I have a pen-pal. I know that it seems strange in a day-and-age where people are constantly chatting through Facebook, tweeting, SMSing and the like, and although my pen-pal and I email each other, instead of traditional pen-and-paper letters, the tone of our letters are still actual letters, rather than truncated texts typical of the high-speed inter-connected social media communication.
Something we do in our letters is to end them with a word or two that we feel summarizes our current state of mind, or the theme for our lives at that moment. I think this tradition was inspired by Eat, Pray, Love. The word I ended my latest letter with was "contentment."
It is a great thing to be content. My life is not perfect and there are things that I long for at times (a significant other?), but I'm generally happy. The Apostle Paul's words echo in my mind: ". . . I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in. I know how to be humble, and I know how to prosper. In each and every situation I have learned the secret of being full and of going hungry, of having too much and of having too little. I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Phillipians 4:11-13). Here is The Message's rendition of that text:
"I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."
No, I cannot honestly say that I am where Paul is, in that I have completely mastered the secret of being "quite content whatever my circumstances." Although I have been seriously poor and do not doubt that if I were to be in such a situation again that I will be okay because of the "One". What I can say is that although my life is not perfect at present, that I am content with where I am now. Yes, there is room for (personal) improvement; nevertheless, I am happy with my life. That is not something many people can say. I can. And I feel very privileged, very blessed, that I can.