Monday, August 15, 2011


Recently, my attention has been called again and again to the fact that I struggle with discontentment.  In fact, discontentment is at the root of so many of the battles I fight repeatedly.  In one way or another, I regularly find myself thinking, “If I could just have that/do that/get to that place in my life… then things would be better and I would be happier.”

Don’t misunderstand me; it’s not that I’m miserable.  I am just… discontent with wherever I am at any given time.  It may be good enough, but I am always looking for the next thing, for something more, for something that will complete me.

I’ve believed the lie that so many people believe, that where I am in life right now isn’t enough.  The message is all over the place in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.  Figure out what you want next, figure out what’s going to make you happy, and then make it happen.  Your contentment lies in your hands.
I am beginning to believe that isn’t quite true, at least not in the way I have been tempted to believe.  My contentment may indeed lie in my hands– to the point that I am willing to surrender my own chasing after contentment and instead give it to God.

I asked myself this question: Would I really be more content deep down if I had more money, nicer stuff, a bigger house, my dream job, if I could go back to school, if my kids would outgrow whatever developmental stages they’re in and the challenges that come with them?  And my answer was, no, probably not.  Because I’d still be looking to external factors for my sense of contentment.  Life is unpredictable.  Money and jobs can be lost, houses and possessions can be destroyed, circumstances can change with little to no warning, and new frustrations come with each of a child’s developmental stages.  The grass really isn’t greener on the other side.  (I read a quote once that said the grass looks greener on the other side because there’s a lot of manure there.)  Looking to external circumstances for my sense of contentment is unwise.

Paul talks about learning to be content in every situation– but how?  I know it has to do with finding your contentment in God, but that seems to be much easier said than done.  When we are struggling to make ends meet, when the air conditioning is broken during a hot summer, when we’re about to be a family of five in a two-bedroom house, when my dreams of going back to school and developing a career seem so very far away, when my oldest is moody and argumentative, when my youngest climbs everything in sight and has emotional meltdowns over being given the “wrong” cup… how do I ensure that my contentment stays secure because it rests in God?

It’s easy to say that I should base my contentment in God alone, but in the midst of the stress and struggles of everyday life, it seems very difficult.  How do you do this?  How do you get to the place where you can truly say you are content in every situation?

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