A conversation with a life-long friend was the impetus for my blog post this morning. We were discussing the topic of contentment. Interestingly, in the last 24-hours, we’d both struggled with the idea that discontentment with current circumstances is wrong. Or rather, as good Christians (let’s be honest, what does that even mean!) we should momentarily allow ourselves to feel a touch of sadness (anger, discouragement, frustration…you fill in the blank) and then quickly pick ourselves up by our britches, and with graciousness simply move on in the blink of an eye. I mean, honestly, if we’re supposed to be clothed in armor (Eph. 6:8-10), aren’t we impenetrable to things that might hurt us?!
I happen to love action movies (I promise I didn’t just veer off on some random bunny trail…stick with me). I’ve seen Gladiator and Braveheart and 300 (multiple times). Those guys NEVER walk away from a battle without some type of bloody memento, despite the massive amount of metal covering the most vulnerable parts of their human bodies. Which got me thinking – armor is designed to protect our most susceptible organs. Those verses in Ephesians don’t describe the Iron Man suit; they illustrate a set of protective coverings that guard our most precious assets – our heart (righteousness & love), our feet (endurance), and our head (the ability to think and process information). I realize that we are also given a shield, which is used to protect the body as a whole, but under the harshest of attacks, even this piece of armor cannot shelter the entire body from harm. And so, at any given moment we are vulnerable, vulnerable to loneliness, fear, failure, discouragement, and even discontentment.
Interestingly enough, the definitions I reviewed for the word content all include a phrase like this; to be adequately happy, to be reasonably happy, to be willing to accept. There is no definition (that I found) that describes contentment as including a complete absence of unpleasant emotions. Words like “reasonably,” “adequately,” and “willingness,” to me, indicate a process. If I am content in this moment, I am working towards total fulfillment in Christ. And with that endeavor comes both moments of joy and sorrow.
II Corinthians 4:8-10
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
So, I will proceed on this journey properly clad in my suit of armor yet radically accepting (oh…a topic for another post!) that injury is still fully possible and quite likely. I will have moments where my movements towards happiness joy are slower going than others, but I am committed to placing one foot in front of the other and keeping my eyes fixed on the ultimate goal.