I moved to Indiana in 1985. For many years, I hailed from Montana moving to Indiana only when I married. I remember many times looking longingly at other places to live. We would dream of settling in some more romantic space with opportunity, scenery and, to be honest, a starting over.
It certainly wasn’t that Indiana was a bad place to live. And it wasn’t that we really wanted to start over. It just seemed like the “easy” thing to do. There were aspects of our chosen way of living we wanted to change. These changes required us to be courageous, to speak up for what we believed, to swim against the current. That was difficult. If we moved, the changes would be easy to make; we would be starting over.
Turns out, we didn’t move. We took the courageous route, faced our fears and made the necessary lifestyle changes. It meant deep personal work, disappointing others, creating new community. It took many years before I called Indiana home.
Sunday evening as we returned from a long weekend filled with friends, family and ministry, I took time to appreciate my surroundings. I was grateful for the difficult journey we traveled, the hard personal work we did to make this our home. I rejoiced that my heart is content and at peace.
Then I thought of all those who are not in a place of contentment. It might be a job that is difficult, a lifestyle that needs revamping, a neighborhood that is challenging. I remembered those days and I wondered what I would say to that person if they asked me.
I would say this: do the hard work. Learn to be content in every situation. It doesn’t matter where you live or what job you have, you always bring yourself along. And usually, that is where the unrest originates. Learn to be at peace with yourself and the rest will fall into place.
Paul says it a little differently than I do, but it all fleshes out the same.
11Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.Philippians 4:11-13
Sure Paul was talking specifically about having his physical needs met. But I believe it applies as well to contentment in any area of life. Can you learn to be content in the work the Lord provides? Can you give it your best, and leave the rest to Him? Consider the last few years of your life — are they marked with contentment or discontent? Do you tend to complain or to cheer?
Remember — no matter where you go, you bring yourself along! Perhaps now is the time to do the hard inner work of soul searching. You might just find you’re in the best place after all!