the state of being content

I am trying to embrace contentment. To truly embrace being happy with what I have and the circumstances in which I find myself.

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Which means I am trying to embrace this apartment as home.

This apartment with the hot water heater in my closet. This apartment with no dishwasher or garbage disposal, with barely usable cabinets, and horribly inefficient refrigerator. This apartment with a tub that doesn’t drain well, with a porch that fills with water when it rains and then floods the downstairs neighbor’s kitchen . This apartment that is crammed full with our stuff, especially in the spare bedroom that doubles as a garage (and has boxes of my teaching materials piled to the ceiling).

I have struggled to embrace this apartment since the day we signed the lease. Our one year in our other apartment turned into four, and I kept consoling myself by saying that the next place would be better.

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And then we moved 1,000 miles away to a town where good, affordable rentals are in high demand but low supply. We stepped out in faith, which included trusting that God would provide the money to pay our bills (since we’ve both left “stable” jobs in the last couple of years in order to pursue a dream). So we chose the budget-friendly option (not to mention, we only had a weekend to find a place and sign a lease, and this was one of two available options at the time).

Because of this, I have refused to settle in. I have not hung a single picture on the wall, “because hopefully we’re not staying in this apartment through the winter.” I have refused to be creative in trying to find homes for all the little random things, “because I just can’t make it work!”

And I have complained. Loudly. And often. Because I think I am entitled to something more…just because I exist.

At the beginning of July, I was feeling convicted on this subject, and looked up Scripture on contentment and thankfulness. I even wrote down verses on cards, but haven’t sought to apply them with any sort of diligence.

My perspective is (very) slowly starting to shift, though. I’ve read blog posts by others who have honestly wrestled with the same issue, and found encouragement from them. I have visited with people in a home that was cozy but had a warm, well-lived-in feeling.  And there were no apologies for what it lacked materially because the hearts of the hosts were hospitable and generous to share what they have. There was no sense that anything could be considered lacking.

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My home will be hospitable if my heart is–even if my furniture is mismatched and well-worn.  Even if my space is cramped.  Even if comfortable chairs are in short supply.  Even if my bath towels are stored on an open shelf, visible from the living room couch. Really, does it matter? Not all that much.

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(By the way, I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I have a lot of beauty around me to appreciate. Every single day.)

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