Thursday, April 16, 2009


1 a: physical environment : space b: a way for admission or transit c: physical surroundings : atmosphere

I recently read a book called Prague that was set in Budapest. This bothered me for part of the book, until I realized how much of the book was about longing to be elsewhere - in another city, another country, even another time. It made me think about how much our place in life has to do with our contentment.

I know people who are convinced they would be happier if they lived somewhere else. Sometimes this is justified (i.e. moving somewhere sunnier when you suffer from seasonal affective disorder), but mostly, I think discontent with place is about a deeper sense of dissatisfaction that has very little to do with our surroundings and everything to do with our inner well-being.

As I've mentioned in some recent posts, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to really live. I see our desires to move, to change jobs, to buy a new house as symptomatic of not really choosing to live wherever you are. Instead, we wait until the next phase, place or stage to really start living.

Not long ago, I read a blog post about someone's lush green grass in their suburban home. I don't really care about our grass and I certainly don't want to live in a suburb, but I was momentarily dissatisfied
after reading the post. Our home isn't perfect, but I like it. It's not too big, it's not too small. I can walk the girls to school when we get up early enough in the mornings (which admittedly is not very often). I can even walk to the grocery store when I only need to pick up a few things. I am happy with my place, as long as I don't spend too much time comparing it to others' places.

As I've aged - or perhaps I should say as I've matured - I have found so much dissatisfaction in my life stems from comparison. Whether comparing bodies, abilities or homes, wherever we are or whatever we have pales slightly in comparison to others. So I am trying to stay mentally and emotionally in my physical place. I don't want to wish away my time, but enjoy it for what it is and for where it is spent. I find this is a hard lesson to teach myself.

A few years ago, when A & B were about 4 & 3, they were standing naked side-by-side about to get in to the bathtub. Their bodies are shaped so differently and I realized at their young ages that their body shapes had nothing to do with the amount of exercise they were doing or the foods they were eating. These are simply the bodies God gave them. So why am I constantly trying to change my body's shape? In a very real sense, our bodies are the places we spend the most time in, so I must find a certain degree of contentment there if I am to be content anywhere else.

I hope I'll persevere in learning the lesson of loving my place in life and that I can help my daughters learn this lesson at a much younger age. I love thinking about all they can accomplish and who they can be if they know who they are before they are in their thirties!


Chris and Tiana said...

Is this your subtle way of trying to tell me I shouldn't move back to NC? :)

No seriously, I have fallen in to this trap my entire life. I'm always looking forward to what comes next instead of enjoying the here and now. I'm getting better, but still find myself doing it far too often. And as for comparison, were you in the Bible study when someone told us that "comparison is the thief of joy?" I love that quote...

Variations On A Theme said...

I have a magnet on my fridge to help remind me: "The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise seeks it under his feet." I love that quote, and I know what you mean.

Chocolate, Vanilla and Caramel said...

I love this post! You are so right about everything you say about contentment. I too have been thinking a lot about contentment lately. Like Tiana said, it's so easy to keep looking for happiness right around the corner, at the next stage of life. But of course the perfect stage of life never comes and we find that we've used up all our energy wishing for something else and missing the joys that are there all along.

My husband and I have a goal: to enjoy each season of life. It sounds so simple, but it's not as easy to actually do. I find, just like you said, that I'm not content and enjoying my current season of life when I compare --when I look at others and what they have, or who they are, and then I get unhappy with who I am or what God has given me.

When I quit focusing on others, I realize how simple life really is, and how even a sunny day playing outside with my kids can bring such joy.

Also, thanks for your kind and funny comment. I was wearing maternity pants for quite a while after I had both of my kids!!!