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Choosing Contentment
Photo: Beth Twist
Today marks the sixth anniversary of moving into our duplex. We originally planned on living here for only a few months. We’d been renting a spacious, remodeled house with a beautiful view of the Blue Mountains. Unfortunately, the owners had to sell unexpectedly, and we had thirty days to find a different place. We found a newer, bright and cheery duplex, so we decided to rent it until we found a bigger house. And we’re still here. 

The problem with our duplex is this: it’s small. Very small. Eight-hundred square feet small. When it looked like we’d be living here for awhile, I knew I had a choice to make. I could complain and fuss about our circumstances, or I could accept the fact and make this house our home. I decided to make the better choice. I didn’t want to someday look back on our time here and find that I’d wasted years that could have built good memories. 

So we still have families over for dinner, even though we lack a formal dining room. We still put up a large Christmas tree and find places for every decoration. We still have family come for visits, spreading cousins in sleeping bags across the floor. Our daughter still had a dozen kids here for her last birthday party, filling our home with laughter. 

It wasn’t easy—learning to be content in such a small place. I’ve struggled and felt sorry for myself at times. But what forever changed my view of this little place was my husband’s mission trip to Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. He brought back dozens of pictures and video footage of people who’d lost their homes. Some pictures showed families standing on their house’s bare tile floors—the only thing left that hadn’t been swept away. Others had placed flags where they thought their homes had been, reclaiming only their land. 

Feeling Guilty

Looking at the pictures, I felt guilty…. Our warm, cozy home looked pretty good in comparison. Maybe you’re dissatisfied with your house: it’s too big or too small; the carpet dates it or the paint is fading; the yard’s not big enough, or the windows aren’t pained. Maybe you catch yourself comparing your house with your friends—feeling that yours is always lacking. 

Paul gave us the key to contentment when he said in Philippians 4:12 and 13, “I have learned the secret of being content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Paul doesn’t say he’s thrilled about every situation, or happy about every outcome. But he had learned to be content through the strength God gave him. 

The choice is ours: complain, or be content. I’m going to choose contentment. I don’t want to waste a single day complaining. I can never get that day back.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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