‘I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.’ (Philippians 4:11)
In a continuation of the art of contentment, the second half of this mini-theme is centred on the extraordinary ordinary. How do we find rest in a world of rush?
Business as usual
I think wired into our culture is the chasing after the ‘Next Big Thing’. We live our lives always pushing forward, ecstatic for what’s to come, whether it’s the weekend, the summer or the next step in life. Somehow, whether it’s work or relationships, the tendency is to always believe the grass is greener on the other side. Just a little more, then I’ll be happy. Push further, then I’ll be content. The running line of our culture is that more is always more.
Our whole yearly calendar is centred on big events, like Christmas, Easter or Valentine’s Day. As soon as Halloween is over, up come the Christmas decorations. Never mind that we’ve only just finished October. Or post-Christmas, when the January blues are a very real reality, we’re bombarded with Spring sales and before too long, love is in the air for February 14th. Commercial industries use this cultural outlook to profit season to season.
The impact of social media also plays a part. We see the glamorous side to anyone and everyone’s lives, from relationships to travels, self-image to experiences. Comparison has never been easier. Our phones have become ‘envy application devices’ that we carry with us 24/7. We see the end result: the wedding day, the brilliant job offers, the exotic holiday and the snaps before a night out. But in turn, we forget the processes leading up to those points.
A new perspective
I’m currently volunteering at The A21 Campaign, a global anti-human trafficking organisation. I absolutely love it and I’ve learned crazy amounts. But that doesn’t mean that the work isn’t sometimes boring or mundane. Some days look like office admin: emails, meetings, letter-writing and drafting out documents. Not necessarily my cup of tea. Yet when you take a different perspective that actually everything you do is for the greater cause, it changes your whole mindset. Work no longer becomes a chore but something to enjoy.
It’s great to be optimistic about the future’ to want to grasp life in all of its fullness. But sometimes I think we can get so caught up in looking towards the next big thing, we lose the beauty in the everyday mundane. The act of slowing down to appreciate, and practice gratitude and rest. This is how we find real contentment.
So many of us want to do something incredible with our lives – write a bestselling novel, climb the career ladder, preach to the masses, have influence within Government etc. We should be aspiring for great things. But if we get too consumed by achieving the big stuff, we lose the discipline and joy of the small. We are a generation who wants to leave a positive legacy and for our names and our work to be remembered. But when I think of the person who has influenced my life the most, I immediately think of my Grandma. She wasn’t famous and didn’t have a massive following. She didn’t radically change the world, but she changed my life in millions of ways. And it was because she was a constant presence – a constant presence of strength, joy and confidence. She truly invested into me, and this is her legacy.
So perhaps in our call to live counter-culturally, it comes down to this; pursuing the everyday, ordinary moments in a world of more to craft real contentment in our lives.
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