Thursday, October 15, 2009


Cleo--the cat who can't decide if she's a cat, a human, a dog, a monkey, or what--recently happened upon me as I was taking care of the laundry. My jeans were still warm. As I folded them, I stacked them on the sofa. As you can see, she jumped onto them and promptly went to sleep. I just kept stacking them. After I was done, I left them there until she decided on her own to move. She stayed snuggled up in her warm little bed for a good 15 minutes before she came looking for me ... at which point, I petted her for a couple of minutes, then gathered up the jeans and put them away.

Sometimes I'm in awe of my cats. They need so little to be content. A warm place to lie down. A small, enclosed area to feel safe--they love their airline crates. Fresh water to drink. Nutritious food twice a day (although they really would prefer that it be available all the time). Occasional petting and brushing. A small ball, bottle cap, or cable tie to chase. A clean litter box. Each other. That's all they need.

So what do I need to be content? It's hard to say ... I know the difference between a need and a want. I know the things I need in a physical sense. But the things I need psychologically ... that's where it becomes a little more complicated, more difficult to determine with certainty what is a need and what is a want. I know I need my relationship with God--that's fundamental. Could I be content without anything else, just me and God? The Sunday school answer is yes. But I also know that isn't how God created us; there's a reason why He said it wasn't good for Adam to be alone, even though God Himself was there. We're made to need human companionship. So I need interaction with other people--my husband in particular, but also my extended family and my friends. That's what I need relationally. How about physically? I'm pretty sure I could give up my creature comforts. I could be content with a lot less stuff than I have now. But then I think ... if I really gave up my creature comforts, to the extent that I lived like the zabbaleen (the Egyptian garbage collectors, who live surrounded by the garbage they collect, sort, and sell for recycling) or like many villagers (not surrounded by trash, but in extreme poverty, like in my last post)--if I really gave up my creature comforts, could I be content? Probably so, I think, but only after God had used the circumstance to stretch and grow my faith well beyond its current limits.

The sisters at Mother Teresa's chose to have their faith stretched and grown in just that way. They willingly gave up creature comforts to live in Muqattam and pour out their lives to help the children of the zabbaleen. And they aren't alone. There are people all over the world who sacrifice immensely for a cause greater than themselves. From what I've seen of the sisters, they are content--more than content--with the life they've chosen. They don't seem to see its deprivations, only its joys. They are content because they trust God absolutely, welcome all that they have as a gift from Him, and view the things they do not have as opportunities for their faith to grow--either by seeing how God will carry them through without it, or by seeing how God will provide it.

Now that's a worldview worthy of emulation.

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