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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fighting Discontent: Complaining, Be GONE!

I write off and on about contentment because the lack of it irritates me in others so frequently and there's no better fuel for a writer's fire than negative traits in others!  (Dear friends of mine, please know, I don't judge you or see discontent in your life...)

I just had to field a comment that went like this, "Well, it does seem that you could use more space in your kitchen."  This, after I didn't have a good answer for "Where do I put this?"  These types of comments drive me nuts.  They require composure and a tight lip.  We went through a long process of looking for a house that would meet our needs - NEEDS - mind you - not wants.  And yet I know full well that our needs would be met in a house half this size or with a miniscule kitchen - because what we need and what we think we need are really two different things.  But I digress.  My response (cool, calm and collected, by the way - congratulations welcome in the comment section), went like this: "This kitchen is more than adequate.  It merely lacks order.  I lack organizational skills which is why I don't have a particular place for this basket.  If I ordered my kitchen well, I would know where to put it."  And I was told how having more space is better and all the reasons why.  As if I need convincing!  This was when I started to get frustrated.  Because discontent is always possible even if you have no-one there trying to advertise it to you.  It made the battle all the harder because I am determined to be grateful, content and joyful and appreciative of the many comforts and provisions that God has supplied - going above and beyond my needs to even my wants.  I am not entitled to these.  No one had better tell me I really 'need' this or that.  Scripture tells me that with food and covering I'll be content and so that's what I shoot for.

The outward sign of discontent is complaining.  Complaining comes in many forms.  Not merely whining which is so unattractive in our kids.  It comes in comparing ourselves to others.  It comes in coveting others stuff, strengths and situation.  It comes in dwelling on how to make things different/better - and striving towards that with a zealousness that borders on obsession.  And yet improving our lives is not a bad endeavour.  Simplicity is good insofar as it lends itself to a greater portion of our lives being devoted to what really matters.  And it isn't the stuff we tend to orient ourselves around that really matters.

I answered that the answer to logistics can be more space, but often it is that the answer is more order.  I lack order and so I suffer space issues.  It is not the stuff's fault.  It is not the space's fault (for not being more spacious).  It is my fault and I will take responsibility for my over-cluttered space and personality.  At the root of my clutteriness however, I see a glaring fault - and that is discontent.

Why do I have no place to put this basket?
Because I haven't allotted it a spot.
Why has it not got a spot?
  Because I have put too many things in my kitchen.
Why are there too many things in my kitchen?
Because I lack the discipline of simplicity.
Why do I lack the discipline of simplicity?
Because there is niggling discontent in my spirit that whispers the lie that, "I need that!  I could use that!  I can have that and not have things overwhelm me by their presence!"
These are truly lies.  I am overwhelmed by too much stuff.  And I need to work towards simplicity and contentment.  It is no wonder discontent irks me in others.  Because it irks me in myself.  It makes me cranky.  It makes me downcast.  It steals my joy.  Therefore I want to banish discontent in myself and in those around me.  Since I can't control others I'll just have to be content to banish it in myself.

 (As for the others, they can read my blog and learn from my ongoing struggle!)

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