Monday, April 19, 2010

The Treasure of Contentment

How much is enough?  "Enough what?" you might ask.  Oh, I guess enough of anything:  money, recognition, power, possessions, friends, "connections," etc.  Is there even an answer to that question?

Is it possible to be content?  I mean truly content--a satisfaction that is felt in the heart and affects our attitudes, thoughts and actions.  Can we give up our worries and our wants and be content in this life?
Years ago, I read a book called "Calm my Anxious Heart," by Linda Dillow.  I've been re-reading it the past few days.  In the first several pages, I was already blown away by the attitude of some beautiful souls in the world.  Listen to this:

Along with her husband and children, Ella worked as a missionary with the pygmies in Africa for fifty-two years.  She had left her country, her family, and all that was familiar.  Primitive doesn't begin to describe her living conditions in the scorching heat and humidity of the African bush.  But Ella found no relief because electricity, air conditioning, and other modern conveniences were only a dream.  Some days it was so unbearably hot that she had to bring the thermometer inside because it couldn't register past 120 degrees without breaking.

Ella's daughter, Mimi, is my frined.  Mimi wondered how her mother had done it--how she had lived a life of contentment when her circumstances would have caused the hardiest to complain.  Recently Mimi unearthed a treasure, a much more significant find than gold or silver.  In an old diary of her mother's, she discovered Ella's prescription for contentment:
  • Never allow yourself to complain about anything--not even the weather.
  • Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else.
  • Never compare your lot with another's
  • Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
  • Never dwell on tomorrow--remember that [tomorrow] is God's, not ours.

Her words overwhelm me; they shame me.  How could Ella not complain of the weather when the perspiration dripped off her, when the stale, humid air kept her from sleeping?  What made her everyday focus so different . . .?  Her eyes were fixed on eternity.  Her tomorrows belonged to God.  She had given them to Him.  And because all her tomorrows were nestled in God's strong arms, she was free to live today.  One day at a time she could make the right choices and grow to possess the holy habit of contentment.  Ella's focus was eternal, and her focus led to an internal contentment.  (pp. 12-13)

Oh, the treasures we can find if we just look for the right things!  I love how Mrs. Dillow described Ella's journal entry as a "treasure."  Sometimes it seems we're (I'm) searching for the wrong things in life.  And many times when we get what we thought we wanted, it turns out to be not so great after all.  The real treasures can't be bought, sold, or manipulated.

I really can't add much to enrich what Mrs. Dillow wrote on the subject.  So, I'll recommend the book and hope you have a chance to read it! :)

(Not even the WEATHER!!  Can you believe it?)


  1. Oh wow... what a convicting story! Really enjoyed that... going to print out those guidelines. Thanks for sharing- I'm going to add this book to my must read list!

  2. What a beautiful, sweet post.

    Oh I would love to glean from that book, I just looked it up....What sweet reminders. I'm going to try go purchase a copy. : )

    Thanks so much for sharing with us!

    Love you, ~Amelia


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