Contentment and aspiration

This adorable visitor was content to rest on our deck railing for a few minutes. Yorktown, April 2015

This adorable visitor was content to rest with us one recent sunny morning.
Our back yard in Yorktown, Virginia, April 2015

“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.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. I pray you are getting better each day.🛐😍🛐

    • Thank you, Cherie. I got your lovely card today. ❤

  2. bendichoso

    Thank you, Mrs. Julia 🙏 … I love the “flying and resting” quote. I wrestle with this daily 😇

    • Yes, balance is always a challenge, isn’t it? But one we are blessed to have.

  3. Good morning, Julia!
    I remember a discussing with my son, some years ago, when he was still a young teen. We were discussing joy, and he said “God doesn’t want us to be happy, He wants us to be content.” I thought that was an interesting insight. It sounded a little depressing, to me, but in the context of your post it seems in line.

    • I would refer you to the fascinating book of Ecclesiastes — lots of lessons we might prefer NOT to learn 🙂 but unquestionably full of wisdom. Much harm has been done in the obsessive quest for happiness by those who very often fail to achieve it. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I tend to agree with your son.

      • Good morning, Julia!
        And now that particular son (Erik) and his cat, Dot, are traveling from California to Pennsylvania in a big orange van (plus trailer), looking to start a new life while paying less $$ in monthly rent.

        • That sounds like a smart move to me. I will always cherish our years in central and northern California, but I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to go back there anymore. And I never thought I’d say that. Pennsylvania is a beautiful state. I think he might love it there.

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