Monday, September 20, 2010


Privation is defined as a state in which things essential for human well-being are scare or severely lacking, such as the usual comforts or necessities of life. Hmmm, comforts and necessities. But by whose definition?

I have found that I can have plenty by any usual standards, whether it be a nice home, a new car, expensive clothes, cupboards filled with food, money in my bank account, and still feel overwhelmed by pangs of emptiness and longing. What I lack often overshadows what I have. In the New Testament of the Bible, Hebrews 13:5 says to be content with what you have. In fact, one of the Lord's ten commandments states that we shall not covet what belongs to our neighbors. As I look back over my years, I have lived through long seasons of both plenty and want. However, I have always been able to find satisfaction and contentment with my level of "stuff" either way. Materials possessions are not the issue that defines my sense of privation. My quality of life has never been about money.

The times in my life when I am most satisfied, most sated, are those when I have known joy. Joy is one of those terms that is often misunderstood. Many tend to think of joy as the same thing as happiness. However, joy is on a different plane than mere happiness. Happiness is momentary and situational. Joy is deeper and broader. We don't necessarily have to be giddy with happiness to possess joy. Joy is possession of secure love and contentment that we can cling to regardless of whatever else may be going on around us. My privation stems from my loss of joy, which I believe is the most essential element to my well-being. It seems the harder I try to find joy, the more it eludes me. Paraphrasing Edith Warton, if we'd only stop trying to find joy, we could have a pretty good time.