On my way to work every morning, I pass several churches. I love to read the messages that churches put out on their signs, everything from doom and gloom (“Repent, the end is near!”) to happy little warm fuzzies (“Jesus loves you!”). In fact, we had a game in college where we replaced the word God on those signs with the word Bob which was always funny…One classic that I remember specifically was “A lot of kneeling gets you in good standing with…Bob.”
This morning I noticed one that says something along the lines of “Always be content with where you are. Never be content with who you are.” At first I was in agreement with that, because a lot of stress and misery in life can be avoided by not constantly longing to be somewhere else. I spent the first few months I was in Montgomery wishing I was ANYWHERE but here, but now I’m actively trying to like it here, see what makes Mo-Town special and fun and a good place to live. Granted, I have no intention of staying here the rest of my life, but while I’m here I might as well make the best of it.
However, the second part of that thought is nagging at me. Again, at first I was in agreement, in that if you are never content with who you are you will always be striving to be a better person. Cue PollyAnna, stage left. How many people in the world who will say “I am not content with myself as I am now” are that way because they want to better themselves, really? I think more often if a person is not happy with who he or she is, that leads him or her to continue thinking negatively about himself or herself. I know that I fall victim to that. “I’m too fat,” leads to “I don’t have the energy to exercise,” plus “I can’t afford to buy health food,” coupled with “I can always start my yoga tomorrow when I’m in a better mood,” leads to me doing nothing but sitting on the couch, watching Doctor Who and feeling sorry for my poor slovenly fat self.
So perhaps the second half should read instead: “Always be content with who you are and strive to make yourself even better.” Now, when I start my yoga today and buy my health food on the way home from work, I can be content in the knowledge that I will only spend a few hours on the couch tonight rather than the entire evening…right?