Contentment

It’s one thing to say you are content. It’s a totally different ballgame to actually live like it.

This weekend, we took our son to college. We had reserved a room by the beach so we could enjoy a day of the ocean, but when we arrived, all our plans changed dramatically. The first red flag was the emergency vehicles in the parking lot, namely fire vehicles, but not actual fire trucks, which told me the place wasn’t burning down. (First thing to be thankful for). And then we walked into the lobby…

Water was dripping from the ceiling everywhere. All furniture had been removed and there were umbrellas lying on the counter at the front desk. Clear plastic was draped over the computers at the desk and the representatives behind the desk were having a hard time putting on a smile. It was clear that something enormous was going on, but because there were patrons milling about in their swimsuits outside at the pool and coming in from the beach (very casually I might add), we weren’t too alarmed. That is, until the young lady told my husband that they had no room for us because the sprinkler system had ruined the first three floors of the hotel.

I was casually bantering with another lady when my husband looked at me from across the room and angrily said, “They have no room for us”. My brain digested this information and I walked over to confirm what I had just heard. The representative kept looking at her computer, not looking at us at all, and repeated, everything is booked and we don’t know when or if we will have any rooms becoming available. This is all under investigation and we can’t do anything.

Now, I understand that they will not allow someone to stay in a water-soaked room. I also understand the words, “There’s little that I can do.” My husband was fuming, because there was no real effort to help us solve a problem that had just been dropped in our laps. There was no list of other hotels offered. There was no offer to assist in finding any type of accommodations or even a drink of water after our long trip. It was a simple, “Yes, you had a reservation, but we won’t honor it, not even with customer service of offering to help you with this problem because we have problems of our own” attitude.

Now, I am a customer service guru. I just have a knack for it, even when I can’t completely meet the requests of my customers, I always try to offer alternative solutions and allow them to make the decision. People like to appreciated, even in the smallest ways. This was not our experience with this particular hotel and it pushed my patience to the very limit. Sitting in the car, trying to figure out what to do, my husband began his fit of rage. this was my cue to exit because I cannot bear angry tantrums. I walked back into the hotel.

When I walked in, the same people were in their positions, still frustrated with the water situation. They did not look pleased to see me. I was shaking inside from frustration and anxiety but I knew I had to solve this problem somehow and I knew they could help. I gave them our name again and they automatically looked at me incredulously as if to say, “I thought we got rid of you!?”

I managed to spit the words out in a medium pitch, not too high or anxious but not really calm either. “Can you not help us find another place to stay tonight?” They balked at my request until I insisted, “Look, you know the other hotels around here and we know no one. Certainly you can at least give me names and numbers to search.” Amazingly, they did better than that and it took all of five minutes.

They found a very low budget extended stay hotel that had held a room for them in case of emergency. It was not a thrill of a room, but it was a dry roof and bed (maybe with bed bugs, but I didn’t want to look to find out). My husband, when he found out the good news, was not keen on the idea of staying in that type of place, simply because of the lack of cleanliness. In my heart, I was grateful for the place to stay, but I was getting angry at my husband for his selfish attitude and lack of gratitude. The knots in my stomach were growing and I was on the verge of tears, all because of the complaints that kept spilling out of his mouth.

Now, I could put the entire blame on him, but that’s not accurate. I was just as bad because I sat there and agreed with him, adding a few comments on my own. Now that I look at that whole situation, I know that my actions grieved God but I was too blind in my anger to control myself. (Isn’t that a slap in the face?) Here I’m supposed to be the example of love, contentment in Christ and self-control and I failed at all of them. To boot, God gave my husband the idea to ask just one more hotel (a much cleaner one). He asked me to walk in and ask, which I did, and God gave me the gift of not just one room for the night, but a second room just for my son. He was generous to me when I failed to be generous with others in their time of frustration.

This morning,God gave me Paul’s story of contentment (at least one of them) in how Paul behaved and how God provided for him. It starts in Acts 27, when Paul is a prisoner and has appealed to Caesar. Paul has remained steadfast in his witness for Christ and has warned the centurion on the boat that is taking him and other prisoners to Rome that the ship would be wrecked. The crew didn’t listen, the boat was caught in a huge storm, making them go way off course and have to lighten their load just so the boat wouldn’t break apart. Then Paul called them on their foolishness of not listening to him in the first place but assured them that God would protect them if they followed his advice.

They did and even though they ended up wrecked on the island of Malta, no one died and everyone witnessed miracles from God through Paul because of it. This is where God really protected Paul, because the centurion convinced the crew to not kill the prisoners but allow them to swim to shore with them. Then, the snake bit Paul but Paul had no adverse reactions. And finally, Paul was able to pray for all of the island’s sick natives and God healed them all.

He’s prisoner, shipwrecked and trapped but he didn’t complain. He didn’t insist that they uphold his appointment at the time he expected it to be. He knew obstacles were going to get in the way and he remained thankful for God’s continued provision. By remaining thankful, even before the provision was given, he was guaranteeing the door would be wide open for God to provide and keep providing. His contentment witnessed to all of those people even before he opened his mouth about Jesus.

Yep. Just another lesson I get to learn and get to share with you. How are you showing your contentment? Me? I’m doing it one minute at a time. Happy Monday!

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