The Secret of Being Content

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… I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.     Philippians 4:12-13

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Just a small example of how “stocked” the old mini-van is!

     When my husband’s car wouldn’t pass inspection, we got a new mini-van.  My husband was kind enough to say he’d drive the old beat up van, and let me have the shiny new one.  Although I was grateful, I was also resisting driving the new one.  It took me a while to figure out why.  Eventually, I realized it’s because the new one is bare bones and outside of my comfort zone.
     The old mini-van is completely stocked with wipes, tissues, paper towels, snacks, backup clothes, plastic utensils, toys and books for distraction, you name it.  I started this system back when my kids were babies.  Babies and toddlers aren’t very good at waiting.  So not only was my van stocked to the hilt, most of it was within arms reach.  In a split second, I could pass my kids whatever they needed with one hand, while still driving with the other.  I can’t tell you how many melt downs I avoided because of this system.  Since it worked so well in the early years, I’ve kept the same system ever since.  As they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
     But getting a new vehicle that I didn’t have time to stock, changed the playing field.  Suddenly I had three kids in a van with no snacks to access when they were hungry.  Then I found myself lost, driving up and down back roads, looking for Mason’s DI coach’s house because the new van doesn’t have a GPS system.  Worst of all, my kids were bickering because they had no toys, books or magazines to occupy them.  I try to teach my kids to be grateful not greedy, but here I was being so dissatisfied with a brand new car!  What was wrong with me?  

     But with three kids to taxi around to places, not only was there no time to stock the van, there was no time to think about the problem either.  Days slipped into weeks.  Slowly my perspective was changing.  I started to see the benefit of not having everything we needed at my fingertips.  In reality, most of our “needs” weren’t real needs at all.  They were conveniences.  I realized my old ways worked for when my kids were little, but there are new lessons to be taught now that they’re older.
     Lesson #1:  It’s okay, and actually quite necessary, to learn to wait for things.  There are starving children in Africa.  I think my kids can handle being hungry for the 12 minutes it takes to get from school to home.  In fact, they need to learn to be hungry without complaining about it to develop an empathy for those who really do go hungry on a daily basis.
     Lesson #2:  It’s okay to have to call the DI coach and ask her for directions to her house.  In this crazy, independent culture we live in, it creates community to have to lean on each other and admit we don’t know our way.  If my kids don’t see me admit when I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m growing, they’ll grow up thinking it’s a weakness for them to ask for help.
     Lesson #3:  It’s okay to get bored in the car, or anywhere else, for that matter.  My kids have become so dependent on electronics, toys, books and magazines for entertainment, that they’re losing their gift of imagination.  I want my kids to stare out the window, let their minds wander, and see where that takes them.  I want them to take in all of God’s beauty, find animal shapes in the clouds, and then get lost in them.  I’m no scientist with hard fast data, but I have a strong feeling that a sense of wonder and awe not only revives the soul, but it expands the mind as well.
     I’ve decided that even when I do have the time, I am not going to stock the new van (well maybe just a box of tissues for runny noses…).  I am so grateful to my husband for getting us a new mini-van, but more so, I am grateful to God for gifting me with this new outlook and phase in our lives.  Although I would love my kids to be successful in whatever profession they choose, the reality is, they will most likely have “times of plenty and times of need.”  But if I can teach my kids to stay connected to God, He will always show them the good in every situation.  Only then will they truly possess “the secret of being content.”
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