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  • Writer's pictureCarli Rosencranz

Contentment is a Posture of the Heart

I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks back, and he asked me what I thought about contentment… is it a good thing or a bad thing?  The question struck me as so odd. How could contentment be bad? 

I love my talks with this friend for so many reasons. Not least among them is that they rarely stay surface level… they go soul deep.  And I always learn something. He mentioned that most of the women he has asked this question to thought of contentment as a good thing, while most of the men he has asked thought of it as a bad thing. 

I asked him, how can it be a bad thing? And we talked about contentment vs. striving. The word “enough” is what comes to mind when I think of contentment. And that perhaps some people feel that if you are content, you will stop trying to achieve. This could end up in complacency. And many people confuse contentment with complacency. 

To me, contentment has nothing to do with complacency. Complacency is lukewarm. It’s defeated. It’s numb. It’s a victim mentality. Contentment is solid and grounded and present. Contentment is a practice. It’s a choice, where complacency is an abdication of choice. 

I think complacency is what Brene Brown refers to as a “near enemy” of contentment. Where a “far enemy” is opposite and obviously counter, like perhaps greed would be to contentment - a “near enemy” is more sinister because it seems similar but is actually counter.  That’s what complacency is as it relates to contentment. It may seem similar from the outside, but it’s actually an internal blocker to achieving contentment.  

Can you be ambitious and content at the same time? I think so. Ambition is about the future, while contentment is about the present. I believe I can be ambitious about the impact I can make in this lifetime that God has given me to make a difference, while also walking in contentment each day. In fact, I don’t think I can make the impact I’m meant to make without being present in the moments I’m given, and I am certainly more present in the moment when I am experiencing contentment. 

Contentment is a posture of the heart. To me it is a close kin to gratitude. I am able to choose contentment in part because I choose gratitude. I choose it daily, sometimes with more success than others. That’s why it is a practice. 

I can’t think of contentment without what Paul wrote coming to mind… “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

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