"I pray you, husband, be thou not so disquiet; the meat was well, if you were so content..." - Katherina, The Taming of the Shrew
More than thirty years after high school, I remember this line from William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. How could anyone who sat in Mrs. Whitehead's senior English class EVER forget Steve Kinsey's interpretation of Katherina, next to Jeff McClain's Petruchio?!! This one line brought the house down, and made Mrs. Whitehead laugh so hard that she had tears streaming down her face and could hardly breathe.
...if you were so content...
Contentment is something I often struggle with. If you look at the list of Blog Topics on the right side of this page, you will see that the topic of contentment has been the subject of multiple posts.
I would love to be able to say that contentment is a lesson I have mastered. Checked it off. Moved on to the next thing on the list. But just when I realize that I have been enjoying a prolonged period of relative contentment, this gray shadow swells in my chest, a vague, sinking feeling of disquiet.
Over the years, I have learned...
Contentment is not imperturbability.
Contentment is not resignation.
Contentment is not passivity.
Contentment is not denial.
Contentment is not "going with the flow."
Contentment is something much bigger and deeper, more solid and more active than any of those things. Also, contentment has a sweetness which those other things lack. I have tasted it.
Contentment, at least for me, requires discipline. It is work. W-O-R-K.
I read recently that contentment springs from gratitude, and gratitude is grounded in humility.
When I am discontent, it is pretty clear that I am lacking gratitude. Sometimes, it is harder to connect the dots all the way back to humility...or the lack thereof.
Paul said that he "learned" contentment (Philippians 4:11). We are commanded to be grateful (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and a stubborn refusal to do so is a mark of the unregenerate heart (Romans 1:21). Christ himself practiced humility (Philippians 2:8), and we are told to do the same (Colossians 3:12).
Contentment isn't just something that happens to me - like a passing mood. It is something I DO.
...if I were so content...
3 weeks ago