Learning to be Content

When Dan and I first married, we bought a house near family. It was a nice split level at the end of the street. It needed some work, but it was our home and I loved it. For a while. But soon my heart began to wander. I wanted more than what we had.

Multnomah FallsA couple years later, we moved to Portland. I loved Portland! All the culture, all the things to do, and all the rain. I love rain 🙂 But after a year, my heart started wandering again. City life was not enough. I wanted more.

Then we moved to the Oregon coast. We lived only five miles from the beach. Almost everyday I would take long walks on the beach or explore the lush, green forest that grew behind the house we lived in. But I was not content. I wanted more.

A short while later, we moved to the middle of the United States. Because of the drastic difference in house prices between the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest, we were able to buy our dream home: a two story brick home at the end of a cul-de-sac with a white picket fence. Surely I would be content, right?

Then Dan lost his job. Sometimes it takes losing everything to realize what you really have.

We now live in Kansas, in a small house. And you know what? I love this small house. My family is here. My heart is here. Sure, I could use a little more counter space in the kitchen, but I can honestly say I haven’t once thought about leaving. It took God moving me across the country and trying out everything I thought my heart desired to realize that contentment comes from being thankful for what you have, big or little.

How about you? Do you struggle with being content with what you have?


10 thoughts on “Learning to be Content”

  1. I’ve learned contentment the hard way. Lost the career I loved, and developed what’s looking like a terminal illness.

    It’s not that I don’t have dreams, or don’t work toward a future that logic tells me I won’t see. I just make sure that the reality of working toward these is a source of contentment in itself – that the journey’s the important thing.

    Part of contentment is satisfaction – being able to work toward a goal, under the circumstances, is a victory that I can potentially win every day.

    There is a downside, and that is an empathy block. It’s getting hard to relate to people who take things too seriously, and who’ll sacrifice too much for something on the never-never. And they can’t empathize with someone whose horizon is REALLY the going down of sun, today – for them I’m rather boring, and limited.

  2. That’s something I struggle with a lot, to be honest. I have dreams and ideas, and sometimes I wonder why my life can’t be like I always “dreamed” I wanted it to be. Then sometimes I get these moments, rare but so worth it, where I realize that, yes, life could be better, but it’s not that bad now. There is so much to be thankful to God for. My life, my home, the few nice things I have, my salvation most of all, my family, so on. Also, God has allowed me to grow up and live in a country where I have some nice things and the freedom to worship Him. I’ve seen worse over in the sandbox. So much to be thankful for when you think about it.

  3. I can certainly relate to your post. I’m a city girl living in the Purgatory of suburbia. We have a lovely updated home in a safe neighborhood with good public schools. Yet I yearn for our apartment (that we still own) in the city. I tell myself this is where we need to be for now, and I try to appreciate what we have. Stories like yours help put things in perspective.

    1. Haha, I can relate to that, Gwen. I tell people I love the trees, mountains, and rain. That’s why I live in Kansas 😉 But I have discovered a beauty here that I have been missing elsewhere: good people, a great church, and the natural beauty of the prairie.

      When the wind blows, it sounds like the ocean. And all the butterflies that show up in the spring. I can’t wait to see those little creatures again. And the thunderstorms. There is nothing like a prairie storm with the chance of tornadoes to realize how powerful God is 🙂

  4. Thanks for a wonderful post, as usual, Morgan. Just out of curiosity, did Dan attend seminary in Portland? Several of my college classmates went to Western Seminary. (And one of my favorite ministries is in Bend, Oregon.)

    Have a blessed day.

  5. Another voice from Oregon here (smaller and smaller all the time, the world is). Perhaps I can turn the question on its head: do we struggle with being content with what we have, or is the struggle against that which we do not have, but desperately want or need? I speak not of “stuff,” but of a desire to sub-create that refuses to disappear in spite of an appalling lack of time, money, and energy. The pieces in the puzzle-box of my imagination are still present and accounted for (at least, I think there are no missing pieces), but the glue that I need to hold them together into a cohesive whole is either lacking in adhesive properties, or isn’t really glue at all.

    Sorry if this strayed a bit, but that’s where my thoughts currently tilt.

  6. Good thoughts, Morgan. Contentment is a matter of the heart. I don’t think it’s wrong to have aspirations, but we run into trouble when they become idols. God is our portion always, and He is enough.

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