“I’m getting exactly what I want, and I’m still not happy. How can that be?” she said. I love my friend’s honesty. Six of us sit around the dining room table nodding our heads as we puzzle over how hard it is to be content. With all we have, with many opportunities, we find joy elusive still. And we feel guilty about it.
We each have different circumstances, but we have this in common: the luxury to decide how we spend our time. We recognize the huge privilege of having a choice. And we wonder if we’ve chosen well.
Each of us, at one time or another, has found herself staring longingly on the other side of the fence. The grass over there: is it an optical illusion, or is it really more vivid?
Robert Frost wrote:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood . . .
I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t chosen the stay-at-home mom road. Would I feel successful? Well-established in my field? Pleased with how I spend my time? Validated?
It’s not that I regret this choice—I just wonder about the road not taken. Would that road have led to greater contentment? Better yet, would it have led to persistent joy?
The six of us at the dining room table hypothesize: the antidote to discontentment is gratitude. Instead of squinting to glimpse the other road, we will appreciate this side of the fence.
Of course, we are grateful — for food, homes, cars, family and friends. Of course we thank God for these things. Intellectually, we think grateful thoughts, but there’s something keeping us from wholehearted contentment: gratitude arising from a whole heart.
So our plan is simple. We will consciously, deliberately, wholeheartedly trust God for direction and guidance, peace and joy, in big matters and small.
For wholeness, we will treat ourselves with kindness. For heartedness, we will count our blessings and write them down.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I’ll let you know if it makes a difference.