As Good As It Gets
By Jennifer E. Jones
A man who incidentally suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder leaves his psychiatrist’s office frustrated and anxious. He steps into the waiting area where other patients are seated and stops as if an epiphany hit him.
“What if this is as good as it gets?” he asks and then he leaves. The patients remain frozen, pondering the possibility.
It’s my favorite scene from the movie of the same name, As Good As It Gets. It’s a funny moment, but it’s really a question about contentment. Can you honestly look at you life as it stands right now and say, “Freeze frame. Am I okay with what I see?”
You might say no and probably have good reasons why. Life can certainly throw some unfair curveballs our way. You might say, “yes, but…”, and the qualifiers start coming out. Well, of course you’d be happier if you had more money, a more attentive spouse, a nicer job, etc.
I am as guilty of discontentment as the next guy. I have pinned a certain level of happiness on milestones that I have yet to achieve. But there comes a time in every daydreamer’s life when she has to ask, “If this as good as it gets, what am I going to do about it?”
“The future is no place to place your better days” – Dave Matthews, “Cry Freedom”
I think God put contentment in our grasps. Paul, who is among our examples for a Christian life, wrote about being content in his present situation, which was often being homeless, in jail or in some type of peril. If anyone had a reason to be discontented, it was Paul. Here he was doing God’s work and people always wanted to kill him. Don’t believe me? Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-26. Shipwrecked, flogged, robbed, stoned… it wasn’t easy being Paul, yet he wrote to the Philippians:
I am not complaining about having too little. I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have. I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything. (Philippians 4:11-13, CEV)
The rock that Paul leaned on was his belief in Christ. He found contentment in the fact that Jesus never left him and that the Holy Spirit was continually helping along his journey. He found that the far-reaching arm of grace was enough to hold him no matter how close he came to the brink. Quite simply, to Paul every day that he had another breath was a gift. Life – somewhere in its core, with all its imperfections and pitfalls – was good.
The older I get, the more I know that the winds of change are inevitable, but their timing is often a mystery. You just never know when or how your situation will improve. So, when faced with discontentment, the more reliable decision would be to change one’s perspective of the circumstance – rather than waiting for the circumstance itself to change.
Either way, it’s always good to stop in the middle of the crowdedness of life and ask the question, “What if this is as good as it gets?” And if it is, then ask God where you can find joy and the peace in this moment. Let God show you where He has hidden His grace for you, because I promise, it’s there.
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