It has been brought to my attention (mostly by God) that I have a significant issued with contentment.
There are two types of contentment, and it is probably worth recognizing the difference up front. The first kind - the good kind - is the contentment that involves who we are and the activities we do. In this sense we should also seek to be discontent with ourselves and our activities, always seeking to make ourselves better.
The second kind - of which I am writing today - relates to the financial and physical things of our life. This is the discontent that is never quite happy with what we have or where we are or the things in them. There is always an underlying sense of "I need" that tinges our thoughts and our conversations, our dreams and our planning. We wake to find that there is always something not quite right in our immediate circle of life; we go to sleep with the sense that there is something outstanding which prevents us from truly enjoying our life.
God is pretty clear about contentment in the New Testament: "Keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have" says the writer of Hebrews in 13:5. And the Apostle Paul told Timothy "There is great gain in godliness with contentment. For we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content." (First Timothy 5:6-8). The life of the Christian is to be about other things and focused on other things besides the acquisition of material goods, or even the acquisition of the perfect life ("Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." - Christ, Matthew 6:33).
But sadly, I am not.
Discontent has done nothing good in my life, to be sure. It has driven me from one house to another, one job to another, even one career to another - all of which seemed to end rather poorly, on the whole. My life now finds itself filled with stacks and boxes and my first impulse is to procure more, not pare down what I have.
If unchecked, of course, this leads to nothing but piles of stuff and the mountains of debt to go with it, as well as every hallmark of the unsatisfied existence: the profound "midlife crisis" that we all chuckle about but is all too real, in which even more discontent arises and even greater harm can ensue.
I have to start dealing in realities.
The realities are this: based on my age and experience, my ability to change career fields or really even move up a great deal more in my current one is not there. Thus, my lifestyle is not going to significantly financially (and therefore physically change) - and honestly, I am probably two jobs out from no longer really being employable in my field. We are also entering a period of transition, as within 10 years the house and home we have established will be radically different with the departure of Na Clann to start lives of their own.
The reality: The Blockbuster Novel is not there. The Meteoric Rise to Head of Anything is not there. The Empire that would accompany such is not coming. The Great Leader role, sadly, has been taken by others. The only thing that is there is patient gains in small increments not disturbed by continued random flailing to find the next biggest thing.
There is plenty for me to be discontent about. But they are all internal to me, not external.
Time to embrace being content with what I have.