I was in the car the other day with my kids, and as I was driving I was just listening to their conversations with each other about what they were wanting for Christmas. My five year old, bless her heart, literally wants every single thing she sees advertised on a commercial. Half the time I don’t think she actually knows what the thing does or what it even is, but whatever it is she wants it for Christmas. When she sees the advertisements for all these new toys that can do all these really cool things, she immediately forgets about all of the toys she already has. All she is focused on is that she doesn’t have THAT toy. Just minutes before, she could have been having a great time contently playing in her room with what she already has, but the second the commercial comes on her attention is diverted and that contentment is gone.
Now, it’s my job as her parent to teach her the importance of having a grateful heart and how to be content with what she has. I need to be patient with her, realizing that she’s a child. Since contentment is a learned attitude, it will take time to instill these things into her. I’m sure that other parents out there have dealt with the same thing. I’ll be honest – sometimes it’s easy for us to get frustrated when our kids struggle with being ungrateful or they lack an attitude of contentment.
After all, we adults never struggle with being discontent in life and are always perfectly satisfied with what we have and where we’re at…right? Obviously not! In the same way that children have to learn to be content, so do we. It may flesh out in different ways, but it’s still there. We want a higher position at our place of employment and are discontent with the position we currently have. We see the bigger house with the high end finishes, and we become less grateful for the home we have. We have big dreams of things we want to do and be, and we are no longer content with where God has us right now.
It’s a good to dream big, set goals and never settle for less than God’s very best. And it’s a good to want to advance in our careers and to work hard to get there. The problem comes when we focus so much on our pursuit of these dreams and goals that we allow our hearts to become discontent with our right now. Our right now, whatever that may be, has many beautiful opportunities waiting for us — opportunities that we may miss out on if we don’t learn the art of contentment. Not only that, but learning the art of contentment will enable us to live the life that God has for us.
The apostle Paul puts it this way – …”I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
Paul tells us that he has discovered the secret to living in EVERY situation is being content. No matter how much or how little we have, no matter what position we hold or what season we are in, it is possible to be content in every situation because we can do everything through Christ. Now, learning to be content doesn’t mean that we give up on dreaming and no longer work really hard to reach our goals. It’s not an either/or mentality, but rather a both/and mentality. It is possible to be fully present in our right now and to still continue to dream big for our future. In fact, I believe that finding contentment in our right now and soaking up every moment and opportunity for growth will further prepare us for what’s next and at the same time will enable us to find the beauty in our right now.