Hop Out

A modern urban myth, “The Frog in the Kettle” has been told many ways and for many purposes. But most agree that it is an allegory for life. The basic story goes that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it’ll  jump out, but if the frog is put in lukewarm water and the water is then brought to a boil slowly, the frog will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. A rather gruesome example I’d say, but the moral of the story, for me, is that change, especially when it is subtle, can consume us without our knowing it or without our permission.  Such is the reason for this blog post.

It’s no secret that I’m a word nerd. I accept the moniker without shame. And since I retired I have had more time to think, ruminate, and exercise this gift (or curse). And the past two years have had its days of rumination, adjustment and, often, angst.

The words comfortable and complacent come to mind often as it refers to my current status. The words are alike but sometimes quite different. They each have their own denotations, or dictionary meanings. Comfortable means having physical ease and relaxation. Synonyms include cozy, snug, warm, content.

Complacent means to be satisfied – actually self-satisfied. Its synonyms include lazy, proud, pleased, gratified, content. Other connotations of the word complacent imply boredom, uselessness,  worthlessness. The implication I get from this is that getting too comfortable, in the slowly warming surroundings, may lead to self-satisfaction and worthlessness. I fear that, before long, it’ll be too late to jump out. The idea that I could go from nice, warm comfort to lukewarm complacency scares me to death.

The Apostle Paul chose the word content (which can be a synonym of both comfortable and complacent). I like this word better. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” He is saying that he has little control over his environment, but I would hardly say that Paul was complacent. Not even when he was in prison did he sit and “stew” in the rising zeal of his oppressors.

The writer of Hebrews (unknown to us) puts it this way: “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever abandon you…’” Hebrews 13:5.

Again, Paul writes to Timothy “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it, either.” 1 Timothy 6:6-7. 

Please pray that I (or you)  will find that happy place of contentment without becoming lazy and complacent.

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