The Secret to Contentment
I settled long, long ago with the fact that I wasn’t going to have children of my own. It doesn’t make the pain of knowing that I will grow old with nobody to carry on my name or my family traditions any less painful. However, my spirit is content with my situation, and perhaps that is the greatest gift I have to give fathers. The sense of knowing true contentment.
I’ll never know what it’s like to be woken in the middle of the night by a crying baby. I’ll never know that sleepless, desperate feeling fathers the world over have felt from the first moment they attempted to rock their baby to sleep to that moment spent waiting for my teenager to show up back home finally.
However, I can offer all of you fathers the world over that true contentment does eventually come. It’s a little like climbing the highest mountain peak you can imagine, winding up and over switchback after switchback to get to the peak. The emotions and strain of getting to the summit, contentment, will be worth it from the sweeping vistas.
Philippians 4:11–12 (NIV), “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
The Moment Contentment Came Flooding In
I’m pretty sure the moment I began to understand this strange emotion of contentment the day I was playing with a little boy on the floor of a house in Ukraine. This little boy was the son of a young man that I became a “father” to simply because I made myself available to pick him up at the airport when he spent a year studying at an American university. Throughout this year he and I spent lots of time talking about life, the importance of your “yes” being “yes” and your “no” being “no” and what it meant to be a man who could love his wife enough to let her become who she was designed to be. Years after this experience I was blessed with spending time with his first son, letting him know what an incredible man his father was.
I may never have my own grandchildren, but because I have made myself available in many situations to be used by God, I have kids and now grandkids the world over. As this peace has settled over me, I genuinely have grasped Paul’s words in Philippians, and I know that in every situation I am content, I am satisfied with who God created me to be. I am comfortable being used by God in whatever circumstance He thrusts me in.
Today I am content to be once again used by God as I have the privilege to train with and mentor a young ultra-runner who just begged his mom to let him pace me in my next 100-mile race. I can’t wait for the bonds we will form in this challenging endeavor as we persevere through whatever the race day brings us. This is contentment, and it is attainable by all.
You might say the secret to what Paul is describing in these verses is simply this. The secret to contentment is to be available to be used by God. When you set aside trying to control every situation and simply allow yourself to be available, contentment will now startlingly enter your life.