Recently I read a devotional on the subject of contentment that said, "Though there are plans for the future, contentment never sacrifices the present moment to indulge in gloom, greed, or restlessness."
I don't know about you, but I've sacrificed a TON of present moments. And if I'm honest, the altar I laid them on was self-indulgence of the gloomy, greedy, restless varietal. My current situation isn't "enough," it's not all I want, so I'll dwell on what I want rather than what I have. First off, I'll give myself a bit of leeway here because as a sufferer of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, I am prone to catastrophising about the future and overthinking, to name a few traits. I think many people are, which is why Headspace is such a brilliant app, and mindfulness meditation has become so popular a treatment.
But it's still something I can work on, whether or not I'm more predisposed to it than others. So when I read this devotional, it made me think. Contentment has often felt, to me, like giving up. That Scripture where Paul says he's learned to be content in every situation has always made me uncomfortable because I'm pretty sure, apart from a handful of especially wonderful days, I've never been able to say that with 100% honesty. My mind always looks ahead to the next worry, or the next want.
Exhibit A: On our honeymoon, I spent half the week worrying about our wedding guests, if they got home okay, if they had a nice time, and how guilty I felt for flying off and leaving my Mom and aunt alone to find their way home from Scotland to the USA, and how I didn't spend enough time with them or anyone who traveled so far to celebrate with us. I wasn't being content. I was being a total saddo worrywart who was convinced everyone was crushed that we didn't get to be with them long enough.
But now, I think what the devotional's author was trying to impart is pretty simple, and maybe I've just been around long enough to start to understand simple things I've always overcomplicated (another fun trait of GAD). I checked the dictionary for "contentment" and origins of the word "content," and the first listing was the noun: "Everything that is inside a container." Maybe not the definition I was after, but it fit. Perfectly. Focusing on everything inside me, inside this moment. It doesn't dismiss, but rather, values, the current situation and state of being, without restlessness, despite future hopes and plans. Which are still wholly legitimate.
I used to think of contentment as a state of never wanting more. But now I think it means being grateful for my current blessings, and even difficult situations — the long waits, the hurdles, the unanswered questions or prayers — knowing they're necessary steps for my growth and progression.
I can't use, enjoy, or fear anything that's not within the confines of my today. But being content does not mean I give up on dreams for tomorrow.
I can't use, enjoy, or fear anything that's not within the confines of my today. I want to get the most value out of whatever I'm facing right now. But being content does not mean I give up on dreams for tomorrow. This may not be at ALL what the author meant, but it works for me, and it's something I will work at over the next however-long-it-takes to make it a natural state of being.