“The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here.” — Robert Ingersoll
To be honest, I used to look at those words on my flip calendar and be angry. I knew it was true, but I just didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to be happy now…in this house…in this city…in this state. I would be happy later… when I lived somewhere else… when I had everything I wanted… but not now… and certainly not here.
Eventually, I learned that if we are not content with where we are, we will not be content elsewhere either. I learned this truth in a painful and expensive way.
You see, contentment about where I live is not something which has come easily to me in the last sixteen years of my life. In fact, since June, 2000, I have been content where I am living for only about 72 months—that is 6 years! Which means that ten of the last sixteen years have found me discontent, unhappy, and wanting to move.
In truth, the years of discontent are even more than that, as I was unhappy and desirous of leaving Florida for a couple years before we actually moved. I’m not even taking those months into consideration and am commencing my years of discontent at the time of our move to Idaho.
After arriving in Boise in June, 2000, I found myself content and excited about where I was living; however, those feelings lasted less than 3 months, because by August, the longing to leave the rental and move to a house of our own had kicked in. In September of that year, we bought a house, but within four months, I was, once again, unhappy and yearning to move. And move again we did—within six months of buying one house, we sold it (for a loss), and we moved once more, this time to a completely different section of town.
In less than a year, though, I wanted to move back to the other section of town, so we put our house on the market. When it didn’t sell, I chose to be content for a time, but after about a year, the “itch” to move hit again, and the house went back on the market. Two years after moving into that house, we were able to sell it and we moved back across the country—to Georgia.
Despite the fact that I was sure I would be happy in Georgia, I wasn’t. In fact, I was miserable, Add to that, my husband couldn’t find a job. It was a very bleak time for us, and we ultimately realized that leaving Idaho had not been a good thing for us to do… so three months after leaving Idaho, we returned and moved in to a rental house. Do you know how expensive it is to move a house full of stuff 3,000 miles? Twice? Obviously, such foolhardy actions destroyed our finances, and we continue to reap the financial repercussions of those actions even now, thirteen years later.
For about a year, I was content, but all too soon, I was pushing to move once more, this time to a house of our own, which happened in October, 2005 (that makes 6 moves in a 5-year period). By early 2007, I was anxious to move again—this time out of state once more. Things didn’t work out, as employment doors remained closed, keeping us stuck where we were—but just because we were unable to move, it didn’t mean I was content or not trying to make things happen.
In fact, I said nearly every single day that I hated it here, that I couldn’t wait to leave here, that this place would never be my home. I even made my family promise that if I died here, they wouldn’t bury me here. I’ve been all about getting out of Boise since 2007.
But a couple strange things began happening in 2013. First, I began to realize that I had spent over a decade of my life being unhappy and discontent. Sure, I had had plenty of good times and could have fun, but deep in my heart, there was the constant desire to be somewhere else. I began to recognize that this was sin. Also, I recognized that no matter where I went, I would be taking my discontent, unhappy self with me. I realized that if I didn’t want to waste another ten years of my life, I had better get my act together and embrace where I was.
As I made the decision to be content and to bloom where I was planted, something surprising happened—I actually became content.
I came to the realization that there are worse places to live than Boise, Idaho. In fact, when you get right down to it, Boise is actually a fantastic place to live. Although winters can be a little colder than I like, the climate here is actually quite moderate, with very little humidity year-round. Outdoor recreation opportunities abound, and the crime rate is low. The downtown area is super, with great restaurants and beautiful parks. While Boise’s airport is no O’Hare, it offers daily flights to many U.S. cities, and getting in and out of the airport is easy and painless.
We have a nice mall, a talented Philharmonic orchestra, a fantastic library system, big-name concerts, Broadway plays, a lovely botanical garden, and oodles of other things. To be honest, with the exception of the nearest beach—which is about 10 hours away—I don’t feel Boise lacks for much.
Slowly—without my even being aware of when or how it happened—I became content where I live, something which has brought peace and joy to my heart. It was an expensive lesson to learn, but I am finally no longer pushing to move somewhere else. I no longer have moving back to the South on my agenda. In other words, what I’m saying is, “Boise is my home, and I love living here.” For this “gotta get back to the South” gal, those are some mighty surprising words. How I thank God for working in my heart and bringing me to this place of contentment.
Yes, Mr. Ingersoll is right, “The time to be happy is now, and the place to be happy is here.”
Think: Do you struggle with discontent? Or do you have the ability to be happy wherever you are?