I don’t remember the specifics. I can’t recall the sort of day that was in it, the lead up or the cool down. All I have are these little memories, a moment of perfect peace.
A walk through the park.
Sitting by the sea, watching the dog dodge kids and waves.
In the city with my husband, crossing alleys and streets.
And at least once in a loud and dirty car, driving across the country.
I remember the feeling—putting a name to it, making sure I said it aloud (for testimonial evidence in future marital squabbles):
Sometimes I’m surprised I can’t actually remember the details. I’m sure our life was swirling in chaos and ambiguity, as it usually does. I know for a fact we’ve never reached any sort of perfection: not in marriage, not in ministry, and certainly not in childrearing. And I confess it doesn’t happen as much as it should. I tend not to pay careful attention, to be distracted by any number of things past, present or future.
We should’ve done that earlier, I’ll nag. I forgot to send school money, I’ll suddenly remember. Why is everyone buying houses when we’re just grasping at straws just to hold onto ours, I’ll wonder. When will this [fill-in-the-blank-big-ministry-dream-and-potential-mess] get off the ground, we’ll fret. The big things (and the little) keep me upended, restless, discontent.
And it’s contagious.
Discontent starts with a seed of doubt, blossoms into fear, and wraps vines of distrust around everyone it touches. And more often than not, it starts with me.
Never mind being content in all things, can’t I settle for contentment in some things? Any old thing? Even just one thing?
There’s a song I used to sing, back in the support raising phases, before (and then after) we moved abroad, when I let music do the praying for me. It was a Psalm I didn’t fully understand until I weaned my own babies and felt their fulfilled bellies lie quietly next to mine. They had something I was only beginning to grasp, a concept I still struggle with, a spirit I still long for:
My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content. (Psalm 131:1-2)
I am haughty and proud and covetous and wild. I tend to concern myself with matters too big and wonderful and scary and great – much too great – for me to handle on my own.
But then a greater gift of grace is given me, too. It’s the only way I know how to go on, the only way I know how to find – and hold on to – those little moments. Just one thing:
“Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore,” (Psalm 131:3).
That’s the only specific that matters.
What’s your one thing? Your song, your Psalm, your prayer for contentment?
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