The journey to simplicity and contentment takes a lot of discipline. As I have posted before, the world "out there" is betting that it can influence us to buy products that we don't need, and in the process "buy" into a lifestyle that we would be better off without. To figure out a way out of this mire, we look outside ourselves. We buy books, read magazine articles, search the web, talk to friends and family - all this to accumulate ideas concerning what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong. We especially are on a continual quest for those elusive things called willpower and inspiration. If only, we say, if only we had these, we would be set on this journey. And so we turn over every leaf and every rock, thinking today might be the day we find the pot of gold which holds the strength and wisdom we need. Alas, until we find it, we think, we will just struggle along.
Our daughter Rachel and husband Chris and toddler Caroline lived with us a few months last winter while their house was being built. Any move, of course, is stressful, but when you throw in two families moving in together, family helping you pack, and a toddler in the middle of it all, the stress really accumulates. This house looked overwhelmed with stuff. Caroline, little though she was, came with a bundle of things herself. Her books alone took up half the house. Her child-sized table and chair set was just ripe for tripping over. We kept diapers and wipes upstairs and downstairs...Wee Willy Winky himself would have been exhausted.
In the middle of all the chaos of moving, Rachel discovered she had lost her wallet. This understandably produced some tears and anxiety. She tried to remember when she last used it. I called a restaurant where we ate during the week of the move, but they had not found it. We searched everywhere. After they got settled in, she called to report her credit cards missing, got a new driver's license, and handled all the endless tasks associated with losing one's wallet. She was relieved to find out that the cards were not being used anywhere fraudulently, so she assumed the wallet had dropped into one of the numerous boxes that had been packed and put in the storage unit. There was no way to know for sure, but there wasn't anything that could be done about it other than opening all those carefully taped boxes to check.
In February they moved out.
When spring came, we were doing some cleaning in preparation for selling the house, when I grabbed a grocery store bag out of the corner of the kitchen. I saw some plastic cups inside, and I remembered that this was some stuff we kept unpacked for use on moving day - cups, napkins, some plastic utensils. Oh, and a wallet. Yes, her wallet was here. I called her immediately with the information. Even though it was too late to save her the trouble of changing her credit cards and IDs, it nonetheless was, as they say, "closure."
The wallet had been here all the time. For a week after that, I found myself whispering that phrase. It was unbelievable - right under our noses. If we only had known.
I think in some ways when we pray fervently for wisdom, discernment, self-discipline, and movitation/inspiration for our journey, God just says, "It's already there. I have already given you everything you need. If you become aware that you already have it, you can use it." Yet we still seek outside ourselves what is already in us. It was there all the time. Now we must activate it. The kingdom of God is within you.