Saturday morning I woke up as Ordell was grabbing his jacket to head out the door. After a few late nights leading up to the first game the Friday before, I didn’t have a plan for the day other than to relax.
Ordell explained he was headed to see our freshman team off to their game and agreed to swing by the local farmer’s market with me if I could be ready to go in a minute.
I add this for the context of what I may have looked like, and to help you understand why I was a bit surprised by the encounter we had.
Our local Saturday farmer’s market is one of the best in the state. It’s the market I’ve always dreamed of being able to participate in. We had walked the aisles to sell the items offered that day and said a few hellos to people who recognized Ordell. We settled on a breakfast plan and at the food truck we chatted with a coworker of Ordell’s and collected our food.
Out of nowhere a woman who was working a booth yelled out “You guys look so sweet! You look so happy!” She had a huge smile on her face and made sure to make eye contact so I knew she was referring to us. When I smiled in acknowledgment she gave us a wave, clasped her hands together and sighed with what looked like joy.
As we continued through the market I learned Ordell was just as bewildered as I was by who this stranger was. It might seem odd that it would confuse me that someone would point out our happiness, but the truth is, she had identified something I hadn’t.
The past months have been filled with moving from one new thing to the next. Very little has felt routine outside of chores, exercise, and work. There have been a lot of tears shed, and yet somewhere in the midst of all of the new, our family has settled into a rhythm and for the first time in an extremely long time, a stranger looked at my husband and I walking together through a busy market and saw something that brought her joy.
Stress, exhaustion, and frustration are emotions others have quickly identified and pointed out to me, but happy, well sadly that one took me by surprise.
Later as I headed out for a walk in our neighborhood I racked my brain as to what could have made a stranger call out to us. Nothing stood out. As I went through the list of emotions I thought could reasonably be assigned to that moment I settled on contentment.
Yes, I was content, and that was ok. In fact, it was good. There was no reason to fight it. No reason to feel guilty or concerned it could be misinterpreted. It felt like a reasonable and rational state of mind.
This fall I joined a coach’s wives Bible study. We are going through Hayley DiMarco’s workbook A Woman Overwhelmed. Coincidently, later Saturday afternoon I cracked open my workbook to complete the assignment for the week and a few pages in the task given was to look up the definition of contentment.
Contentment: a state of happiness and satisfaction. The stranger was right. She identified happiness correctly, regardless of the synonym I tried to reassign myself. And as surprising as it is, the more I picture that scene, the more it makes sense.
Ordell and I were walking together, sipping coffee, grabbing freshly baked bread, fruit and vegetables. We were spending time together after a crazy few days and had just spent the previous ten minutes discussing the positives of the game the night before.
We were relaxed, casual (putting it nicely), and simply enjoying the moment. We were happy, and apparently so happy that it was noticeable to others. And the best part is, all of this occurred when life isn’t perfect! We may have been relaxed at that moment, but it is the beginning of football season, the busiest time of the year. While we wandered the farmer’s market our house was a disaster, and the next 6 hours were about to be focused on a football staff meeting that was moved to our living room due to the internet acting up at the school.
I think that is the most surprising aspect of the current state of life. Contentment exists in the midst of all the things that look to overshadow it. For some reason, in this season, it has refused to be covered up. And that’s a surprise worth embracing.