A Content Complainer

July 29, 2009

There’s a bunch of houses for sale in my neighborhood. A couple of them are actually getting sold. Normally, this is the time of year that people sell their houses and move into bigger, better houses. I’ve always heard this phrase from people who are moving that they just ‘outgrew’ their old place, and need to move up.

I always got a sneaking suspicion when I helped people move that what they meant to say was that all the unnecessary, useless crap they never use outgrew their home, and they need to purchase a bigger junk/human storage facility.

This year, since people aren’t moving, they have to stave off the urge to move by having extra big garage sales. There is an incredible surplus of Bowflex laundry organization systems for sale.

Of course, no one’s really downsizing if everyone in the neighborhood is buying each others’ old stuff.

Summer is also the time (besides New Year’s, and right after eating at Denny’s) for people to look at themselves in disgust and try to improve how they look, right after regretfully selling their Bowflex laundry systems. A bunch of people in my neighborhood are trying this new fad called “jogging.” I believe it’s jogging or “yogging.” it might be a soft j. I’m not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild.

I’ve been going back to the gym. Not because I care about being able to lift heavy things. No part of my everyday life requires me to lift various denominations of steel weights. I go there because I don’t really like how I look, and I think if I put myself through enough pain, I will look better. I don’t even really enjoy the gym. It’s all vanity.

It’s funny how it’s so hard to just find contentment. No matter what people have, they aren’t happy. Doesn’t matter if you’re overweight or skinny and lanky like me, no one’s just happy with how they look. It’s hard to be content with our jobs, our churches, our possessions, ourselves.

And I’m the worst.

I think one of the few benefits of the economy we’re in is that people may take a little break from the rat race. Rather than looking for a bigger house, people empty out their own home and fix it up a little bit. Rather than buying the next best thing, people stay content with the stuff they have a wee bit longer.

Where is the quest for “better” justified, and where is it better to be content? People should be content in their marriages, or their churches. But that contentment also includes fighting the good fight for better churches and marriages, constantly reforming.

I think I come across to some readers as a complainer, as someone who isn’t happy with anything, and wants to ruin everything for everyone. The truth is that though I struggle with my own unmet ambitions and discontentment with myself, in reality my life is very worthy of contentment and happiness, and I’m a pretty positive guy.

However, there are plenty of things out there that are not worthy of contentment. And one of the things I love most, the church, is fraught with them. The church is full of frightening and funny things that Christ did not intend. So I like to think I write as one unimportant soldier fighting his little part in the good fight for something worth fighting for, warning about and laughing at the stuff that deserves it.

Some people don’t like complainers. They prefer that everyone just be positive at times, no matter what becuase it’s a mark of spirituality…or it’s just easier. Sometimes, I feel the same way, because I’m actually an easy going guy who likes to be an eternal optimist and doesn’t like being brought down by a Buzz Killington.

But complaining has led to a lot of good things, like the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, or the end of slavery or America itself! (Along with a bunch of other places.) Discontent with the status quo has its place. So Christians are kind of stuck with both, contentment and complaining, both in their rightful places!

I have loads of contentment in my wife. But our marriage is a work in progress.
My contentment is in Christ. But His church is a work in progress.

What do you fight for? What’s still a work in progress in your life? What do you find contentment in?