Learning to Be Content

    “Learning to Be Content,” Ensign, Feb. 2011, 62

    Learning to Be Content

    Satan is not to be underestimated. He can make a rich man miserable and a poor man proud. Money and material possessions should have little bearing on our happiness and attitudes, yet Satan can often convince us otherwise. I realized this was a problem for me after my husband and I purchased our first home.

    A short time after we moved in, my initial excitement faded as I began to see the flaws of our home and feel discontented. Many of my friends had much larger homes decorated in such appealing styles as to make our home seem small, plain, and wanting. I found myself making comparisons and feeling that I came up short.

    During one of my more intense periods of disgruntlement, a couple in our ward invited us to join them for family home evening. When we arrived at their home I felt the anticipated pang of jealousy at the sight of their large, new home in which little had been forgone. What I had not anticipated was the conversation I had with the wife that evening. She mentioned their unhappiness with their home and their desire to find something a little bigger to better suit their needs. I was astounded! How could someone who had so much not realize how lucky she was? I would give anything to live in this gorgeous home—and she was unhappy! How could she not appreciate what she had?

    As I later reflected on her comments and my reaction in turn, the Spirit gave me a very profound insight: I was no different from my friend whom I so strongly envied. We had been blessed to purchase a beautiful house that many, many people would be overjoyed to live in. The problem was not with the house—it was with me.

    Instead of focusing on what I had, I could only see what I lacked. Instead of gratitude for blessings, I chose jealousy and greed. From the moment that I realized whose influence had been tainting my perspective, I made the choice to never let Satan sway me in such a worldly direction again. I realized then, as I do now, that if we cannot be contented with our current lives and possessions, then we are feeding an appetite that no amount of money will ever satiate. Jacob addressed this desire for wealth in his day by counseling us to seek first the kingdom of God and a hope in Christ; then if we are blessed with riches we will use them to “do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted” (Jacob 2:18–19). I know that as we keep our hearts full of gratitude and our desires turned to God, we will be blessed with a sense of peace and contentment unknown to those of the world.

    And that is something money can never buy.

    Photography by John Rees