This is one of my favorite spots at a nearby park. Today, I sat here looking out at the still water, pondering life, as I have many times. I was thinking about gratitude (or my lack thereof). Our church has been teaching a miniseries about contentment. Learning to be thankful for what we have, in whatever state we're in. That means being content wherever you are in life right now, poor or rich, employed or unemployed, married or single, in a house or in an apartment, successful or unsuccessful.
Contentment isn't always easy for me. I'm usually looking ahead to the "next thing." Once I reach an accomplishment or gain what I was after, it's great for a while, but then I wonder, what's next?
With social media - Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest - it's easier than ever to look at other people and think, why don't I have that house/job/talent/family/_________? Pretty soon we start comparing our lives and in creeps discontentment.
In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul (in prison) talks about learning to be content: "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
I got a speeding ticket this weekend. Yes, that's right. The only other speeding ticket I ever got was over 6 years ago. Once I got over the annoyance that I got a ticket (even though I was going faster than I should have been), it made me think. What's the point of a speeding ticket? To remind you to drive slower and follow the speed limit. Why? Because it's ultimately for your safety, and the safety of others. It was a tangible (and expensive) reminder to me to S-L-O-W down. Both on the road and in life.
If I keep wishing away the here and now, speeding ahead to the "next thing", I'll miss the wonderful life that's right in front of me. I'm guilty of falling into the trap of thinking "if I only had this or that, I'd be happy". Not so. Learning to be satisfied and content with what God has already abundantly blessed me with is the key. And I needed to be reminded of that.
I like what Liz wrote about the Ugly Side of Comparison. Following her lead, I'm going to share a brief gratitude list of my own. I encourage you to make your own list too!
First and foremost, I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the unmatchable, undeserved gift of salvation and eternal life. Thank you Lord!
I have a husband who loves me unconditionally, treats me like a queen and makes me laugh. 8 years of marriage later, and he still looks at me the same way with those amazing blue eyes, even though I don't deserve him.
I have a pretty sweet job, doing what I went to college for - and it pays the bills.
We live in a house that we picked out together and continue to make our own.
I have very good credit.
I have two cats that like to sit on my lap, snuggle and greet me whenever I come home. It makes cleaning up after them worth it (for the most part).
I live in the United States of America.
I have good health, the ability to travel and enjoy life on a daily basis.
I have a variety of hobbies and talents that I enjoy.
I am a fashionista and I have good hair (most days).
I have friends and family.
This is by no means an extensive list, or intended to come across as "bragging". I think it's good to take a close look at what we have to be thankful for on a regular basis. I call this my gratitude check. Feel free to do the same. God is good. All the time.