Satisfied Here and Now
Some years ago, when I thought about traveling overseas to live for the first time, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was enjoying my life in America, but there was definitely a desire in me for more. I wanted more than I had, more love and more money and more adventure. And I knew it had to be out there, just waiting for me to find it.
I recognize the same desire for something more in the children I work with. They are completely content with the toys they are playing with, until they see a toy someone else is playing with. I love watching their eyes grow big and then invariably they reach out to grab that toy. Or they are completely content in class, with me their teacher, until they catch a glimpse of mom or dad out in the hall. Then the tears start coming and they reach for the door.
It seems people are rarely satisfied with what they have. A few years ago, a new show came on TV that played upon people’s desire for more. Deal or No Deal. Millions watched as player after player passed up good deals on the hope that more money was hidden in a different case. It was amazing watching people pass up a guaranteed 200,000 dollars for a rare chance at one million. But nearly everyone did, even when the odds for winning that one million were horrible and I never saw a single one win.
It is not just money and toys that fail to satisfy. It even seems that beautiful women can’t satisfy. Tiger Woods was married to a beautiful woman, but apparently she wasn’t enough for him according to the news.
This tale is as old as time. In the Garden, Eve struggled with this very same temptation of desiring more. Walking in the Garden of Eden with God and naming the animals and enjoying her husband was not enough. When tempted with the fruit of the tree that was forbidden (a temptation she had been living with until this point perfectly fine) and told that it would make her like the gods, she looked at that fruit and saw that “it was desired to make one wise.” She wanted more than she had. She wanted to be like God, with all of His knowledge.
I am not sure if any of us are immune to this desire for more. If I offered you a beautiful house twice the size of yours for free, I doubt you’d be able to pass it up. And if I was offered a pay raise that doubled my salary, I wouldn’t turn it down. “I’m sorry boss, but I just don’t want the money…”
No, we are not immune to the desire, but looking it in the face and saying, “You know what? What I have is pretty good.” is the biggest key to being satisfied. Swami Sivananda, the Indian yoga monk said “there is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment.” It is true. We will never reach an end to desires. There will always be something new that comes along that makes us lick our lips and makes us forget what we have. Frederick Keonig said “we tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” That is contentment.
But how do we become content with what we have? I can’t answer that for every person, but I know what does it for me. Paul, the great writer of most of the New Testament Epistles said in a letter to the Phillipian church “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.” For Paul, his contentment was knowing God and knowing that God would be with him through every circumstance in life. Solomon, the wise king of Israel said in Proverbs, “The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”
In a world of never enough, I have to remind myself that I have the most important thing already.
© Seth Crossman