Friday, March 07, 2008

Contentment and Maturity

When you move to a foreign country, there are a lot of problems to solve. Foremost are your unmet desires and expectations. We tend to get used to the idea that if I can just have my coffee at 6:00 am, I can be happy. In regard to this exact example, I'm a thinly veiled version of Dustin Hoffman in the movie "Rainman." In one scene, he frantically chants, "Five minutes to Wapner! Five minutes to Wapner!" He was addicted to "the Peoples' Court" and had to watch it everyday; otherwise, his world fell apart and he threw a major hissy-fit. Well, there's no Judge Wapner in Peru. There also isn't peanut butter (!), Frosted Mini Wheats, "The Amazing Race," or the major network news programs (e.g., ABC or NBC) from the states. As for T.V. news, we have CNN, which I watch but don't enjoy. (Is it me, or does Wolf Blitzer keep saying the same things over and over?) As a news junkie, I've been forced to develop a contentment strategy. As such, I read the news on the web and in our local (Spanish) newspaper. I'm learning to enjoy CNN in Spanish; which, thankfully, doesn't spend all day tallying how many delegates Hillary needs to catch up with Obama. Of course, missionaries 10 years ago didn't even have CNN, so I'm "content" with what I've got. Content is a key word, because it's a major part of maturity. One aspect of maturity is the ability to be content when you can't get what you want.

Paul, writing one of his supporting churches, said this about the missionary life in Philippians 4:10-13: "I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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."

Paul also wrote to his disciple, in 1 Timothy 6:6-8: "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."

Today, I can say in all honesty and without any struggle that I am more than content. I'm bordering on a full fledged happy. Of course, we're still eating the peanut butter we brought from the states. I believe that before we run out completely, I'll have matured sufficiently to endure it with contentment and aplumb.


Katrina Frazee said...

I felt the same way in central asia. At one point going between the only two english channels CNN and national geographic where we watched a child get eaten... you can only help but look at one another and say things like "please don't eat me" and "I've read about this in books, didn't look good." Regardless, you learn to not only be content but when you don't have it anymore and the people and the suddenly miss it very much and begin to pray for them harder than you can ever remember. I miss you guys loads and I seem to completely understand what your thinking. You are loved and prayed for!

Unknown said...

And as Cheryl Crow sings, "It's not having what you want; it's wanting what you've got"

I'll bring peanut butter when I come to visit. I can empathize with that loss.