From Your New Money Mindset, by Brad Hewitt and James Moline, 2015, Tyndale House Publishers.
Contentment and peace can come by managing our expectations.
I recall a video clip from some years ago telling the story of a wise young woman whose insights into wanting produced a beautiful result. It showed a young woman sitting with a television documentary host. She looked to be in her early thirties, blonde and soft-spoken. Her eyes and facial structure made it apparent that the young woman lived with Down syndrome.
After a few moments of preparation by the TV personality, the interview began. This woman had recently married a man who also lived with Down syndrome. Since marriage among Down’s persons is rare, their lives became a curiosity.
The interviewer wanted to know how they managed. Were they happy? How did they pay their bills? Since they couldn’t drive, how did they get to work? They would never produce biological children because of their agreement to be sterilized before the wedding. They lacked the intellectual capacity to dive into conversations about politics, religion, and global warming. And the great American dream of home ownership seemed far beyond their reach. How could they possibly be satisfied?
The woman paused for a moment after the barrage of inquiries about her happiness. She looked the interviewer in the eyes and said slowly and confidently, “I am happy because I always get what I want.”
Dumbfounded, the interviewer went back over the litany of things the woman and her spouse would never have. With incredible poise, this young woman repeated her point: “I always get what I want. But I know WHAT to want.”
The young woman explained that her happiness was rooted in realistic expectations for her life. She didn’t believe she would be the next Nobel laureate or even a highly skilled white-collar worker. On the contrary, because she had settled in to her place on the planet rather well, she was able to live in contentment.
Can you say that you know what to want? Out of her wisdom and joy, this woman shared the secret to living at peace.
“If this life were heavenly and angelic, nothing bad would ever happen and there would be no injustice. But this is not the way it is because our sinful nature cannot do anything but sin and be foolish. Anyone who does not know this has not yet learned about the world. We should think of this life as though we were in a shipwreck or a fire, laboring to salvage what we can, and with that, be thankful and content. You are foolish if you despair of everything when it does not go your way.”
–Martin Luther, “Commentary on Ecclesiastes,” Luther’s Works Volume 15, pages 124-125 (paraphrased).
“When you pursue happiness, you flee contentment.”
Psalm 23:1 — The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 — Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
II Timothy 6:6-8 — Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Hebrews 13:5 — Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
John 16:33 — (Jesus said), ““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
O Lord, support us all the day long of this troubled life, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed; and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Book of Common Prayer