The forest in spite of the trees

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.
James Oppenheim

I've been struggling lately with my own tendency toward discontent. I see my own feelings mirrored in the whining of my oldest son, so much my clone.

When Ethan reports in an aggrieved tone that so-and-so in his class has a new ipad and this other one went on a cruise, I don't react well. I become annoyed at him, angry at the entitled brats, and exasperated at myself. Five minutes later, I find myself wishing I could buy him an ipad.

I've been feeling a desperate need to teach him how to be content. But how can I model this, when apparently I haven't learned it myself?

Thanksgiving, I thought. That will do the trick. We'll count our (many!) blessings. We'll name them one by one! We'll feel better! We'll all get some perspective here.

We tried.

I try. I purpose to put aside all whiny, unattractive behavior. The seal breaks off the dishwasher (again) and through clenched teeth I mutter my mantra, "Give thanks". The little things become so heavy, unrelenting. My resentment stacking up like falling snow. A lack of cupboard space reduces me to tears.

Three things helped me a little this past Sunday. A Fernando Ortega song, better than any sermon. An article I read after googling for help. Is there anything more pathetic than trying to save your child's soul with Google?

This rather random article was full of so many good reminders. Once again, I'm measuring my success by the wrong standards. Money and possessions. Comfort and ease. Sometimes it is all I can see.

Contentment is not gratification. We don't have to have everything we want. It is finding satisfication in what we do have. In savoring what is ours.

Sunday night I turned on 60 minutes and there was a segment about homeless children in Florida. They interviewed a girl who lived with her brother and father in a truck. Every morning they try to find a new gas station bathroom in which to brush their teeth before heading off to school. Her spirit was so strong and hopeful in spite of her circumstances. I was ashamed.

So, here I am. Surrounded by good things, a recipient of so much grace. Getting my focus back on those savor-worthy moments whenever they arise.


gretchen said...

Wow, great post Liane.

Love you,

Anonymous said...

Well written...I must be related..L. is constantly complaining that the other kids in her class are going off to other countries for vacation but as usual we're staying here...Hard to know what to say sometimes...perspective always helps. K,xo