The Equation (when life doesn’t add up and other equations let you down)

Standard
“When life isn’t adding up, choose a different equation.”  Anonymous

“When life isn’t adding up, choose a different equation.”
Anonymous

Contentment has seldom been part of my life’s equations, especially when the car goes into the shop for new brake pads and comes out squealing, or when a relationship unexpectedly ruffles, or when our son hikes 60 plus miles with only his backpack and his dog, like he’s doing right now.

Too many times I give into irritation and frustration and concern. This time around, however, Sunday’s sermon came to mind. Our pastor talked about The Equation, capitalized here to set it apart from all the ones I’ve thought up.

Here are just a few …

God + marriage = All I Need

God + family + an impressive car in an upscale neighborhood = The American Dream

God + family + enough money to assure we don’t need Him = Control

God + family + a successful writing career = Happiness

God + family = Everything

God is always a variable. Then again, so are people as I evidently haven’t believed he alone is enough. Truth be told, when I post this, I’ll still be grappling with the latter equation not adding up.

The problem is, we’re let down by variables like people, possessions and professions. If I write a new equation, which I’ve been tempted to do since the birth of our three-month-old granddaughter, I’ll be let down by her as well.

Here is where I’m supposed to interject, “But God never lets us down.”

Instead, I’m thinking, “Now what?”

If I’m no longer pursuing happiness and the American Dream by way of family, money and career, what is my part in The Equation? Do I sit all day and read the Bible? Leave everything behind and, wearing sackcloth and designer shoes, head for a mission field? Ask our son to help find a mountaintop where I can do my chanting?

I might have a better chance of practicing any one of these before I work out the biblical equation that instructs my part is to be content.

Insurmountable as it sounds, I Timothy 6:6 (NASB) says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.”

In the form of an equation, it looks like this: God + contentment = Great Gain.

According to this verse, I am content no matter the noisy brakes and others’ behavior. And never mind our son’s text about a bear that moments ago crossed the ridge above his campsite. I’m content, right?

What are your equations? Are they adding up?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I’ve unknowingly blogged my part in The Equation – writing about being right where I’m supposed to be (and content). It’s time to put print into practice.

On the Side: Thanks to Iain Boyd, the rector at Trinity Church in Myrtle Beach, S.C., for simplifying scripture. I wouldn’t have recognized the equation without his guidance.

Also, thanks to Edie Melson for There’s No Math in Heaven. I received her post while working on my own.

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17 responses »

  1. I see myself in your list of equations. I know I must strive for your last equation: God + contentment = Great Gain. You always give me fuel for thought.

    • Peggy, you practice it better than anyone I know. I’m striving for half your peaceful spirit in half as painful circumstances as you’ve been through lately (does that make sense?). Anyhow, you know what I’m saying, right? I love you and I’m praying hard for you and Dan.

  2. ‘Sackcloth and designer shoes’ cracked me up – SO us trying to look good while we ‘submit.’ I agree with God + contentment = Great Gain. There’s a lot of other endings to that equation – and they’re all good. Prayers for your travelling son, Kim.

    • Shel, I’m so happy you stopped by for this one. I wrote about my designer shoes with you and a couple of other reader friends in mind. 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement always.

  3. Thanks for making math fun while teaching me something about myself in the process. . I haven’t mastered the Equation yet, so I’m going to have to do some homework. I’m hoping that with the help of my resident Tutor, I’ll start to grasp it. Thanks for the lesson 🙂

  4. I’m beginning to realize that life – my life, anyway – is governed by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which states mathematically that one can know he absolute position or the absolute velocity of a particle – but never both. One will always be approximate.

    I think life is like that. The more we try to pin it down, the less we can truly understand what’s happening.

    And in that uncertainty – perhaps – is where faith can and should grow,

    • Andrew, your last sentence is dead on. A friend once told me, “Figure it out is not a slogan,” but that didn’t stop me from trying for many more years. It’s exhausting. I welcome contentment, which is why I’ve chosen it as my word to focus on for 2014.

      As always, thanks for stopping by.

  5. From Facebook –

    Tami Seaborn likes this.

    Peggy New God + Me = okness (quite sure that is a work lol!)
    October 29 at 2:03pm · Unlike · 2

    Debby Harp Stephens Kim…is this math or something?? Some days nothing seems to add up. Brain power is not my strong suit these days. lol. Half a store now is not computing.
    October 29 at 7:46pm via mobile · Unlike · 1

    Kim Henson Peggy New, that equation works too.
    October 30 at 11:41pm · Like

    Kim Henson Debby Harp Stephens, the good news is we don’t have to be good at math. We won’t remember whether we are or not. LoL.
    October 30 at 11:42pm · Like

  6. From Facebook –

    Christy Young and Tami Seaborn like this.

    Jenafor Braley love, love, love,love,love,love
    October 29 at 4:33pm · Unlike · 1

    Susannah Friis For some reason, it wouldn’t let me comment! So here is what I was going to leave on the blog:

    Contentment is certainly elusive at the best of times, isn’t it?

    I used to always think it meant I had to be content when it was all going wrong and we had no money and it seemed like God had forgotten us.

    Now, my understanding of contentment has changed. “Be content, in ALL circumstances”. It’s hard to be content with our ‘plenty’ when we know others have less, it’s hard to be content with a great relationship when others around you are struggling.

    Being content, to me, means accepting exactly where God has placed me in life, whatever that looks like. If it’s a time of plenty, then be content. A time of richness in relationships, then be content. Knowing that God has us right where we are for a purpose and His higher plans means we CAN be content, no matter our circumstances, whether they be good or bad in this moment. Not that I always live in contentment but I’m closer to it than I was twenty years ago!

    I like the equations, Kim. Not being a maths person, I hadn’t thought about it like this Thanks for yet another wonderful, thought provoking post….and the great reminder to be content!
    October 29 at 6:28pm · Edited · Unlike · 1

    S. Kim Henson Thanks so much, Jenafor Braley. Love you!
    October 30 at 11:46pm · Like

    S. Kim Henson Susannah Friis, thanks so much for taking the time to post here since the blog wouldn’t take your comment. I absolutely love and relate to every word. Every. Word. “God has us where we are for a purpose” … yes, yes, yes. And when I remember that and have faith in that, it’s easier to be content. you and your comment.
    October 30 at 11:50pm · Like · 1

  7. Kim, thanks for this inspiring post! I’ve always hated math. But I sure like yours! I’m changing some equations in my own life this year that simply haven’t been adding up the way I’d like. You know the definition of insanity is doing the same old thing expecting better results. Yep, I’ve already changed that equation first.

    I always find your posts honest and inspiring. Looking forward to a year of better equations for us all! Happy New Year!

    • Beth, we can be accounting-ability partners when it comes to our equations for 2014! I know, corny. I’m not doing any better with words than I am with math, but the sermon did get me thinking to the point of making changes also. I often think about the quote about insanity, then I do the same thing again … but not as often or for as long. We’re making profess, you and me.

      Happy New Year, my friend!

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