We chatted with our oldest son a short time ago and my husband asked him how he was doing. He said he’s doing well, excited about soccer and loves it at college. This, to my mom’s heart, was soothing – and it was about to get better.
My husband, Mr. Philosophical, then asked, “Are you happy with yourself?”
“Well, in some ways, no,” my son answered.
When it comes to certain areas of life (study, sports, character, etc), he doesn’t settle for where he’s at but rather pursues improvement, he explained. This I can accept. Then he went on and said something I rarely hear; something that actually came a bit as a surprise to me:
“But the other day I was with the soccer team, and in my head I went through all the guys, including my five best friends, and decided I would rather be me than any of them.”
It took a while for that to register, for first my mind flashed to the day we moved him into the dorm: he with one box, one suitcase, (those two holding basically everything he owned), plus a few linens and things from Target while his roommate came tumbling in with several large packing boxes full of room decor, clothes for all seasons, new electronic gadgets we’d never heard of, and a new mini fridge that was accompanied by bragging rights to everything his parents went out and bought him those past few days.
I stood there feeling guilty, being sure my son wished he could be in that kids shoes.
Then my thoughts turned to the fact he has no car and therefore is stuck working in the campus library for minimal pay while his friends have awesome paying jobs at the mall or at busy restaurants, bringing in hundreds of dollars per week, since their parents bought them cars before going to college. My son has asked if there was anyway we could help pay for a car and insurance, too. “Sorry”, we told him, “there’s no way we can.”
His friends, too, don’t get stressed when it comes to break time from college. They go ‘home’ and hang with their social circle there, be it church, work, or former high school buddies. Our son has to figure out where he can go – and although his grandparents open their home, bless their heart – once there he really doesn’t have much of social ‘life’ or even his own vehicle to get around in. I was sure that at times like that he wished he would have grown up in the U.S. like his other friends.
So how, I wondered, with less material possessions and a life that’s a little out of the norm, can he say he’d rather be himself? How could he be so content when I feel guilty for not ‘being like the rest’ of the college parents?
My husband told my son that contentment is a great gift that few ever possess, and that people are drawn to content people. My son concurred with both statements.
I learned another important lesson from that: I need to not only be content for myself, but also be content on behalf of my kids; I need to quell these female and motherly notions I entertain – these guilty feelings of not having done or given enough.
My son has a rare commodity indeed – contentment. God’s grace has brought him to that place in his life and I pray God’s grace will keep him there. It will take him far in life.
Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Tim. 6:6