Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Piecing Together Contentment

On my good days I wake up with a grateful heart, pondering my rich legacy. Mom gave me a love for books and music, Dad a love for work and quality furniture, Grandmother a love of fine art, Nana a love of flowers and hospitality. From all sides I learned to love God, love family, and to love life.

With these gifts and so many more, I am content. On my good days.

Other days, not so much. On those days discontentment sneaks in with her wicked companions of jealousy and selfishness. That's when I throw (or used to throw) a royal pity party, grumbling over my lack of family heirlooms and other sacrifices related to living this cross-cultural life.

After twenty years of struggle, (at least I think) I have finally overcome this very nasty habit of wishing I lived in the U.S. so my house could be filled with antiques and loving reminders of my grandmothers. I am truly happy for my siblings who all have lovely things to stir happy memories.

Sometimes I look at the small pieces I received from my grandmothers' estates, and pray that nothing happens to them. However one day I returned home to find that an overly zealous maid had thrown a priceless pre-Civil War era family quilt into the washing machine, shredding it beyond repair. That was a liberating moment for me.

What I discovered was that losing my precious quilt did not remove a single happy memory of my grandmother. The bottom line is that I much prefer memories to things. When I want to see tangible objects that trigger memories, I can visit my mom and siblings in Texas.

However, my own children will have little of monetary value to fight over when I am gone. Hopefully I will have succeeded in passing down to my children the heritage I cannot deny having received in full: a love of God, a love of family, and a love of life itself. This past week my youngest son gave his heart and life to Jesus. The one gift I couldn't give was finally received. With that I am abundantly content. Until...

Until I consider my future grandchildren, and how they will likely be scattered all over the globe, sharing very few memories together with me. That does make me sad. My prayer is that at least they will inherit the greatest gift of adoption and salvation from their true Father. Then I would be happy….

IRL*Contentment is such an illusive possession.


  1. This is a lovely post, and a good reminder to be thankful for the rich heritage we have in Christ. I can identify with your feelings about family heirlooms. I have very few, and I do see them in my brothers' homes when we visit.

  2. Thank you for sharing your heart (and your struggles). I'm only about 6 years in - give or take a few support raising years - and I struggle with contentment (and the wishing, and the coveting, and the pitying) much more than I like to admit. One thing I'm trying to do, knowing I can't take it all with me (and wouldn't want to when I allow myself a true moment of reflection to really admit that), is whether here or over there, find small pieces of those places, the kind of pieces that fit into suitcases or in the mail, as reminders of where we came from, where we are, and where we're going. On either side of the ocean then, we still have bits of who we are that we can touch and feel and show to our children.

  3. Coveting? Ouch. That's the real underlying sin, isn't it? I do tell new missionaries coming down to try to bring a few lovely items that are sentimental and not necessarily functional. That does a lot to make a house a home, even a temporary one.

    If we ever had to leave here for good, I would pack an entire suitcase of Mexico things that I think my kids would enjoy someday.

  4. Getting over the "I want to live in america." thought has been a hard one to overcome for me. And, really letting go of those covetous thoughts about my friends left behind, too. I think we often "play with" escape plans in our minds to fight the dis-contentment, instead of taking it to Father God. Or, at least, I have. I am asking God to teach me to run into Him, my Only Good escape plan, my only real "home". But, it is a journey and a hilly learning curve, isn't it?!

  5. Hilly learning curve is exactly what it is. My fear in being honest is that I might discourage some of you with the fact that it took over 20 years for me to overcome this particular battle. My prayer is that some of you will learn more quickly than I do.

    Sometimes identifying the problem is the first step to recovery. :) (Acknowledging sin leads to repentance and then freedom.)

    We can never remind ourselves enough that our true home is in heaven. I like that visual image of God being our escape plan. There is an end in sight.


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