It’s not an evil word. In fact, I think I might use it as the obscure word I teach my 6th graders before starting Scripture on Wednesday.
It can be a great thing to want to seek better, to work harder, to streamline, smooth out and improve.
But what happens if I become so focussed on this better future that I hope for, that all I manage to do is foster a sense of discontentedness with my current situation?
The problem is our society is saturated with messages telling us we must long for more. Ads need us to believe that a bigger TV, a “smarter” phone, a faster car (don’t we have speed limits?) & shinier teeth will somehow give us a profound sense of well being. Our education system is slowly being pushed into giving every kids a prize and selling the dream that all of us ARE exceptional, we’ll all do great things & we can all somehow be the best. My personal gripe about reality TV is that it works on the premise that you, yes YOU too, can be famous. One moment you’re sitting in your house, the next you’re cooking the ultimate dinner, renovating the best house, walking down the fashion runway, all while we “outwit, outplay and outlast” the rest.
and all the time we’re losing the appreciation of what we have now.
It keeps us buying, it keeps us travelling, it keep us watching and it keeps us hoping.
Of course I’m no different. Whether it’s the new app on my phone, the new book on my shelf, or the new chocolate store I’m dying to try, I’m hungry for there to be more.
But I recently read the following verses from Ecclesiastes:
This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for people to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives people wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
I read this & it gives me a new hunger. I still want to work hard & if I’m lucky that might mean that I am afforded new opportunities, new chances, new flavours. BUT, I want to reclaim the idea of “accepting my lot.” Let the rest of the world think that it’s the catch cry of the uninspired and the underachiever, I want to own it as the phrase that allows me to enjoy a thousand blessings, a million little moments of pleasure that otherwise I’d be too preoccupied hoping for the future to notice.
Brown sugar on porridge, a 9-month old son who loves to blow raspberries at you, a clean desk, the smell of spring, freshly ground pepper, a warm doona, or a cold glass of water…
They’re all here, and they are all right now! I don’t have to wait for them, hope for them, or beat out 20 other contestants to have them.
But I am in danger, we’re all in danger of losing the joy that they bring if I refuse to look down at what I have because I can only look forward to what I want.
What’s the treasure that realise would “keep you occupied with gladness of heart” if only you remind yourself to enjoy it now?