The Fine Art of Contentment


Welcome back to Faith Friday again!

I want to share a message with you that I shared at the Outer Banks Tiny House Festival last weekend.

I want to talk to you about a lie I’ve been telling myself.  That lie is if you work hard, you will achieve success and then you’ll get contentment. One leads to the other which leads to the other. That is a lie I’ve been telling myself.

Interestingly enough, some people have studied this and they discovered that if you work from a place of contentment first (and that is a thing) you will be 37% more efficient and creative. I’ll take that 37%, what about you? Did you know that you can start from contentment and you can work and achieve from contentment instead of chasing contentment?

Photo Jun 14, 4 08 11 PMWe talk about the pursuit of happiness.  I can talk about the pursuit of a lemon, but I don’t need to – because I have a lemon. I can talk about the pursuit of an apple, but I don’t need to  – because I have an apple. See where I’m going with this? We can talk about the pursuit of happiness, but the only thing we are doing is proving to ourselves that we’re not happy today. You don’t pursue something you already have. If you’re content, you’re not in pursuit of anything.

There are two key skills to living in contentment

LETTING GO

You start small with physical things and then you get to an intermediate level which are soul things and then you develop into spiritual level letting go. What’s true in the physical realm is true in the spiritual realm. So let me give you an example.

  • So I looked down the other day, my hand, I was holding an ugly fork. What?  No!  Let it go! It went directly into the donation box.  That was a super easy kind of letting go.
  • I had a food processor, I researched and bought the best one, cost me $400 and we didn’t even use it much in the restaurant.  And then I didn’t use it for the next five years either. I was having trouble letting go. Number one, I spent a lot of money on it. Number two, I might need it someday.  I recently donated it to our sweet little Mennonite church and last weekend they used that food processor to create cole slaw for 300 people!  Yay for letting go!
  • Recently we also let go of the piano that I grew up playing.  For years, that was my way of praying.  To sit at the keys and simply play. Naturally the instrument means something to me.  It also means something to the guy we’re giving it to. He is a recording artist and an amazing talent. It’s exactly the right place for my old piano. And again, this is developing the skill of letting go.

What if I let go of something on a soul level like:

  • self neglect or
  • materialism or
  • self limiting beliefs. That’s a big one, right?

Photo Jun 14, 4 40 22 PMSo let’s take this into the spiritual realm. What if I let go of:

  • comparison and
  • judgment and
  • fear and
  • bitterness?

If I didn’t have those things in my life, do you think maybe there’d be a little bit more room for contentment? Yeah, big time!

HOLDING ON

There’s another skill that’s really important to contentment and that’s what I choose to hold on to.

  • I hold onto my ring, my wedding ring. This is a symbol to me of the marriage I have with this handsome, brilliant husband of mine who I have found late in life and who’s been so kind to me that he’s changed my world.
  • I hold on to the piano that my husband gave me for Christmas one year. It is a Steinway Concert Grand. And let me tell you, that is a treasure to me. He gave me a personal and beautiful gift!
  • I recently went to an auction house and saw a room size silk Persian rug. It’s the sort of rug that would take a one woman three to five years to create. And I really respect that kind of craftsmanship.  I love oriental rugs.  I was able to get that rug for way below what it’s worth. There were no rug dealers in the room to make the price go up where it should have been. So I walked home with an amazing treasure. Oriental rugs are women’s work. I don’t know if you knew that or not, but I respect the craftsmanship represented there.
  • I also treasure the books that my friends have written. Many of them have a little note written in the front with their signature addressing the book to me and I respect and honor what it takes to write a book so those are treasures to me.

Well, what about on a soul level? I hold on to:

  • my values.
  • I hold one to my focus and that’s sometimes pretty hard because I’ve got that whole ADD thing going on.
  • I hold onto my husband, my dog, and my family because they mean the world to me.

Photo Jun 14, 4 40 56 PMWell, let’s take this to a spiritual realm.  Here are three things I hold on to for all I’m worth:

  • gratitude,
  • generosity, and
  • gentleness.

You know, if I am grateful for my life and for the things in my life and the people and all of the aspects of my life, I won’t actually have space in here for things like comparison, judgment, fear and bitterness. That’s just how it works. It’s amazing and gratitude is one of those things that leads to contentment.

Generosity is the same sort of thing. The more I hold on to generosity, the more I can meet needs around me instead of being selfish and self focused.

Gentleness is amazing, especially in a culture where compassion has gone out of style. Gentleness and compassion are absolutely world changing things to hold onto for all we are worth.


If I hold onto this apple for all I’m worth, it naturally means I’m going to lose my grip on that lemon. You can’t hold on to gratitude and generosity in gentleness for all your worth and still keep some of that other stuff. It’s just not going to work.  And that’s good news.

There is a verse that has been on a loop in my spirit lately:

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And this is a beautiful thing because we all have mindsets that need renewing. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Here is a different translation:

“Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what God wants from you and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings out the best in us, developed, well-formed maturity in us.” (Romans 12: 2 MSG)

Spiritual maturity is a place of gentleness, gratitude, and generosity.

Photo Jun 14, 4 46 41 PMWhat are you holding on to?

Are the things you are holding on to worthy of their place in your life?  You can see what those things are by looking at your bank account.  When you find what you want to hold on to, then you simply let go of the rest.

These are the keys to contentment.

Thank you so much for reading. I really appreciate it.

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