So I’ve been thinking about that second picture I drew yesterday, of me walking away from the Giant Disappointment and into the future.
It puzzled me, while I was drawing, that a backpack suddenly needed to be drawn on my back.
I don’t know… I think it has been well-established at this point that I’m no artist, but is this a thing? Do drawings take on a life of their own? I know that happens with writers – characters suddenly go down a road the writer had never intended but somehow feel compelled to write into the story. So I assume it’s a thing with artists too.
At any rate, that backpack got me thinking. Why was I wearing it? I’m heading off into the future – does it hold everything I need for that? When I let go of the Giant Disappointment I had been dragging along behind me, did I naturally then grab hold of resources for what’s ahead?
And then I remembered a word-study I did on the word “content” a month or so ago. I was studying a verse in the book of Philippians:
“…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Phil 4:11
That word “content” has been a bit of a thorn in my side for the past number of years, because to me, it seemed to be saying I should settle. And I’ve done more than enough settling, thank you, and it really, really hasn’t worked out well.
So I decided to meet that word head-on and looked it up in the original Greek.
sufficient for one’s self, strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support
independent of external circumstances
contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest
Well then. One of those definitions leans a little toward settling, but it’s the last one listed, and the other two have a completely different connotation.
“Sufficient for one’s self” describes the direction in which I’ve been heading for the past few years. “Independent of external circumstances” is where I have learned to find my joy – not in externally-driven happiness, but in what (and Who) lives inside me.
“Strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support” — oh, you mean, as in, I have a backpack on my back with everything I’m going to need? Is that where that backpack came from?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I’ve been taking the wrong connotation of “content” every time I’ve come across the word. I thought it meant dragging that Giant behind me and not complaining about it.
And sure, it can mean being happy with what you have, and there are times that connotation applies well. But when you have it within your power to enact necessary changes to get out from under someone else’s problems, that’s the wrong time to apply that meaning.
Because once you have enacted those changes, you find you are stronger, you feel more sufficient, and you don’t need that codependence and that enablement cycle. You are content with who you are, without the dance you used to have to do.
After all, even in English, the word “content,” if you use it as a noun and accent the other syllable, means “the stuff inside.”
So being conTENT has as much to do with making sure you have the right CONtent as it does with not seeking after things that are beyond your grasp.
Because while contents may settle, you don’t have to settle for the wrong content.
And apparently, whatever that backpack contains, I think it’s enough for what’s to come.