Since childhood, I’ve had the wanderlust. It’s not because I’m a romantic or suffering from serial boredom – it’s just a habit. Growing up, we never lived in one place longer than four years, but mostly three years or less. I never dreaded moving. On the contrary – moving those many times taught me how to be content regardless of where we lived.
My favorite move was from Oklahoma to Santa Monica, California, and while we were only there a year, it was eye opening and life changing. We arrived at our new home for the second half of fifth grade, where I was assigned to a double desk with a Hispanic boy named Hector who had a very foul mouth. I had never known an Hispanic person, and had never heard anyone swear the way he did. But we became friends. Our new school had an orchestra and I learned to play the cello. There were trailers outside for optional religious education, which I signed up for because it got me out of class twice a week. My new best friend’s family came to the US on one of the last ten planes out of Cuba after the revolution when Cuba allied itself with the Soviet Union. My family frequented the Venice beach where we loved the big carousel on the pier and body surfing in the ocean. I saw Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 on the Tomorrowland stage at Disneyland and heard him sing “ABC”, amongst other soon-to-be hits. We played all over the neighborhood, riding bikes barefoot and told everyone we were related to Buddy from a tv show where the fictional “Buddy” shared our last name. I walked six blocks to a ballet studio for lessons which miraculously cured my flat feet and marked the end of years of corrective shoes. Hallelujah. A neighborhood friend invited me to their property in northern California for a three week stay over the summer. Her family set up tents and canopies and a cooking space and we settled in, riding to the lake everyday with our legs dangling out over the tailgate on their station wagon while simultaneously hanging on for dear life. A week into our stay, my friend’s father had an episode of some sort and started throwing around the pots and pans, clearing the tabletop of everything on it in one fell swoop. Lisa and I went directly to our tents while her mom (an RN) jumped him with an injection that put him out like a light. We packed up immediately and drove (and prayed) like crazy to make it home before he woke up (it was a 10 hour drive), stopping only for gas.
There is even more to tell, but point made: contentment can be found anywhere, and happiness is a choice.
Contentment means being at peace with where you are, who you are, and what you have. It is trusting that God will take care of what comes next and we don’t have to worry because He’s got this. It is being comfortable in your skin, being your truest self. Like coffee, contentment is an acquired taste, and as we decide to like it, we realize how good it really is.
Are you worried about your next move? The unknown future that awaits? Is enough never enough? Are you running so fast you can’t stop yourself? Take some time everyday to breathe – breathe in with gratitude for all of God’s provision and out with your doubt, releasing it to him. Read about Paul’s journey to contentment in Philippians 4. Talk to Jesus about your anxiety. He understands. And his solution, the night of his arrest, was to lay it all out to the Father, which prepared him for what was to come.
I have learned to be content, no matter what the circumstances.
–Philippians 4:11b (NIV)