The Delicate Balance of Contentment

The Delicate Balance of Contentment
This last weekend we enjoyed visiting family in Kansas. Of course, we loved it, and as soon as we left, I'm already looking forward to the next time we'll all get together. Even so, there's something about coming home that's so refreshing.

Even to our messy home.

I'm making little bits of progress with this round of Simplifying Home. Week 2: Living + Family wasn't exactly life-changing this go-around. The benefits of decluttering I've done before are still lingering. I cleaned out and organized a couple tech boxes we store under the TV, and cleaned out some storage ottomans that gather kids' toys.

The messes in other places in our home still abound. Bathrooms need deep cleaned, and bedrooms need decluttered and organized. I noticed how bad those areas need attention after our weekend getaway.

We stayed in a very clean and clutter-free guest room. Homier than a hotel room and just as clean. Even if a space isn't decorated in my style, the cleanliness is always welcoming and relaxing. Then, we came home and I realized cleanliness and clutter-free isn't everything.

Because in this place, even while dust bunnies gather in obnoxious places and bathrooms magnetize grime, this is home. And it's always good to be here, content with where we are and what we have.

That isn't always my experience. Contentment turns into complaints real fast when I see how little we have compared to others or see how much we struggle for this place. The contentment will likely come and go throughout life, and I'm learning maybe a healthy hint of discontent is just as important.

I saw a glimpse of it through my daughter this weekend.

The place we stayed was a spacious and welcoming apartment addition to a barn. When I first directed the kids up the unlit, unfinished wood stairs, Brylee resisted. She said she was scared and whined about not wanting to sleep up there.

I kept her moving, knowing she'd be satisfied with our accommodations once she stepped through the door onto luscious new carpet and climbed into the cushy, pillow-laden bed.

She upped her whimper as we neared the top of the stairs, "I don't want to stay here. This is scar... Woah."

She stopped mid-"scary" as she walked through the door.

I knew she wouldn't complain about the homey space. Yet she was stuck on the dark and unfinished stairs and convinced that something similar was waiting at the top.

I see myself do the same. Life can be scary and hard and unfinished. I sometimes have difficulty comprehending that there could be anything truly great awaiting in Heaven. Jesus keeps prodding me along, and I'm sure mid-whimper the door will open to shut me up with only a "woah" muttered at Jesus' feet.

He gives me glimpses of it at home. That deep welcoming feeling that transcends dust bunnies and bathroom grime. Heaven will be that on steroids. Because the unfinished and clutter-filled won't be there. Just a deep sense of "aaahh... home" surrounded by paradise.

I'm thankful for seasons and even moments of contentment. When I think about our home--a mansion when compared to the shacks or cardboard boxes some call home--I'm silenced by gratitude.

Then, complaints creep up to corrupt those moments. I see too-small rugs, not-right collages, and those never-clean corners. I get whiny about a perpetually unfinished, in-progress, messy home. And while contentment is good, I'm learning discontent has its own place, too.

That's my reminder that my home will never see perfection this side of Heaven. I can keep working on it and enjoy the process, but my truly perfect home is waiting for me elsewhere.

Paul couldn't have said it better:
"Sometimes we can hardly wait to move--and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less. ... Cramped conditions here don't get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. | 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, The Message
And that seems to be the balance between contentment for where we are and what we have, while we also yearn for more.

It's perhaps the balance God had in mind for the Israelites in the wilderness. That they'd stop grumbling over their hard life and just see all the ways God provided for them--cloud-cooled days, fire-warmed nights, heaven-sent bread. How blessed!

Yet, those blessings weren't The Blessing. They were still on their way to a Promised Land.

Contentment didn't mean then, and it doesn't mean now, giving up the journey. Contentment means gratitude in the process while we continue toward Home.


also read:
simplicity, simplified
simplifying home: 8-week challenge
week 2: living + family