Several months ago I was out driving and decided to travel up to a neighborhood where we once lived 25 years ago. I had not been there for several years and just thought it would be nice to see it. While driving there, I reflected back to when we first moved into the neighborhood. I can still remember the excitement I had when we moved in.
Our children were all under the age of 5 at the time. It was a perfect home for our family. The home was so nice, and so new, and far better than any home we had lived in. I felt like a queen in this home and wanted to proudly show it off. We invited people over often for dinner. This home brought me much joy and many memories.
But how things change in 25 years! As I reached the neighborhood, I was shocked! What was once such a nice neighborhood had deteriorated so much I almost did not recognize it. As I approached the home we had lived in, I was equally disappointed.
What happened to that dream home I once was so proud of? Junk cars were parked in the yard that I once had taken so much time to plant beautiful flowers in. The porch was unpainted and the roof needed great repair. What a great disappointment!
This experience reminded me of the time when we bought our brand-new 1998 Corolla! It was so new, and I can still remember the smell of it. I would park way out in the store parking lot just so others wouldn't slam their doors into my new car.
Well, now that Corolla has lost its newness, with 240,000 miles on it and a few dings and rust marks. I no longer park way out in parking lots. Although it's still a great car, I no longer have the excitement I once had when it was new.
How hard we all work to have all these nice things. It contributes to our feelings of self-worth if we own a brand-new home or a brand-new car. And yes, we even feel ashamed if our house does not measure up to our friend's home. So because our home may not be as nice as someone else's, we may not invite as many people over.
Adult Peer Pressure
Just like teens, we as adults also face peer pressure. Now it is pressure to work harder to get nicer things. In itself this is not wrong. It is when we place our worth on these things and forget the attitude of contentment that we can find ourselves on the path of ingratitude, discouragement, jealousy and even anger because we think life is unfair.
Nothing better illustrates adult peer pressure to me than an article I read by David Hoke titled "Contentment." He paints a familiar scenario:
Our neighbor, Don Jones, drives up one day in his new Volvo. We can't help but notice. That old Ford Tempo he had been driving was a respectable, but modest car. It really made us feel comfortable. But a new Volvo is another story. This upscale car makes us feel uncomfortable.
In fact, new emotions seem to surface—envy, discontentment and the desire to "keep up with the Joneses." What shall we do? Well, we resolve the problem a few days later by driving up in a new Audi! Now we feel better.
How many of us can relate to or care to admit to feeling that way?
This came home to me recently when my husband's inheritance was taken by a very cunning stranger. The home that we were to inherit was beautiful. Our family had been in the will to inherit this for years. We took the person to court but still lost this dream home.
As I struggled to make some sense of it, trying to understand how such a cruel thing could happen to our family, I was reminded of what is truly important. People see the things you have, and even befriend you because of them, but God sees who you are inside. That is what matters to Him.
So what is contentment?
It is choosing to be happy with things as they are. It is freedom from the folly and frustration of unsatisfied desire. Contentment comes, not because the circumstances of our lives are "ideal," but because they are as God, in His love and wisdom, allows them to be at the moment (Philippians 4:11 Philippians 4:11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.
American King James Version×).
Contentment is bedrock, inner peace with God, desiring nothing but to become more like God and to have the glorious privilege and honor of serving in the great work of God among men. "Godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6 1 Timothy 6:6But godliness with contentment is great gain.
American King James Version×).
I really wanted this home that we lost, but the fact is, houses and cars get old. You can't take the fancy home with you to the grave, nor can you park your cool car next to you in your grave. It is your character—what God is doing in you—that will last for eternity. This cannot be stolen from you.
Realizing that it is the inner man that matters to God, not material things, will give you peace of mind and contentment! For that is the bedrock of contentment! UN