Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
1 Timothy 6:6-7
This verse is important because it establishes a target for us, the being contentment. When everything has changed and you were already content with the food and clothing you had and now it’s a struggle in both areas how do you get back to being content without those things. Can it be done, Can you Dance with the Scar of losing everything? Yes. Let’s consider a few truths to help our understanding of how to get there.
First of all I want to say something you already know and believe, something you would say yourself without hesitation when things were good. You would say it and sincerely mean it and that is: Contentment comes from God not things. This is an easy truth to quote when things are going well but this truth isn’t lessened or changed by circumstances. Remembering this is critical to our handling dramatic lifestyle changing events. However, if we think contentment will come back when we “gain” the things that we lost we have misunderstood the definition of contentment in the first place. Some who are reading may be thinking, I know that but it doesn’t make it hurt any less, it’s still hard, and you would be right. But something hurting and being hard does not change truth either and the truth is that contentment can be had and should be sought outside of the re-accumulation of things. You can be content with little in comparison to the much you used to have and I know it’s true because the Bible says it and I have seen it with my own eyes. Let me make a point of recognition here before we go any further, having a comfortable amount of money to feed your family, put clothes on their backs and have nice things with money left over is wonderful. Of course it is easier to be content when life is like that, but life is not always like that. Life can be hard, companies close, illnesses come and circumstances and standards of living change. I mentioned that contentment is attainable even when things have changed dramatically because I have seen it. I have had my own personal financial situation turned upside down in the past and I did not like it one bit and yes, contentment seemed to become an illusive and moving target. In this most recent recession with the housing market crash I have seen couples and families lose everything including their marriage, I have seen other couples lose equally as much financially but they never lost their contentment, even with each other. Does that mean they were mindless drones impervious to care and concern. No, it means that they found their contentment in their godliness not in their lifestyle. I also want to say do not feel guilty about not liking the change of life circumstance, thats not what this chapter is about, to make you love struggling or enjoy straining to make ends meet. That is not our subject.
Like with every truth we have addressed in our chapters the concept is easy to accept and difficult to implement. How do you Dance with the Scar of losing everything, how do you go through such a season with hope, joy and peace in tact. Having traveled to third world countries I can say with full confidence that hope, joy and peace and the contentment that comes from them is entirely possible with very little material means. I have been in the “shacks” of people in Africa who were kind, loving and happy and contented people. I have also come to realize that the young people who are more media savvy in these same situations are more unhappy than the adults who don’t know anything other than being poor. Yes, they like any family would rather not worry about where the food is going to come from and yes they would of course like to improve their living standards. But many of them have contentment and discontentment seems to fester more in those who have seen how the rest of the world live via the internet or television. My point in all this is not to say; some people will be poor and others won’t so just deal with it. What I want to establish is this; Discontentment is learned behavior. Think back to when you were a kid. I remember my dad working three jobs and I realized as an adult that he didn’t do that for fun, he did it for his family, it is what it took to make ends meet. I remember as a boy going with him to the gas station or the wood shop where he worked as side jobs after working a full time job during the day. I thought it was great, I loved washing car windows or pumping gas for people. (This is back when all gas stations were full service) For me it was an adventure, for my dad, though he never complained, I know it was hard. Two people viewing the same circumstance completely differently all because of perception. Poor children do not know they are poor until someone tells them they are. We become discontent when Unforeseen Circumstances cause a lifestyle change that the world tells us we should be discontent with.
Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.