Contentment, Happiness, Love

Philippians Chapter 4, verses 11-13. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

There’s also the story of the old man who, after the death of his wife, decided to move into a retirement home. As he was touring the facility, he kept saying to the young woman showing him around that he was sure he’d love it. She finally remarked on his great attitude about everything, and asked him how he knew he’d be happy there. He told her it was simple, because he had decided he would be.

The two stories are very similar.

Contentment, Happiness, Love. They are really two completely different things. But they share something in common – they are largely decisions one makes.

So many people act as though these are things they can find, things they can feel. If only X, then I would be happy. If only Y, then I would be content.  But they get X or Y, only to find that elusive feeling of happiness or contentment still eludes them. But, really, they are not *feelings.* They are a decision one makes. A mindset one has. One must decide  – choose – to be content, to be happy. (incidentally, I think this is why so many Americans find themselves in such debt. That big screen tv didn’t make me happy, but maybe a Blu-Ray player will.)

It is the same with love. Of course, we’ve all (hopefully) had that giddy, butterflies-in-the-stomach, thinking-about-him-all-the-time stuff, right? (And, for most of you, that was much more recently than it was for me, lol, see previous post about being married for longer than most I know… 😉 ) But after a time, that wears off. And love is no longer a feeling, it’s not exciting, it’s not even necessarily passionate.

It’s a decision. A frame of mind. A mindset. It’s purposeful. When one enters into the sacred covenental relationship we call marriage, one decides to love the person they are marrying. Hopefully, one doesn’t enter into this relationship hoping to find love, or to feel love.

I would propose that the same also holds true for passion, or whatever polite term you prefer for what I’m talking about here. At least in my life, it’s not always that Dharma and Greg type of passion. (Or insert your favorite TV show or movie here.) We’re not newlyweds, and we’re not in high school. Sometimes willingness has to suffice for actual desire. Sometimes one just has to decide. It’s not so much a feeling as it is a decision. I’m not trying to make this sound like drudgery, that’s not what I mean. I’m just saying that passion, spark, whatever… it’s no more happenstance than love or contentment. It’s often a mindful decision. I decide to feel passion, so I do. (Likewise, if I decide not to, I often do not.)

You might see more on this subject in the future. Randy and I have been discussing marriage in very general terms for several months now – starting towards the end of my pregnancy and continuing off and on during the few deep-ish conversations we’re able to have. (Because, you know, we both have to be awake and alert enough to be able to think at least relatively deep thoughts. And then not being interrupted every five seconds is nice, too.) It’s gotten me thinking, and I want to write some of these thoughts down, but so often when I sit down to write a deep blog post, I either am interrupted, or I just can’t make the thoughts come out in any logical sense.


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