This past week, I celebrated my second anniversary of living in Washington D.C. since I moved from the Sunshine State. I can’t believe it’s already been two years. I own more long sleeved undershirts than I ever thought I would. I even have two pairs of earmuffs—an item I never thought I would actually need in life.
I kind of view DC as any other city in the US, but if it were on drugs. It’s an exaggeration on all sides of a human. People move faster here. People are busier here. People actually wear suits every single day of the week. That is my definition of torture. That and being forced to go to a Bruno Mars concert. Those are my two definitions of torture.
To me, DC is a 16-year-old girl with her daddy’s credit card. People seem to have everything in their lives maxed out here. Their money (don’t even ask us what we’re paying for rent). Their stress levels. And their time. Constantly.
I bet there are more ulcers here per capita than most other places in the world. From what I’ve seen, most people forgot what the word “rest” meant a long time ago. They are maxed out. And if you have time to rest or leave work at 5:00, people have a tendency to view you like you’re someone who must not be serious about your career.
And yet for all their efforts, very few people I talk to actually enjoy the things that are maxing their lives out. I think I can count on one hand the amount of people I’ve met here that don’t despise their job. I am talking about DC just because I’m living here right now, but if we’re honest, this is probably the case for many people you know in your city as well, isn’t it?
Why are Americans so stressed? Why do Americans die sooner than people in other countries who do not have the conveniences that we have? Maybe we’re doing something wrong.
How do we find ourselves in these situations?
I get it. I know jobs are hard. I know you have to pay the bills. And I know I don’t have your job. I don’t have your boss who emails you at 11:00 p.m. and expects you to respond. I don’t have your team members who screw up everything you try to do. I know. Point your fingers at me all you want. I can take it. And also I can’t see you through the computer screen.
If you really look at your heart, do you think much of what may be stressing you out has to do with the fact that you’re trying to keep up with people around you? Or people you want to be like? When was the last time you were completely satisfied with where you were? Was it any time recently?
I’ve been thinking about contentment lately. I think everyone would say they’d want to be content. They’d say they want it, but they might not ever be it. That’s because contentment isn’t a season of life, it doesn’t just happen all of a sudden.
Contentment doesn’t hunt you down. You have to hunt it. Contentment is a choice.
Contentment can make Americans feel uneasy because it means we have a place of rest in our lives. And being able to rest scares us because it makes us feel like we’re not growing anymore or that we must have given up on our ambitions. But true contentment might be the greatest goal to reach.
Contentment can lay its head down at night and sleep knowing it has purpose. Contentment doesn’t have to go back for seconds at the buffet line. Contentment isn’t laziness, it’s rest. However, it is also a result of discipline.
A lot of people like the verse Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” It’s a verse we use to give us a confidence to pull off something bigger than ourselves. To ace the exam. To get the job promotion. To win the big game. And I think that verse is great for all of those things, but I think there’s more to it than just being a pep-rally verse.
Let’s look at the verses that come directly before it:
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
It seems to me that leading up to the power verse 13, Paul is mostly talking about choosing to be content no matter what situation he is in. He’s also saying that contentment isn’t an easy thing to get a hold on, but it is possible through Christ. I think we could even interpret Philippians 4:13 as saying, “I can be content through Him who strengthens me.”
Are you tired? Are you tired of trying to keep up with the Jones’s? Me too. You could always try to keep up with the Tones’s. I’m not moving very fast.
Contentment may never make the cover of Forbes Magazine. Contentment may never drive the newest cars and wear the most expensive clothes. But contentment doesn’t mean you settle for less, it just means that you have security that any amount of money can’t buy.
I’m not telling everyone to kill their ambitions or their dreams, I’m just wondering if maybe we could be getting much better sleep if we’d learn to let a few things go. Success doesn’t define us, but maybe we haven’t been properly defining success.