The question must be asked– is courageous contentment an actual thing?
Yes. Of course.
But I also sort of made it up. Let me explain.
I stood at my bookshelf recently and stared at the contents. This particular bookshelf contains all my favorite books, lovingly collected over the years. Since books are my favorite non-human things ever, that particular shelf contains my favorite favorites.
“What do all these books have in common?” I asked myself. I tapped my finger to my lips and made my thinking face.
It took me weeks of thinking to come up with a good answer. The books range far and wide, from favorite Bible studies to frugal living books. I have budget and financial advice, decorating books, and memoirs from Amber C. Haines and Julia Child. Books on simple living teach me everything from how to weave a basket to how to live like the Amish (maybe those thoughts are redundant?). Geography on that shelf ranges from France to Mississippi, Kalamazoo to New York.
You can see how one idea is hard to fit around all the subject matter, can’t you?
Finally it hit me. Every book I own and love is about making the very best life out of the resources we’ve been given. They’re all about choosing the courageous option, then finding contentment within it.
For example. Let’s examine some of my friends who have chosen to homeschool their children. That was their courageous choice. Being a home educating family requires lots of prioritizing and time. At least one parent needs to stay home, or work random hours around the children’s schedules. It often means financial sacrifice and a ton of extra effort. It always means choosing contentment with the kids being home all the time and the parenting challenges of being half teacher, half parent.
See? It’s courage and contentment, all rolled together.
Our family has chosen differently. We looked for a small public school district like Eric and I each attended, and I’ve worked outside the home since our daughter was six weeks old. Our family focuses on generous giving and travel. At the moment Eric and I are both working our faces off to save for another trip to Italy, and we’re hoping to take the family to Rome next summer. We’ll keep you updated on our progress.
Taking kids to another country takes courage. Saving the money to get there takes a lot of contentment, because it also means we have to stick to our budget. That means we don’t get to eat out a lot and we always shop for clothes at the resale shop first. Our cars are about a hundred years old and they’re a little bit pitiful.
I’m not sure where your life requires courageous contentment. You might be staring at one big decision, not knowing if you have the moxie it’s going to require. What will it do to your finances? Your family? Your sanity?
Who knows? It might be great, or it might all go horribly wrong. But that’s half the fun of life, honestly. We never know, but each day is another chance to wake up and balance our courage and our contentment with the resources we have at the moment.
And we can meet here, to support one another. This is a community of brave, intentional humans. Whether you’re about to homeschool or travel the globe, quit your job to raise chickens or take care of your elderly parents, this is your place.
We are your people. And we’re glad to have you here!
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. (Matthew 16:24-27, NLT)
(Some of us are already on Jesus’ path, courageously picking up our cross and following him to a place where contentment has nothing to do with what we own. Whether we’ve been Christians for decades or have never stepped into a church, I think Christ has a lot to teach us all.
If you have any questions about my faith, I’d love to talk to you. No pressure, of course. Sit back, read along, and decide if what we’re doing here makes any sense at all. If the questions won’t leave you in peace, then email me: jessie at jessieclemence dot com. )