Saturday, May 19, 2012


A friend directed me toward another blog that spoke about contentment and it spurred some thoughts.  The blog is a neat one that I have seen before: ZenHabits.  It was interesting to read, from the author's perspective, what has brought him contentment in his life.  One thought that jumped out at me was, "Instead, learn to be content with the person you love, just as they are. This isn’t always easy, as we are usually trained (by our well-intentioned but never-satisfied parents, and others around us) to do just the opposite — to try to change people"  This caught my attention, because I have noted, in many therapy sessions, that one contributing factor to client's issues is unresolved issues from their family of origin.  In other words, I've seen plenty of adults and teens struggle with their self-worth because they felt like what they did was never good enough for their parents... or believing that it was their responsibility to make someone else happy... or trying to manage another person's feelings because they didn't want to be a disappointment to that other person... or.... you get the picture.

It made me ask myself if, as a parent, I encourage my children to embrace the changes that are happening to them naturally as they grow and develop while pushing and stretching them enough to help them learn to balance being content with who they are and trying to improve and better themselves.

I thought to myself, 'I'll work on trying to encourage my kids to acknowledge the changes that come their way every day; their body and brain development, school events and issues... etc and be accepting of who they are on the inside, which doesn't change.'  But that isn't true, is it?  Everything about us, inside and out, changes every day.  Every moment, really... but we aren't attuned to changes at that level.  The reality is that just as our outer self changes, so does our inner self.  Personality, core beliefs, values... they are all subject to change.  I am not the same person I was several years ago. 

So I am left with one of life's great mysteries: how do we walk the fine line of acknowledging and accepting personal change while reconciling accepting ourselves as we are and finding contentment?

THEN, my thoughts turned spiritual and I reflected that my journey with God has been one of constant change.  God loves me as I am, but is not content with keeping me as I am.  Instead, He works daily on shaping me and molding me and sometimes dragging me kicking and yelling to be more like Jesus.  It made me think that maybe contentedness, like happiness, is not a goal but a by product of godliness.  I thought of 1 Timothy 5:6, which says, "...godliness with contentment is great gain."  The passage there is referring more to money and possessions, but I think also speaks to our general sense of self-worth.

So, here is a letter of encouragement:

Dear child,
          I have loved you since before you were born.  Your arrival in my life marks a time of great joy for me.  I delight in you every day as I watch you and love you.  I want you to know that I understand that your life journey is going to include times of difficulty and struggle, but your struggling with difficult events, situations and people does not diminish my love for you.  In fact, a person's ability to adapt and change should be encouraged.  Different situations will call for different responses and thinking that there is only one way to do something will only lead to frustration when that 'one way' does not generate the results you want.  As a loving parent, so often, I just want to tell you how to do things my way... the way that seems right to me, from my perspective.  Truthfully, I've figured out a lot of situations and I wish that sometimes you would ask me for help, but I want to respect your ability to learn and grow for yourself, so I try to guide you in less intrusive ways.  I believe that a good parent should spend a lot of time teaching and guiding, and I've tried... but sometimes our viewpoints have clashed and you don't see things my way... at first.  As you grow and develop, I know that one area you'll have to figure out is how to be your own person while remaining connected to your first identity, which was as a member of a family.
I hope you'll be able to love how you look, knowing that beauty is more than just your body's appearance.
I hope you'll be able to be confident that you are worth having as a friend and not take others' inability to see it bring you down.
I hope you'll learn sooner, rather than later, that it is okay to want a thing but when you convince yourself that you need a thing, that 'need' gains power over you.
I hope that you will strive for godliness and, in doing so, will come to discover that happiness and contentment will follow when you seek to deepen your relationship with me.

love eternally,
your Heavenly Father.

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