Contentment and aspiration
“We are not to make the ideas of contentment and aspiration quarrel, for God made them fast friends. A man may aspire, and yet be quite content until it is time to raise; and both flying and resting are but parts of one contentment.” — Henry Ward Beecher
I think I understand what Beecher was getting at far more now than I would have twenty years ago. Admittedly, there’s a fine line between contentment and passive acceptance of the status quo, but we all have known people who manage to walk that line gracefully.
Too often, high ideals and lofty goals are coupled with impatience, frustration, and egocentric pride. It’s fine for us to want to make things better, but if we catch ourselves thinking we are the only ones who can do it right, that’s a warning flag. If we expect instant results, or are continually criticizing or undermining other people’s efforts, we may be passing from aspiration to envy or blind ambition.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain,” Paul tells Timothy, and anyone who knows the balm of being truly contented will surely agree. There was a time when I might have mistaken contentment for timidity, apathy or even a wee bit of laziness. Now the word calls to mind more admirable traits: faith, patience, humility, self-control and joy.
Most people, it seems, tend toward one side or the other when it comes to ambition and contentment. No matter which side of the fence you may find yourself occupying, I wish you a lifetime of the delights of both flying and resting — and the wisdom to know when to do which.