What is contentment?

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23)

I think of this Scripture often. Above all else. Guard your heart. It's the wellspring of your life, Jonathan.

I do want to live a 'good' life, after all (who doesn't?). So, what does it mean to "guard"? What is my "heart"? Above all, really? Everything I do flows from this spring? How do I get good into my "heart," whatever "heart" is?

As I was contemplating the meaning of contentment, that's the well-known proverb that drifted onto the shorts of my mind. Also, this psalm came along.

"I do not concern myself with matters to great and lofty for me, but I have calmed and quieted my soul. Like a weaned child with its mother, so is my soul within me." (Psalm 131)

And, then another Scripture came floating in with the tide of contentment's beckoning.

"Watch out! Be on your guard against every form of greed, for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Jesus)

There's a false contentment that plays a faux possum, sidestepping real emotional honesty, confrontation, and connection. I think that false contentment gets a lot of airtime and praise in Christian (or religious) circles. That kind of 'contentment' isn't moving us toward the abundant life which Jesus spoke of (see John 10:10). 

The apostle Paul spoke of being "content" whatever the circumstances, though, right? He told the disciples in Philippi he'd learned the "secret" of contentment - lots of food, little food, poverty, riches...contentment! 

Was he shutting down his soul, his passions, his heart's desires? Was he a masochist? Was he a gnostic who disregarded the body? No. I believe his secret lay in the satiation of a child who's been weaned off of mama's milk but yet living with a joyfully attachment bond at his mother's breast. He wasn't dependent on the gifts (i.e. the milk) anymore. He was attached and attuned to her presence, her heartbeat, her emotions. Which means, I suppose that "contentment" doesn't sidestep grief, sadness, groaning and lament.

In this world, we live amidst a deluge of pleasures - likes, shares, notifications, ads, subscriptions, episodes, channels, clicks, pings, hits, shots, possessions, etc. - that call for our attention, addiction, and allegiance. The subterfuge is real. The fight to live a fully human life as God created us for is a very real challenge.

There's a vigilance needed which we can't amass on our own. I believe, only in a place of connection, co-regulation, and felt safety in the merciful embrace of Abba Father as his beloved child, hidden in Christ, imbued with the holy Spirit, and interwoven in the physical body of Christ on earth, will we find the satiation that can help us live with a contentment that empowers us to truly "guard" our hearts and souls. It's the starting point, at least. 


Popular Posts