When you’re disconnected from the world, everything takes on a different meaning.
Suddenly, what seemed life or death is revealed for what it really is. And you can stand back, and see how far you have come.
It’s amazing what can happen when we stop and stand away from our lives. (tweet this if you like).
My recent time away allowed me space to see where my own life was. How I was doing. Where I was growing and where I was stagnating. And it allowed me to see how far I had come. Doing this, I was able to gain something invaluable.
Perspective. And this perspective allowed me to stop feeling anxious and worried, and helped me grow in contentment.
Given the benefit of space, I was able to see just how rich my life is.
I have amazing friends and family who love me. A great church. A job. The opportunity to write and serve others. My own home. I am growing and learning all the time.
In other words, I am so, so blessed.
In scripture Paul tells us he’s found the secret of being ‘content whatever the circumstances’. And as I reflected on this, and my life right now, it got me thinking. You see, contentment is not something familiar to me. Throughout my life I’ve been largely anxious, nervous about what’s to come. Once as a child I told my mum I was worried because I didn’t have anything to worry about.
Not often have I stopped to see where I am or how far I’ve come. I’ve been worried about the future, and often felt I don’t have enough. I’ve looked ahead of me on the path of life and wondered why I’m not keeping up with “everyone else” (by which, I mean my peers).
But now I feel more content. Space has given me this.
However, this inevitably brings with it the comment
“If you’re content, you’re not going to grow”.
It’s a common view, that if you get become content, you will eventually stop growing and life will begin to stagnate.
But it’s not true.
If you think this, you’re making the two mistakes many people – including me in the past – have made:
First, confusing contentment with complacency.
There is a huge difference with being content where you are, and sticking around there. When we are content, we are pleased with where we are. We have a full appreciation of what’s going on in our lives, what we really have, how lucky we are. We value the blessings in our lives.
When we’re complacent, we simply choose to stay there. We think we’re done. We don’t bother trying to move forward with our lives anymore because we make the mistake of assuming there’s no more to go. No more we can achieve.
And this is a huge mistake. Which brings me neatly to the second error I, and many of us have made:
The mistake is the assumption contentment and growth are incompatible – when it fact, it’s the complete opposite. Contentment isn’t an enemy of growth. It’s a partner. They go together, complimenting each other and working with each other for our benefit. Contentment is more like a motorway stop, where we pause, look back on where we’ve been and then prepare for the next part of the journey. And it’s part of the journey itself.
But what contentment isn’t, is satisfaction. Satisfaction is much more dangerous.
I’m not satisfied with my life. My desire is to keep growing in all areas – writing, faith, discipleship, relationships, work and others. To keep moving forward, raising the bar, pushing the boundaries, becoming more mature.
But every so often, I can stop to look at where I am. And no matter what happens along the journey, I can feel content – because I remember I am very blessed in so many ways, because I am growing, not stagnating. I have forward momentum. Because if I don’t have forward momentum to my life, then I am going backwards.
But if I’m moving forward, I can at once be at peace. Be content. Know I am blessed, rich in relationships, and moving forward. I don’t need to be anxious about the future. As I know whatever happens,
I am okay.
I’m not alone.
And maybe, just maybe, I have moved closer to discovering the secret of contentment.
Do you agree with me or disagree with me?
Are you content or complacent? Do you believe they are different?
Do you have forward momentum to your life, and did you realise contentment can be part of that?
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