Monday, March 23, 2009

Dis/content

Words will fail me to articulate this thought, but I'm going to try...

One of the virtues that I aspire to most is contentment (see my simple life and inventory control). I want to be thankful for what I have, not always longing for more time, clothes, space, money. I work at and pray for contentment in my selfish self and covetous kids on a daily basis. It's one of the few things I do every day, actually!

And yet I find myself thwarted, or at least torn, by the presence of discontentment. No, not just that I want "more", but that in some situations, an attitude of discontent seems to be a powerful necessity. Maybe a better word for it is "ambition".

Discontent - or ambition - is a powerful driving force. It drives entrepreneurs to make something better, doctors to find a cure, educators to teach a new generation in a different way. Ambition for a better job in five years drives me to go above and beyond at work now. I dream about teaching in third world countries, or writing a book about marriage and more, or working on education reform in America. I will not come close to any of those if I sit here contentedly on my butt.

I admire those who live content with their home, family, and job. But I also admire those who have worked tirelessly for reform in medicine, education, even church - never content to settle for the status quo.

How do I go about pursuing contentment, and yet act on my ambitions at the same time?

What's the balance???

(Those aren't rhetorical questions - I really want answers!)

5 comments:

Don said...

I too was once a busy young parent... oh yeah... you were there. I wrestled for several years with the internal conflict until I found this balance: "I enjoy moving forward towards my goals at a sustainable pace." The solution was two-fold: clear goals and sustainable pace. That's what's worked for me. Maybe it will be useful you.

dina said...

Really like this one! And I like your title, getting a little creative aren't we?! ;o)

Hmm, wish I had the answers. I like what your dad says, having a goal but working at a sustainable pace. I have dreams but sometimes the fun is in seeing how God unfolds the opportunities before us instead of us trying to hammer out exactly how its supposed to be.

Daniel, Jenn, Judah, and Aidan said...

hmmm! i too struggle with this same thing!
im unsure of the balance also but, it seems as if little by little we can work on finding it.
everyday, as your dad said, having goals and working towards them, little by little, can get us to where we want to be.

we can go little by little together! :)

Don said...

A 21 year old fellow blogger (senior in college in Florida) recently wrote: "Remaining reasonable is always important though, because we're all on the same boat called life here, but with unreasonableness (or let's go with discontent) comes the drive to improve rather than sit around and accept things the way they are."

Great minds think alike.

She's at

http://itsallgood618.blogspot.com/

And you might like my recent post on a true dis/content named Elisabeth Blackwell. She changed the world, but it took decades, dreams, and dedication... even in the face of disappointment.

More later...

It's All Good said...

your dad sent me your way, and I totally agree with you! I have told myself so many times how I envy people who are content (my culture is very...close minded, which makes me even more discontent, I try to be turquoise in a world of black) I wish I had the answer to your question, but unfortunately I have to answer it for myself first....

Great blog, keep it up!