From the Rector
A Season of Gratitude at Prince of Peace
Gratitude and Contentment
We all know discontent pretty well, there are billion dollar industries that exist to fuel it. Everywhere we turn we’re told that we could be happy if only ___________. Today, I’d like to share about contentment as another cornerstone of gratitude.
We often confuse happiness and contentment. Happiness is something that comes from the outside and contentment is something that comes from the inside. Happiness (outside) is often fueled by the strategy "more is better." Where there is nothing wrong with exterior things bringing a sense of happiness, but chasing after them isn’t sustainable. It takes a lot of energy and time to keep that consumer (more) strategy up. It’s exhausting.
The second strategy, which can build contentment, is the "enough" strategy. People begin to direct their attention inward to find….wait for it…..contentment (an interior satisfaction).
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shares a way to contentment:….. Seek first the kingdom of God and your relationship with God and all things needed will be given to you.34 Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. According to Jesus, contentment comes from our relationship with God.
Here are a few practices you can try cultivate to develop a greater sense of contentment:
Identify your beliefs.Are they true? What external things do you think will complete you? Will they really? Do you have to wait for an external to happen to find contentment? What internal things do you need to complete you? Relationships, values, service, gratitude, generosity, love….focus on those and intentionally remove everything else. Jesus gives us some pretty good guidelines on how to focus on what’s important….Love God, love neighbor as you love yourself.
De-clutter…… We spend $38 billion on storage units. Swedes practice Döstädning means "death cleaning.'' It's what they do to save their relatives from sorting out their personal belongings after they die. It can be done at any time. De-cluttering helps to cultivating contentment by practicing the opposite of mindless consumption.
Practice a form of contemplation/meditation: mindfulness, centering prayer, lectio divina. These practices help us to focus on the present moment. So much of our focus is often on the future, worries, fears, and our plans, that we miss the present moments.
I’d like to share a quote from St. Augustine who talks about discontentment and contentment when he writes….You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our lives are restless until they find their rest in you.
May you practice what you can and may you be gifted with the Peace of God which passes all understanding.