Monday, March 8, 2010

To Be, or Not to Be, Content

One of Honey Bear’s favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:11: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

It’s a lovely thing to write, of course, but what makes it even lovelier is knowing that he wrote it from jail. Paul, as it turns out, spent a lot of time in jail; scholars often refer to the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon as the prison epistles, since he penned all of them from the slammer. And yet there he was, in jail, reminding the Philippians, and all of us, that it’s not about the prison, but the prisoner. That it’s not about life, but the liver (not the organ, mind you, but one who lives). We can all be as content, or not, as we choose to be.

Honey Bear is great at this, at living in the moment. Me, not so much. There’s always something nagging at me, some little voice reminding me that life will be better when.

Funny thing is, that when is always changing; no matter how swiftly I pursue it, it’s always sliding out from under me, like my shadow in the golden hour of afternoon. In junior high, I was certain high school was the paradise I’d always waited for. But once I got to high school, I just wanted to get to college. Once I got to college, I just wanted to graduate. And once I was married, I just wanted to have kids.

I’m not sure why, since I’ve never been much of a baby person. (My mom and sister still tease me for holding up a diaper when I was fifteen and asking, “Uh, which way does it go?”) But as I mentioned in this post, there was a time when I wanted babies so badly that I was issuing silent hexes on every pregnant woman I passed. For two years, I was miserable, or, at the very best, not content.

And now I look back and realize there were so many good things about that time, before Honey Bear and I had kids. (All of you parents are chuckling right now, I know, but really, I’m trying to be serious.) Honey Bear and I were so young and in love that we could barely look at each other without giggling, and our quaint basement apartment, with its two bedrooms, crown molding, and almost empty fridge, was positively palatial.

(You may be wondering about the fridge, but honestly, after sharing a refrigerator with five other girls, having an almost empty one was nigh unto Elysian. That other fridge was so crowded that our milk would often freeze--and that was on the warmest setting.)

We’re still young, of course, and still very much in love, but it’s not the same now. We don’t exist just for each other anymore. And sometimes, I miss that. I think I miss it more because I didn’t fully appreciate it back then.

Now my writing career has given me another chance, since where I am right now--unpublished--is not where I want to be. But whether or not I reach that summit, I’m determined to love the climb. Because I’d much rather live in the middle of all these lovely words than outside of them. There is contentment in that.


Myrna Foster said...

Hey, my fridge is a lot like your fridge was in college. I guess it's time to clean it out. ;)

Seriously, I needed this post. Thank you.

Krista V. (the former Krista G.) said...

You are very welcome:)

KLM said...

Oh, Gosh. This definitely falls into the catch-all category of "easier said than done!" Contentment for me is hitting that sweet spot between wanting and having. It's all well and good to look forward to things, to pursue a goal. Except when that's making you miserable. In that event, I find that wine usually helps. :)


Krista V. (the former Krista G.) said...

Great point, Kristen, about the balance between being goal-oriented and just being miserable.

And my drown-my-sorrows-in-a-cup-of-it beverage is chocolate milk:)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I struggle with this too, Krista. This whole getting published thing is such a rollercoaster. One day I'm feeling all bad about myself that I haven't made it yet, and the next day I'm thanking God that I'm not published because I get to enjoy writing (without a real deadline!) and enjoy my family. I guess it comes down to trusting in God's timing and just being who He asks me to be today.

Holly said...

What a beautiful, heartwarming post. You made me smile!

Krista V. (the former Krista G.) said...

Amy, isn't God's timing so much better than ours? :)

Holly, thanks. That's what I aim to be: smile-inducing:)

Liesl said...

Well, I never longed for children, as they came much sooner than I anticipated, however I remember holding my second and third babies a lot more, just cuddling them to my chest, knowing that they would grow up so fast and learn to talk back to me.

Maybe I should think of publishing that way. Just cuddle that manuscript. Love it, improve it, while no one has read it and can throw it back in your face. What if they tell you your baby is ugly? Write another one to improve your odds. That's why I have three kids. No sense in putting all your eggs in one basket. Just kidding! (Sort of.)

Krista V. (the former Krista G.) said...

Liesl, ha! Now there's a very practical reason for having multiple children: What if the first one turns out ugly and impertinent? :)

Mary Ellen said...

For some reason this post reminded me of that cute little movie with meg ryan and tom hanks, and the way Megs words sounded. If fact, as I was reading it I heard her voice, like she was reading an email to Tom. I can't think of the name of it right now and it's driving me crazy! oh, oh I thought of it! You've Got Mail!

Krista V. (the former Krista G.) said...

Thank you for the compliment, Mary.

I saw your comment and thought, "Mary Ellen. Hmm. Never heard from her before." But then I saw Swed's Weeds and realized I had:)