Pursuing Contentment

Pursuing Contentment

In all honesty, I’m finding it really difficult to be content where I am at the moment. Laziness and lethargy all too easily creep into my mindset along with the knowledge that, “I really should be studying right now.” And that gets me daydreaming about all the things that I would rather be doing and all the things I’m discontent with right now.

Things like, I wish this exam was just over and done with so that summer could officially be here.

Summer. That gets me thinking about sunshine and shorelines and walking barefoot on sandy beaches and ice cold peach tea. I think about swimming pools, road trips, festivals, catching up on my mountain of To Be Read books, afternoons filled with taking photos of dandelions and bubbles, or trying out all of those paintings that I just haven’t gotten around to yet. I think about the people that I want to see, the places that I want to visit, and the things I want to do, and before I know it my entire perspective switches.

I start thinking things like, But now it’s raining. It’s cold. I can’t go to the beach or catch up on that hobby. I haven’t sorted out my summer job. I haven’t prepared for the next year of uni as much as I would’ve liked. I haven’t even studied for this upcoming exam that’s in two days.

All of the things I look forward to start seeming very far away, making the present seem boring and dreary, creating restlessness.

The restlessness is what really gets to me. Most of the crazy and spontaneous things I’ve done in my life are a direct result of feeling restless. Maybe it’s my way of procrastinating (because let me just say the only time I’ve ever spontaneously decided that joining a fitness class was a good idea was when I had 5 deadlines due in the next week), or maybe it’s God’s way of telling me something’s off and I should sort it out. Sometimes I don’t know which it is, so I’ll try making new salads, doodle in children’s coloring books, contemplate dyeing my hair, and take way too many naps (unfortunately there is such a thing).

But if I get past the procrastination side of it, and decide to actually think through what God could be trying to tell me, I’m reminded of a few things.

It is not up to me to decide which days of my life are better than others. I can look forward to summer all I want, but it’s not going to make the exam time pass any faster. It’s like what my strategy was on Christmas Eve when I was younger. I finished Christmas Eve dinner as fast as I could, ran upstairs, changed into pjs, and dove into the blankets on my bed, thinking that the faster I got the sleep, the faster Christmas morning would come.

If I’m not careful, I can use that same mentality with other aspects of my life as well. Oh, well if I just hurry through these last two weeks, summer will start and I can begin doing what I actually want to do. Oh if I just hurry through this, I can be happy faster.

And if I realize this is what I’m actually thinking, I discover how backwards that is.

Time is time. It’s not going to speed up, so my happy future can come sooner, or slow down, so that
exam I’m dreading stays further away. It’s the same all of the time, and no amount of wishing can change that. It’s also temporary. I can remember last summer, and how by the end of it I was wishing for very different things than I am now. I was waiting for the time that I could come back to school, see uni friends again, get back into routine, wear scarves and sweaters, and drink hot chocolates.

And now I’m on the other side, waiting yet again. It’s a circle. And if we’re not careful, days, months, and years can pass in this endless waiting game. We get so caught up in what we think will make us happy in the future, hurry up to try and get there, and are we satisfied with it when we do? Or do we move on to the next thing we think will make us happy again, to postpone that restless feeling.

I’m caught in this circle more often than I’d like to admit. Because no, I don’t particularly enjoy exam term, deadlines, revising all the time, or cold and rainy weather. However, I can say that it is a mistake if I try to rush it. Because the thing is, it’s not about being happy. I wonder how much time I’ve wasted while I’ve been wishing I was somewhere else, doing something else, or why I was able to convince myself that I wouldn’t be happy until then. It’s a convincing lie.

I’d much rather get out of that mindset altogether and pursue contentment instead. Because contentment brings a deeper joy that happiness on its own never touches. Contentment is resting in trust and faith that God handpicked and placed me exactly where I am right now, and who am I to overlook the present and chase after another promise on the horizon? God knows me. He knows what I love, and the times that I look forward too, and he’s already given so many of them to me. I simply don’t want to spend my days now, wishing I was living different ones that will come in their own time. I want every day to count.

And I’m starting with the beach. I’m currently about a 25-minute walk from Southsea beach and somehow I just hadn’t made the time to walk there until this past Saturday with some friends. We even took a detour and spent time in the Rock Gardens (which I didn’t even know were there), and of course it started raining so we only spent a grand total of ten minutes on the beach itself. But there were silly photos, crazy cool clouds, plus a coffee shop visit at the end, among many laughs and I loved every minute of it. Definitely a step in the right direction for really living exactly where I’m at. Plus, after all of that, it was a lot easier to face the “I need to study tomorrow” concept. I highly recommend it.

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