My ministry, my main responsibility, lay within the four walls of the mission guest home. There I was to offer comfort, pleasantness of spirit, and a quiet restfulness, which I usually did. There were times, though when I sipped from the Cup of Discontentment. It wasn’t at all like the Cup of Contentment, so clear, sparkling, and full of pleasant thoughts. The Cup of Discontentment was always cloudy, and there were always little “somethings” to be fished out. For some reason or other, that cup was never clear or free of little things. It was small, easy to carry around, but it seemed to have a habit of spilling, no matter where I set it. It was old and cracked, with a chip right where I drank. Oh, but it was a decorative cup with painted flowers on one side, long faded from years of use. On the other side was a bird with a broken wing, broken by the crack going down the side of the cup. The Cup of Contentment was not nearly so attractive to look at. It was large and never seemed to be full; there was always room for more. There were times when it seemed so full, yet it never spilled a drop. There was nothing adorning the outside. It was a plain white cup. Inside was different. Down at the bottom, the very bottom, as I looked through the sparkling clearness of my cup full of contentment, was a bubbling fountain. It was never clogged. It was never turned off; always flowing. Surrounding the fountain were tiny white lilies and a rose, a wilderness rose; the rose of Sharon, surrounded by the lilies of the valley, and watered by the fountain of contentment. I could drink from either cup at any time I wanted, for even though the
Cup of Discontentment was cracked, it didn’t leak; but being small, it did spill easily, leaving stains. I guess I filled it too full. The Cups of Contentment and Discontentment sat side by side in my cupboard. I could choose either the one or the other. Sometimes I knew which I would choose before I opened the cupboard door. Many times I did
not. My moods were variable and unstable. Although chipped and old, the Cup of Discontentment is even yet attractive to look at with its delicate faded flowers, and the broken-winged bird that will never fly. From the outside, the Cup of Contentment has only its shining whiteness to present. I have to pick it up and look deep inside to see its beauty.
I am no longer in a mission home, no longer the guest home keeper. I am off the beaten track and have little contact with global workers. I am alone during the day, alone with my thoughts. I brought with me only a few things from the mission home. Many precious things were left behind. But I brought, carefully wrapped in the soft tissues of feeling, the two cups: the Cup of Discontentment and the Cup of Contentment. They were the first things I unpacked and set upon my kitchen counter. I have so little cupboard space, that they have to be out in the open. For a long time I drank only from the cup with the
faded flowers and the poor wounded bird. Though faded, old and chipped, it was familiar and gave me a wretched comfort. Then one day, having drunk it to the very dregs, I set the cup on the edge of the counter. It fell. The crack is longer now, and the chip more pronounced. It is not the least bit pleasant to drink from. I rarely pick it up anymore. And it is just as well. For some reason the Cup of Discontentment seemed to leave me clogged and sluggish. Besides, there were always so many “ifs”and “onlys” to fish out of the cup. I couldn’t always see those little “somethings”, but I could feel them, little foreign objects, as I swallowed a mouthful of the cup’s contents. I’m not sure why I don’t throw it away, except our youngest would want it to play with; but l don’t think it is a safe toy for a child. Day after day, with careful deliberation, I pick up the Cup of Contentment. I drink long and heartily from its never-diminishing contents. My well-being is revitalized. I mount up with wings.
P.S. October 25, 1988— Oregon USA— Our furlough baggage allowance was limited, but I was able to get the two cups
in: the Cup of Discontentment and the Cup of Contentment. I wonder why I brought them both? Force of habit? DISCONTENTMENT IS A PLAGUE!
P.S. #2 November 25, 1996 – Republic of Panama —I have an awful feeling churning around inside of me that when we get to
Jackson, Michigan I’ll find that chipped, faded Cup of Discontentment in the top of my luggage. I don’t know where it is at the moment. Have I already packed it? I really don’t want it, so why do I pack it? Oh, but, it does travel so well securely tucked into the folds of the soft tissues of feelings. I really should leave it behind, but…
P.S. #3 Feb 11, 2000 — Republic of Panama —Would you believe, I found it in all my things when I unpacked here in
Panama, right beside the Cup of Contentment. Yes, I still have the Cup of Discontentment and I still drink from it. It leaves me disappointed.
I guess I could keep adding…