On Contentedness

My heart is not proud;
  my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
  or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself.
Psalm 131:1-2a NLT

Antique White or Ivory Lace? Do you realize how many various shades of white paint you can choose from? I brought home at least 15 different swatches to find the perfect shade for our living room. This will be the third color the walls have seen since we moved in six years ago. You know what’s funny? The walls were white – or Bone Satin – when we bought the place. I can’t seem to find the right “aura” for this particular room. Yellow was short lived, and the current brown is just so dark. I need light, airy space in there…I think.

I’m not going to pretend that I follow the ancient psalm above. My resolutions for 2013 weren’t publicly announced, though I did tell myself that I would practice being content with my life. I’ve been a worrier for as long as I remember, and trusting the Lord has always been a difficult task. So when I poorly jerryrigged a new rod and set of curtains above our big living room window today, I nearly broke down with shame when Steven came home to find my disastrous attempt. He was able to pull them directly off the wall, and they clattered to the floor. I was so ready for a new look that I didn’t care to make sure it was safe.

Here’s the thing. I like our house, but it’s certainly not my dream house. It’s been a wonderful place for us as a newly married couple with furry friends. Sometimes a tiny kitchen is cozy and quaint, and original hardwoods, glass tile and Formica are sought-after in certain markets. While I love the features of our home, I’ve struggled over the years with being happy about its layout. Entertaining people in a small house can be a challenge, and add a toddler to the mix… you get the idea. So small updates, like my curtain and paint idea, have been my go-to remedy for rekindling that first house love.

Sure, you can tell me that it’s all good, I was just excited about decorating, right? Right. I am. And don’t get me wrong, we will install them (properly) soon enough, and we probably will get a wall color picked out eventually. But the point is this: my focus isn’t aligned. I’m not practicing contentedness.

I could easily put the blame to Pinterest or other social media. Everyone posts happy news because they want to celebrate with others, and why not? I do it, too. “Yay! I just saved $173849128374 on my grocery bill!” or “Hooray! Look at these before and after photos of my closet organization!” Some friends have good baby news, some are building a new house, some are going on vacation or bought a new car. While I am happy and rejoice along with them, I know that I’ve taken it to heart in a negative way. I’ve been downright jealous.

Surrounded by family and friends, a wonderful job, a sturdy roof over my head and reliable car to drive, I still long for more. Once the curtains are hung in a newly painted living room, the sting will likely lessen for a while. Then, inevitably, it will creep back. I’ve got to get a handle on this contentedness thing before it consumes. What kind of example will I be for Wes if he sees my unhappiness? Will he think that his love isn’t enough? That things are good for only a little while?

Oh, dear. I guess I’ll start small – like, with the living room. If it doesn’t turn out like a photo on houzz.com, it will be alright. After all, the whole goal for my white wall haven is to provide a feeling of calm and quiet. For Pete’s sake, be still, Leah.

Posted: March 17th, 2013
Categories: Leah
Tags: ,
Comments: 4 Comments.
Comment from Nikki - March 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm

First of all, I always go with Pure Altra White because nothing else seems quite white enough for me lol. Secondly, I totally get what you are saying about contentment, it is a beast I just cannot seem to overcome. I realized a few years ago that part of the problem is that we all desire to be “happy”. We don’t quite realize that “happiness” is like a vacations destination, we visit whenever we get the chance but it was never designed to be a permanent residence. Contentment, on the other hand, is meant to be our home. Often times I believe we fail to accept contentment because it isn’t as flashy or luxurious as happiness. Unfortunately, by refusing to make our home in contentment we end up inadvertently driving around in circles on a beltway of unhappiness. The trouble I have is: if you can’t live on vacation and driving around in circles gets you no where then why is it so hard to just go home?

Comment from Leah - March 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Maybe because just going home is the mundane thing to do. It’s a terrible predicament, isn’t it? Thanks for the understanding words. And I’ll have to look into Pure Altra!

Pingback from The Shattucks – You cannot stop us; yes, we are still going. - November 20, 2013 at 9:31 pm

[…] this time last year, I was not content. There were things I wanted to change about everything. I complained about the size of our house. I […]

Pingback from The Shattucks – You cannot stop us; yes, we are still going. - June 21, 2015 at 3:07 pm

[…] little house that we’ve called home for 8 years. This little house that, when we moved in, I never fully embraced and thought of a temporary location, truly began to feel like “home” over the last […]


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