My husband and I were watching the film Twin Spirits: Sting performs Schumann, a lovely performance portraying the life and love of Robert and Clara Schumann through excerpts of their letters to one another as well as their musical compositions. Robert and Clara corresponded through love letters for years before they were finally allowed to marry. Once they actually did marry, Robert proposed that they begin a marriage diary to record their lives together.
When Robert began the marriage diary, he asked Clara if she would pledge with him for life to commit themselves to industry, thrift, and fidelity. She agreed wholeheartedly, and so their married life began. When my husband and I heard this, we resonated with this idea so much that we wanted to adopt it for our own motto.
Thus, I have placed it as the subtitle on our blog. Industry: for striving to work as hard as we can towards good ends in all of our endeavors. Thrift: for living frugally and wisely. Fidelity: for faithfulness to each other, to our children, and to God.
You’ll notice that we also added the word “contentment” to our motto. While industry, thrift, and fidelity are strong virtues, they can quickly become vices without contentment.
For example, any of these can be performed out of pride. They can be sought after with selfish ambition. Any can be dutifully committed to with a heart full of resentment. They could be submitted to with a sense of dreadful sense of confinement. Pick your poison, and these lofty ideals are quickly infected with a great sickness.
However, contentment brings joy to these three vows. It is possible to find satisfaction in working to the best of your ability, even in the most mundane chores. The thrill of a successful harvest reaped can overshadow the toil it took to get it. Frugality can break our materialistic addictions and bring our attention back to the more important things in life. There can be great gain in living simply and inexpensively. And while the constraints of fidelity are indeed binding, faithfulness with contentment can bring a secure and lasting love.
One last note on contentment: Just like it is easy for us to look over at our neighbor’s goats and wish we were in a different place in life, it’s easy for you, the reader of a blog, to get a false image of our (or any other blogger’s) private family life. It’s easy to read someone’s blog and see the pretty images, read the ideas, and wish that you could be like that person. You begin to think that I really am super industrious, thrifty, and faithful, instead of remembering that it is only my aim to work towards those ends. It’s easy to forget that the person on the other side of the screen is a real person, just like you, with his ups and downs, struggles and joys. Remember that my grass is no greener than yours and that my life is no better.
Find contentment where you are at today instead of searching for it elsewhere.
Work industriously with joy and peace. Don’t allow your heart to wish for things thinking that they will bring happiness. Commit yourself to finding the best in your family and choosing to love them as best as you can, regardless of their faults and yours.
And while you work at it, remember that we are right there working alongside you.
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