassing to sign up for food stamps yet we did, just today.
In our present day culture, discontentment is used to hype imaginary need until it feels real. I need a new car, I need to cook like a Master Chef. I must redecorate my house in this years, 'it' color. In reality, however, you do not need any of these things to be truly happy. You just believe you do because you have been trained to think this way by our very commercialized society.
The reality of our nation's present day financial depression is that we are still better off, for now, than our great-grandparents, and grandparents were during their great depression. Women use to have 3-4 basic dresses with one very nice dress to wear to church. Some people I know have closets large enough to be a studio apartment for some lucky person. The average house during the previous depression contained 2 bedrooms and yet housed over 4 people. Today, we have a bedroom for each member of the family. Food was rationed both during the Great Depression and during WWII. My mother still has her food ration card. Our nation is not at the point of rationing food, yet, and I hope it does not come to that, but it could. There are not caravans of displaced persons roaming the nation looking for work. I am still living in my house and not in a tent city with raw sewage all around. I still have clothes to wear, although yes my right shoe now has a hole in its side and my jeans are wearing out, and my one good bra is now 20 years old and in desperate need of being replaced. There just is no money in our budget at this time for anything except the very basics we need to survive. Yet, we are content.
Our present day culture of consumerism relies upon people being discontented with their situation in order for the system to work. This is what drives them to get up off the couch and to go out looking for that one thing that they can buy that will make it all better. It could be anything from something small like a new lipstick, to something large... as in a new car, or the newest technology. But what if we learned how to be content with what we have instead of seeking the next new, big thing to make us happy? Most of us know that things do not make us happy. We've heard the old chestnut, 'money can't buy happiness' but it has been changed, and mocked today to mean 'if you cannot find happiness in spending, you do not know where to shop'. Even with all the rampant consumerism and distractions available to us today, so many are still not happy- let alone able to find contentment. Yet I am content. I am grateful. I have much for which to be thankful. You see, in December of last year, my husband went into a diabetic coma. We had just celebrated (if you can call it that) our 9th wedding anniversary. It went by mostly ignored because he was in the beginning stages of slipping away into a coma and we didn't know it. I almost became a widow at the age of 46, nine years after saying, 'I do'. I spent 3 days in a haunted room in the ICU with my beloved waiting for him to wake up. He did, on Friday the 13th. Three days later, the love of my life came home. I am more than content. I am darn lucky. I prayed for years to have a husband. We met when I was 36 and married when I was 37. He is not perfect, nor am I, but he is a blessing to me everyday and I make sure he knows this, even when- or especially when, he aggravates me.
Yes, we are having financial difficulties. Yes I could, and have, complained, but the bottom line is that we still have each other. We have relatively good health, and we still have our house. Many people waste time looking for things to complain about but I'm not sure why. Perhaps they need the attention. Why not take some time and find out if you can be content with what you have? Do you need the latest Apple gadget? No. Do you need a new vehicle just because you cannot imagine not driving a new car every two years? No. Discontentment wrecks your spirit and the environment. Learn how to be content with what you have and how to make the most of the blessings you have been given. A content heart is a; happy heart, an independent heart, and a brave heart.