I have lots of regrets, but life would have been boring without them. God got me through, so I could eventually have peace. J
I chuckled as I read J’s email and decided you might also need a good laugh and a positive outlook regarding acknowledging and dumping painful regrets. Let them go. Don’t be surprised when new regrets pop up. But good news! We have the option of intentionally choosing positive contentment.
Even though we’ve discussed subjects all around contentment, like joy, happiness, purpose, etc. the uniqueness of contentment deserves special examination along with the nuts and bolts of fulfillment. Hopefully, those who wrestle with various levels of grieving will be open to painful reminders and accept new challenges and encouragement in reestablishing contentment and a sense of wellbeing.
New World Dictionary on Contentment: The state, quality or fact of being contented. Satisfying; related to content (that which fills a vessel). Happy enough with what one has or is: not desiring something more or different. 2. willing asBritish-affirmation vote. 3 Pleased to make content. Contented having or showing no desire for something more or different. First Known Use of contentment 15th century.
Another definition: A purposeful act. Synonyms are: adequacy, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, gratification, pleasure, satisfaction. Hopefully, other searching-for-contentment words like wonderings, loneliness, fear, apprehension, disappointment, acceptance, peace, integrity, purpose, will strike a match and make sense to you.
Even though some speakers and writers refer to feelings/emotions of contentment, those feelings and emotions stem from decisions made and kept involving purposeful acts. A sense of wellbeing for the most part involves personal acceptance of changing relationships, circumstances, possessions, physical needs and responsibilities which are not planned but merely happen to us temporarily uprooting our level of contentment —loss of mate, parent, close friend, financial loss, medical problems and our shared pandemic losses resembling feelings of grief and regret which threaten security.
Jim and I shared and contributed to each other’s sense of physical, social and spiritual wellbeing. After Jim passed, like many others who experience single-again status, my secure sense of well-being was rattled and wobbly and in need of reinforcement.
We shared so intimately that I had to discover who I was apart from Jim. We made all decisions together. I had to willingly embrace ‘solo-contentment’. Being split apart reminded me how a divided plant wilts and quits blooming while it becomes acclimated to new soil in a smaller pot. In due time blooming reoccurs.
Simply put, contentment hinges on our values, attitude and decisions. Normally, we experience contentment in specified areas, but not necessarily over all. Just like dealing with regrets, acknowledge the problems and find ways to adjust or fix them.
Contentment with who we are or have become with relationships, responsibilities and purposes is the ground floor in every person’s life. If we do not like ourselves, we are unlikely to appreciate others. Discovering and appreciating our unique design (personalities) and those especially opposite from us is the foundation for achieving contentment in other areas, specifically those involving pleasurable purposes.
Children also need a sense of wellbeing—contentment--but they are recipients and dependent on parents and other adults to provide what they need. Bickering in the home threatens their security and is one of the major disruptors of contentment. Children’s contentment depends on having good self-esteem, respect and being appreciated for who they are by God’s design and what they are learning to do. Jim’s and my book Coaching Kids (Smythe & Helwys) addresses respect, self-esteem, communication and other important guidelines. Parents naturally bear the lion’s share of responsibility but since teachers contribute significantly to students’ emotional security, I chatted with a retired elementary teacher-friend for her wisdom on this subject.
“Teachers need to have routine, patience and respect for each child. My students not only counted on and expected a certain routine but each one contributed to jobs within the classroom to keep it running smoothly--self-sufficient classrooms. We had a well-oiled machine”, she added proudly. “Because I had the ability to relate, teach, understand and maintain routine I was assigned children who were hard to manage or needed extra help. and the fact that I rarely strayed from doing everything in order—the kids knowing what had been planned that they could anticipate created security and a sense of contentment”.
Adults need the same security and consistency as children. After one’s support system has been disrupted by death or other departure, he or she has to revamp their support system accordingly to retain/replace, and sustain a sense of comfortable contentment. Filling that void requires an intentional pursuit involving patience, time and wisdom in decision-making. Realignment of contentment requires creativity, courage, confidence, making new friends and possibly discovering new purposes.
When one of my children calls and asks if I need anything or help, most often my response is “I’m good” --short for ‘I am content’. God created each of us with resilience to recover from all kinds of set-backs. Every day is a new venture, offering contentment, purpose and peace.
When I mentioned my blog title of Contentment to brother John, he said “My contentment story began when at 17 I sensed that all was not well with me; that I had some serious adjustments to make. I invited Christ into my life and I’ve had a deep sense of joy and peace which has been unending to this day no matter what problems have occurred.” John is 92. Hearing your story about reaching the goal of contentment would be a treat. firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul said…I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phil 4:11,12, 13 NIV.
Paul, who had many troubles, had to learn to be content. He made a definite decision—a purposeful act.
The author of Hebrews said: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. Heb. 13:5.
A devotional quoting Jaroslav Perlikan (a preeminent Yale authority of Christian history) fascinated me this Easter morning: “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not—nothing else matters.”
Christ has indeed been raised from the dead… I Cor. 15:20 (NIV)
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isa. 26:3
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the expansive hope of Jesus’ resurrection and how the relationship with him and his never-ending love changes everything by giving us security, peace, joy and purpose.