Contentment - The state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.
We’re all looking for it and it means something different to each of us. The word equivalent of a fingerprint, if you will. Each definition unique and taking on its own shape and form. Our thoughts of what it means are constantly changing and evolving through different stages in our lives. It’s not just a thought, or a short-term feeling, but more of an authenticated situation we strive for that produces long-term satisfaction.
While writing this I tasked myself with peeling back the layers and differences between happiness and what gives me sustained contentment. Happiness to me may consist of hearing a favorite song from my childhood, having my favorite dinner or watching a good movie. While we enjoyed these at the moment they took place, and they made us temporarily happy, it doesn’t take long for the song or movie to end and our level of contentment most likely isn’t advanced moving forward. While I personally believe these little bouts of happiness are imperative for our short- and long-term well-being, contentment is most likely unaffected.
Often times I believe contentment is incorrectly intertwined with complacency. We may fear if we are too content with our current situation then we aren’t striving to become a better version of ourselves. Our thoughts may tell us that if being content goes hand-in-hand with complacency then why work towards it. I admit this perfectly describes my thought process for a large portion of my life. Looking back now I realize how unhealthy that was, both mentally and spiritually. The time I spent only fixating on the future and not enjoying the current moment, can never be recaptured. It is possible to be content and at the same time aspire to achieve more, be it professionally, physically or spiritually.
You may have noticed I freely listed a few things that supply happiness for me but have not yet touched on what I personally believe contentment is. I find it is much more difficult to describe and wrap our arms around as it often times isn’t tangible. It’s possible some people may not agree with that statement as their definition may partially consist of material things they can reach out and touch. While this can be true, as each person rightfully defines their own definition, some of the most truly content people I’ve ever been associated with don’t necessarily have the highest net-worth or collection of things. This isn’t to say material items can’t bring contentment for some but more of a belief that material satisfaction is less important to our overall well-being than a consistent positive mindset and the relationships we foster.
If contentment is so great then how do we find it? Can we just hope to one day have it? Will we get it at a certain age? Do you already truly have it? Is it tangible? The answer is different for everybody but it is out there and it’s for each one of us to continually look for it. We can begin by taking the first step by creating a plan and following where our spirit is leading us. As cliché as it sounds we owe it to ourselves to find not only what allows for bursts of happiness but also what helps fully complete us as individuals on a more permanent level. Although I’m cognizant of the search, sometimes it’s more elusive than others. My reliance on spiritual faith brings me contentment as does a feeling of self-independence. I do know for certain when my family and those closest to me are healthy and I think of my future with them, I am truly content. The thought of completing the ever-changing bucket list of adventures I’ve created over the years, pales in comparison to a genuine connection of the soul that takes place with those I love and cherish the most. Here’s to finding your own slice of contentment – Onward!
Responsibility is often viewed as an obligation to a task or duty. That responsibility can take the form of many things like taking out the trash, showing up to work, or guarding the nuclear launch codes. Directly tied to responsibilities are consequences. Consequences, despite their negative connotation, can be good or bad. Failure to meet responsibilities can lead to stinky homes, unemployment, or- well, let’s just avoid nuclear annihilation all together. But just like consequences, responsibilities are not simple.
The word ‘responsibility’ is a complex word that can be both a positive and a negative. One can exhibit responsibility by any number of things. Examples include walking the dog, paying bills on time, or proper containment of a plutonium-239 reactor. Responsibilities can be good and can be a sign of trust and of adulthood. But, when life goes awry we must take responsibility for our actions. Even when we try to be the most responsible, irresponsibility can occur. It is conceivable to do everything right, yet still make mistakes. Well-intentioned ideas may not pan out.
As an enterprising young man, I like to think of myself as a responsible individual. I enjoy being entrusted with responsibility, and I feel like most people - in some way or another - also feel the same. It makes me warm to feel entrusted with a job or a project, and even warmer to see a positive resolution. So, whenever things do not turn out, I feel especially bad. Taking responsibility for projects that do not yield as expected was one of the most difficult lessons to learn. My personal perfectionistic and professional nature did not allow for tasks to fail or any result other than as planned. And maybe there are people out in the world who do not fear failure as I, but I do not know any. It is when the outcome is failure that I find it is most useful to take responsibility. True character is shown in those moments when responsibility is not a positive but a negative.
If the ability to take responsibility for one’s action is indicative of good character, then with great responsibility comes great power.
Liam Larson is a 19-year-old college student at Oklahoma Baptist University pursuing a degree in Music Composition with Honors. This Shawnee-native has been involved with Band and Music Theatre at SHS and OBU. After college, he hopes to find a career writing music. A personal goal is always finding the humor in life.
The word faithfulness has been on the tip of my tongue for some time now. I realize it takes on a different meaning from person to person; however, to me it’s power posts a strong presence in my reality. This characteristic of our Lord keeps my mind and emotions sound. His faithfulness is imprinted throughout my life, miracles big and small. Creating a faith-filled legacy commands being faithful to God.
Wikipedia states faithfulness is the concept of unfailingly remaining loyal to someone or something and putting that loyalty into consistent practice regardless of extenuating circumstances. If you have been on this earth long, I bet you have had one or a few of extenuating circumstances. How did you react? Where did you turn? For me, I turn to God. Remaining faithful to God, has been the key to seeing God’s faithfulness in my life. Let me explain.
Three years ago, my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and my world came to a screeching halt. My relationship with the Lord was strong but boy I needed extra strength, discernment, peace and comfort. My dad was extra special to me, he truly unconditionally loved me and his family. We were both in turmoil over his health and situation. You see, my dad’s legacy of hard work was on the line because of some poor choices he had made, choices that were out of my control. He had allowed sin to take root in part of his life and it was jeopardizing everything. I had never experienced this type of suffering in my lifetime nor had he. All I could do was pray without ceasing for God’s will and redemption. Throughout this painful journey of his illness and passing, God’s word and faithfulness endured.
As my sweet friend Bridgette and I were discussing God’s faithfulness, I was reminded that God wants us to partner with him. Let’s think about this, in a marital relationship there are two people involved. It’s difficult to maintain a healthy relationship if it’s one sided. God is sitting in the background waiting for us to partner with him. He doesn’t force himself on us, he just asks that we chose to have a relationship with him through Jesus Christ. I chose God. I chose to partner with God. I chose to build a relationship with him through consistent prayer, quiet time and studying scripture in the Bible. As my dad’s illness and legacy was in the midst of a spiritual battle, I chose to partner with God and fight. Yes, days were long and dreary, my mind would go dark, but I chose to surrender the illness, the pain and the legacy over to God. I chose to remain faithful on good days and bad. I believe this is how I truly began to understand and see God’s faithfulness in my life. Over and over and over again, God provided. God’s faithfulness left me absolutely speechless! I witnessed my father’s heart turn towards the Lord and God redeem his legacy. Psalms 100:5 states “For the Lord is good, his unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Amen!
So, how can we remain faithful to God when we live in a world where it seems faithlessness is the new norm instead of faithfulness? You get to decide. It’s your choice. I encourage you to do your part in being faithful in partnering with God, faithful in prayer, faithful in sharing the gospel, faithful in the small things, faithful in trusting God completely with your life no matter what the battle.
The faithfulness of God will withstand time here on earth and eternity. The fruit of your relationship with the most high God is eternal. I leave you with this: God is faithful. Where in your life can you show more faithfulness? We have the privilege to create the legacy we leave behind. Choose a faith-filled one!
Towry Barnard is a native Oklahoman who graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in Business Communications. She received her Master’s degree in Adult Education and Training and continues to utilize this skill set today. Throughout her adulthood she has focused on topics including: student leadership development, character first, early childhood education and God’s word.
Towry worked in higher education for over a decade. She combined her work, personal passions and parenting experiences to pursue writing and producing a children’s DVD and Book, titled: Zugio and the Sunshine Kidz which are tools encouraging children to lead a healthy lifestyle. Currently, Towry owns and operates her family’s real estate company and is working on her next creative writing adventure.
She met her husband Adam Barnard while attending OU and they have been married for 13 years. Together they moved to McKinney, Texas in 2011. Towry has a 13-year-old daughter, Tatum and a 5-year-old daughter Tindyl.
She has been a member of Cottonwood Creek Church for 8 years where she has enjoyed volunteering in children’s ministry and teaching God’s word in the women’s ministry.
I am sure by now you have heard of a certain prayer that goes “God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and Wisdom to know the difference.” Have you ever thought about what the word Serenity means?
Serenity according to the Oxford Dictionary means “the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled.” If you’ve ever been out to a lake, either the Twin Lakes outside of town or driven out to any lake on a day when the Oklahoma wind is not living up to its billing, you might have felt that serenity through the water – when there aren’t any boats on it of course.
If you have children, more than likely you probably have felt that serenity either when they are sleeping or if you left them with Grandma and Grandpa for a few hours. My wife Sharon and I do not have any kids together (we do have two older daughters that I inherited when we got married) but when that day comes, we will probably take advantage even though my parents live two hours away – doubt it but worth the shot.
You might be looking at the word serenity and thinking “now isn’t it the same thing as having peace?” From what I have read in researching for this blog, it is. In fact, an Australian named Kevin Bar on the site quora.com puts it this way: “Each one of us has our own degree of consciousness and our own unique density of intelligent light/love. The true meaning of peace and serenity is that they are positive catalysts that we can aim to achieve on an individual basis.” So while everything around you is collapsing, you can have a sense of peace (serenity) that everything will turn out fine.
The prayer that I mentioned above is not in Scripture per se, as it is used by those who are involved in Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12 step programs to encourage those who might be struggling in their recovery. But the Scriptures do make a lot of references when it comes to peace. A notable example would be when Jesus talks to His disciples. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27, ESV)
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi tells them to not be anxious about anything “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your prayers be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:6,7)
Think about any situation right now that could use a little bit of serenity…and work toward changing it. As we move into the summer months, it will make things a lot easier, even if it does mean leaving the kids with Grandma and Grandpa.
Robert Keil is Tonya’s brother in law. He and his wife Sharon live in Shawnee where you might see him as a block leader for Community Renewal or as a volunteer for the American Red Cross …or you can hear him on the One Ten Broadcast Group stations -- KWSH (1260 AM/97.7 FM), KSLE (104.7) and KIRC (105.9)