Thursday, February 4, 2010

What do you *need* to be content?

As so often happens, a variety of things happen or are said and the result is a blog post so that I can sum up my thoughts on the subject. I've been pondering "Godliness with contentment is great gain" and "having food and raiment let us therefore be content". That last one is pretty sticky, isn't it? :-) If you had food and clothes and shelter and nothing more, would you be content? Some of the things that sparked this line of thought.
  1. Somebody wrote a letter to the editor in a magazine I subscribe to basically saying that if you can buy superfluous items then you aren't caring enough about starving, homeless or suffering people in your community. Wow. That's a sobering thought.
  2. A neighbor that we've met a few times dropped off 7 blankets here today, that's a nice thought. We have enough blankets for our beds but no extras, everyone has 2 sets of sheets and that's it. No extras. But they had enough extra that they could afford to give away 7 like new blankets.
  3. One of the meme questions had to do with our clothes (how much is homemade and how much we have). The girls have 4 dresses each, petticoats, and a pinafore or 2, the boys have 3-4 shirts and 3-4 pairs of pants/overalls. They have a Winter coat/hat/scarf and socks and that's it. We don't have closets full of clothes that we don't wear. There are several reasons for this: since I sew the majority (not overalls, socks or underwear) of what we wear and there are 11 of us, we're never going to have "too many" clothes as I simply can't sew that fast. :-) Secondly, I truly believe that it's unnecessary and an account will have to be given of why I wanted more when I knew that others didn't even have enough. Again, that's a pretty sobering thought. Historically you'd be looking hard for any but the very wealthiest families to have any where near what most people consider necessary today, why do we need so much?
  4. And this is the biggie. We've been without a van for over 2 years, that means that we don't go places as a family etc. It's been really hard, I mean really. I had my hopes set on buying a van when we got our taxes back but circumstances conspired to make this impossible. I was so disappointed but I started to ponder whether we needed a van or not. I came to the conclusion that we don't. We aren't going to die without it, so while it's a nice luxury, it's not a need.

I may have mentioned Martha Ballard before, but it ties in so I'll bring her up again. I own and have read her diary several times and I recently learned that the diary in its entirety is searchable online. I searched for "beans" and found out what varieties of beans they planted etc. I searched on "knit" and read about what and when they knitted. If you read her diary you will quickly notice how full her days were and how industrious their family was. They worked hard to provide for their needs and I think they were better for it. I'm not sure that our glut of leisure time really benefits us, I'm afraid it only serves to further the disconnect between us and those around us. Who cares about their neighbor anymore? Do we know (or care) who raises our food or makes our clothes? I'm troubled by these thoughts. I don't expect that you will have the answers, but I just wanted to get this off my chest. :-)

The diary is available here.


  1. Wow, that is a great post, Mrs. G! how often do we have more than we need and yet are still not content with what we have? Well, right now we have shelter and food and that is about it! So, we have been learning to be very content. and tomorrow I think I will go through my clothes and get rid of what I don't need/hardly ever wear! You've inspired me...
    Thanks for posting. It certainly leads to a lot of pondering.
    Sarah (Fiddlin Girl)

  2. Mrs.G,

    These are wonderful thoughts. I appreciate you voicing them! It really has made me sit back and think and I thank you for it!


  3. The wonderful people I work for do not have a television, as they realized early on in their marriage that they got 'nothing' done because of it. They hang their laundry, bake their bread, grow their veggies and tea leaves, make the gifts they give friends and family. They can do all these things because they don't have a television...the eternal time waster.

    It's true how greedy we are as a society. In our country, even the poorest are rich by a third world's standards.

  4. Another wonderful post, Paris. I love Martha Ballard's diary. What an amazing story of simplicity and hard work. God Bless!

  5. What a tought provoking post, Mrs. G!

    My family also own few clothing items. We have kept it this way, because we live in such a small cottage that space is quite limited and also, the boys are growing so I pass on the clothes to other families I know that need them.

    I am content...quite happy in fact to have so little :)

    Thank you for sharing,


  6. Oh, Paris,

    I too am troubled by who grows our food and that it is genetically modified, hormone laden, and antibioticly infiltrated. I agree that too much leisure time is not good and that we have too many clothes, and not enough love or even concern for our neighbors. It is so very disheartening. I think that it is wonderful that you have a husband who feels as you do in raising your children in as pure an environment as possible through what you feed them, both physically and spiritually.


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