Monday, July 13, 2009

Learning to be content

Last week I visited BabyWorld and spied a nappy bag called "Traveller". Dave, baby and I are heading to South Africa in three weeks, so I took a closer look. The bag was fantastic, much better than our hand-me-down nappy bag. Wow! $100 seemed reasonable for this amazing baby accessory. I thought . . . I work hard and this would make life easier . . . when we're spending so much on airfares what is $100 to make the trip go more smoothly . . . I've spent so little on baby things so far, don't I have the right to choose some of my own things? I went home hatching a plan for how I could persuade Dave that this really was the best ever nappy bag and we should have it. 

Fast forward two days, and it dawned on me that it was ridiculous to want to replace a perfectly good nappy bag with a better one in order to travel to a country where people make homes out of political posters (and whatever else they can find). I was reminded of Zukiswa's comments on the recent South African elections:

After today my street lights will not be littered by mugs of politicians and parties. The posters will however become useful elsewhere. I have noticed in the past that they tend to come in handy for some of my enterprising fellow-citizens (I am thinking here of an old poster that I saw in some informal settlement some months back covering the dwellers from the summer rain. The poster said, Vote ANC, A Better Life for All.)

I am not saying there is anything wrong with fantastic nappy bags. However, there is something wrong with the desire to replace good, sufficient things with better ones. This goal is what our consumer society is built upon. It leads to greed and waste, and diverts money that could be used for God's kingdom. I don't have a hard life and I don't have a "right" to have better things.

God has used a few things to drive home this reminder not to be covetous. One is the ABC sampler I'm making for Elnathan's room. The verse on the sampler reads ". . . For one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Luke 12:15b". There is a picture of a flourishing garden and a home, basic things and places that sustain us. 

Secondly, God used 1 John 2:15 - 17 to remind me that chasing after possessions is not godly. 

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions - is not from the Father but from the world.And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Femina blog has several articles about contentment. I find that it is easy to be discontent about many things - from the amount of time it takes me just to do the laundry, feed Elnathan or wash up, to the behaviour of people close to me, to my level of knowledge and mental ability. Just about anything can become something to be discontent about. A prayer in the Valley of Vision  reminds me that it is how we respond to our circumstances, not those circumstances themselves, that matters . . . "may my character and not my circumstances chiefly engage me." This is just one aspect of the long journey toward truly trusting God. Do I trust God that he has provided me with enough possessions, ability, knowledge, health etc. for this time in my life? Not yet, but I pray that I will.


  1. happy monday to you,
    i asm continually surprised at what folks will spend on items. here in the states the "newest" diaper bag is about $400. i made mine when i was pregnant with my fist born and used it again with the second. it probably didn' cost me $10 to make it. granted the bags are much fancier now and there are so many things available to help travel with baby than there were when mine were born. honetly, i too might be caught up in needing the $400 version, or perhaps my own children will when they bless me with grandchildren someday.

    i will keep you in my prayers for a safe trip and a fun family adventure to south africa.

    are you going to visit family? or work related?

    blessings, mari

  2. Hello Mari,

    We are going to South Africa to visit family, which will be wonderful. We are looking forward to introducing Elnathan to Gran and Gramps! We also have many friends there.

  3. The devil doesn't have to stir too hard to breed discontent in a homemaker does he?

    My biggest trap is comparing myself to others. I've caught myself so many times, especially while blogging, desiring a spotless house like so and so, who has a dishwasher, and who doesn't have to venture out to hang up the washing on the line; while I'm washing dishes for a family of 6, and trying to do sometimes up to 4 loads of washing a day, including nappies... and so it goes... not to mention the homeschooling... and the to do list never gets done... whine, whine whine...

    I've found the only remedy is to practice THANKFULNESS- I have the workload because I'm incredibly blessed!!! And if I'm in the mood for comparing, I look to my Christian forebears, who had more children than I do, had no hot or cold running water, and no washing machine, AND who didn;t whine like I do!!

    Thankyou Jesus for your blood that cleanses me from all sin.

  4. Hello Claire,

    Thanks for sharing your struggles and reminding me of the truth that thankfulness is a great help in avoiding discontentment. You've inspired me to pray many thankful prayers this afternoon!