Toddlers can teach us about Contentment

26 Apr

Finding Joy…in everything

Kids find FUN everywhere


little boy playing with carboard box

Picture by Getty

 You’ve probably heard this story or have lived it out, about a kid who gets a gift and finds joyful bliss playing with the box alone rather than the toy that came inside it. We can learn a thing a two from that scenario…

As parents, my husband and I are like kids in a candy store when Christmas rolls around as our heads start dreaming of our kids’ faces when they see the “perfect” gifts that will greet them Christmas morning. The truth is, they do welcome their gifts with a look of awe and adoration…for a couple of seconds, until you hand them the next present they are to open.  When the procession of opening presents is complete I have found that my kids would have been just as  happy if I would have wrapped up their old toys because that’s what they resort to at the end of the week anyhow.

Having children has taught me a great deal of things and one that I am very grateful for is learning the “joy through contentment”. Kids exemplify this every day in our lives. If we pay close attention, you can see them displaying this when we are not too caught up busying ourselves. I’ll give you this example I witnessed last week in “my favorite place on earth”.

Last Saturday we were touring the streets of New York city. We were greeted with lights, mega billboards, limos, and hot fashion galore (ok this is how I saw it anyway). In a mad dash to make the most out of our time there, we ventured through the “interesting”  subways, maneuvered our away through the no-joke windy winds in the financial district and finally arrived at Battery Park (destination to take ferry to Statue of Liberty). We anxiously showed our two-year old the iconic Statue of Liberty that thousands were in line to see (we only saw it from the park). His reaction, “That’s the Statue of Liberty? It’s so little.” Ok, so maybe the up close and personal experience would have been different…maybe.

We then strolled around the park and came to a bench where we decided to sit and rest for a while from all the excitement (for the adults at least). My husband and I decided to look at some of the footage from that morning’s interview with Fox News that had already been uploaded on their website. I paused for a second to take in this moment. Here we were in the Big Apple, with our family, watching video clips from one of the largest national news networks where we had just been interviewed. It was surreal. It was– It was here when I noticed my sons…being content with God’s simplicity.

Dad and sons sitting on bench

My sons were behind our bench collecting rocks, sticks and rolling on the grass. We could have been in Paris, London or Italy and still they would be attracted to the simplest of things. They would have been just as content being in or backyard. It’s another way God has taught me beautiful lessons through my children. Their perspective can teach us so much about what really matters. As long as they are fed, have slept and are loved, they are content and find joy, even when we as adults can’t.

“…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

I have learned to appreciate more of God’s beauty and nature by really trying to see things through my sons’ eyes.  This perspective causes me to pause before destroying all spider webs, tossing out mounts of twigs resting on my dining room table, and cleaning a dirty kitchen to play cars with my boys.  After all, these are the simple things that bring joy to my boys and I soon find they bring joy to me too.

The word “contentment” seems to have some sort of “suffering” connotation to it as having to live without or settling for less. In the World English Dictionary “contentment” is described as assenting to or willing to accept circumstances, a proposed course of action, etc. I think when we start focusing on the blessings we have in our lives as oppose to “our circumstance”, we will find that it is not so much that we are learning to accept our circumstances, but finding that being content brings joy and that supersedes our circumstances. The best example I can give is when I first quit my job to be a stay-home-mom. Initially, it was easy to get caught up on the what we were going to have to do without. After having my boys, I can’t even remember what we are having to do without. I guess they never really mattered. I am filled with so much joy that I get from my blessings that I don’t ever feel I am settling for less. I found joy through contentment and life is more beautiful now.

These verses have reminded me of the reason I must have joy in my life and to have it abundantly.

“You will make known to me the path of life;In Your presence is fullness of joy;In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

~Psalm 16:11

“For You make him most blessed forever;You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence.”

~ Psalm 21:6

“My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.”

~Psalm 63:5

I hope you will join in me in meditating on these verses and find that being content is not just accepting an undesired circumstance, but a state of mind that  can bring about joy. If you need a little push or an example for this, just look to your toddler who is sure to be on his way to finding fun…finding joy.

5 Responses to “Toddlers can teach us about Contentment”

  1. mommylili April 26, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    Couldn’t have said it better myself Rachell. Some of the best memories growing up include our own made up entertainment, remember that?? Lol…nothing can replace that.

    “Contentment is the currency in God’s economy.” -Marty Schnider (financial planner)

    • Training Up My Boys April 26, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      I agree Lili. I do remember playing store, school, church, house and talent show. It’s refreshing to be reminded of what really matters and to know that every parent has the means to give just that to our children.

  2. IncidentalDomestic April 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    Really excellent post. These are exactly the verses I needed this week. Thank you for the encouragement!!

    We have been going through tantrum land in our household from the oldest to the youngest for the past few days. It’s so easy to get caught up in the frustration of their disobedience and I can feel it welling up like a cloud filling up with water droplets, waiting to dump it’s rain all over my mommy picnic. (how selfish is that?!!!)

    I love staying home and wouldn’t trade it for any number of tantrum-free days … I just need to make the box into a four-seater I think.

    -Jennifer P.


    • mommylili April 26, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

      Jennifer, don’t know you, but have to say: Love the sence of humour! A MUST have to get thru these rough stages =) Blessings to you.

    • Training Up My Boys April 26, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

      Aww Jennifer so glad to hear that. I love it when I too come across scripture that God wanted to comfort me with that given day. I agree with you wholeheartly, I wouldn’t trade all the designer shoes, bags, hair appointments and vacations for a day away from my boys…no matter how tempting it can be at times. God makes us so much better through them. Be encouraged and know your kids are blessed and will be better off because of what you are doing for them today. Many blessings to you and your family 🙂

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