Words of Hope: Contentment Mindset

When I think about the many things Dad taught me, contentment is one of the most crucial. Contentment is the state of living where we are peaceful and, for the moment, happy. We live thinking well of ourselves and others. Our thoughts are hopeful and calm. Most of us fluctuate between the states of stress/effort and contentment. When life seems good, we are content. We live in relative thankfulness and satisfaction.

However, can we learn to live in contentment even when life is difficult, especially when life is hard? Dad wanted to learn to live in contentment even with stage four cancer. He aspired to this every day, and it was a hard-fought battle for him. Dad greatly admired what the Apostle Paul said when he wrote, “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 everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians – 4: 12b-13 New International Version

Contentment used to be linked in my mind to complacency; however Webster defines complacency as “self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” Clearly, complacency is not an admirable quality. On the other hand, contentment comes from the Greek meaning self-sufficient or independent. Where do I need to be self-sufficient and independent? I need independence from my need for comfort and my co-dependency on things or people to bring me a feeling of peace or joy. Contentment for me lives in the daily decision to live in freedom from anxiety, want, or need. When I am full of contentment, the primal struggles that gnaw at my spirit are silenced, and the drudgery of life is replaced with peace.

I watched Dad daily make an intentional choice of a contentment mindset. He wanted his focus to be grateful to God regardless of the external circumstances. Dad returned again and again to Psalm 23. He wanted this to be his state of mind.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies: Thou anoints my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. – Psalm 23