Contentment

 

I have been thinking about the idea of contentment lately.  It’s nothing new, at least not for me.  It’s a true blessing to enjoy and be satisfied with all that I have in my life, and I am definitely not referring to material possessions, although I have much of that too.  Being content is kind of a catch 22.  I should be happy with all that I have and achieved but also I should not easily settle and continue to work hard to better myself and my family.  I’ve learned that contentment with material things is very important.  Where I want to grow more is becoming a person who loves and trusts more, a person who gives more, a person who fully appreciates life’s “simple” blessings.

This is where nature and backpacking have helped me to realize how to be content in all things and in all conditions.  During my most recent backpacking trip, I thought about how simplified my life was while I was on the trail.  I literally carried everything I could possibly need in my backpack and not once wanted for anything that I wasn’t carrying.  Everything I bring with me has multiple uses and meet all of my most pressing needs.  My sleeping bag insulates my body from the elements and has even insulated cold foods during the hottest of summer days.  My sleeping pad provides a soft surface to sleep on as well as leaning against a tree during an afternoon lunch break.  The 50 ft. of parachute cord serves as a means of hanging my food from bears and to hang wet clothes from at the end of a rainy day.  I’ve even used the materials around me to my advantage.  A cold stream is perfect to chill drinks and the sand on the stream bed scours a dirty pot after cooking food.

All of these experiences hiking have helped me to be more content in my daily life as well.  As an educator, I have a well-paying, rewarding job that also affords me a lot of time off during the summer to spend with my daughter.  I have been married to a wonderful Christian woman for almost 12 years who daily goes out of her way to take care of me and love me to the best of her ability.  I have an amazing church family of brothers and sisters in Christ who walk hand in hand with my family and I in life and encourage us to be better Christians, spouses and parents.  In all, I have every reason to be content.  And that contentment has brought true happiness to my life.  I’m getting to the point where I can agree with Paul’s statement he made to the church at Philippi in Phillipians 4:11-13 when he said, ” 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.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

-Joe

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