June 4, 2012

Fighting for Contentment

Day in and day out, I live with a certain truth: Today, I will have to fight for contentment.

It’s a strange thought, isn’t it?

Contentment is this nebulous thing that we all want, but it always seems to be just out of reach. Sometimes, we can attain it temporarily…and we think life will be just dandy from then on.

Wrong-o.

What is it about our culture? Why are we never satisfied with what we have?

And I’m not just talking material satisfaction, although that’s certainly there: If only I could have THAT car…if only I could have THAT house….if only I was making THIS much money…I would be happy.

But lemme just say, in an extremely cliché way:

The grass is always greener on the other side…

That’s not to say we can’t have goals, dreams, things we strive for. But we should put some boundaries on them, boundaries that remind us that achieving THIS thing or THAT thing will not bring us ultimate contentment.

For example, I’ve been in a job before that was stressful and unsatisfying. I thought, If only I could get out of this job, I can finally be happier.

That job came and went. For awhile, that was enough to elate me.

But soon, I wanted more, something different. And even now, I’m looking forward to that time when I can be a full-time author/editor at home.

Another example: A year ago, I had only been dreaming of starting my novel. I thought, If only I could start it…I’ll feel so happy. Then, it was If only I could FINISH it, I’ll be content.

Today, I’m nearly finished with the final revisions (at least for now!). That should elate me.

But already, I’m dreaming of the day when I’ll have five novels completed, the day I have an agent, the day I have a book deal, the day I’m a bestseller.

When will the “wanting” and the lack of contentment ever end?

That’s just it. I don’t think it comes naturally for us to be content. In fact, Paul said in Philippians 4 that he had found the secret to being content.

We weren’t meant to wish our lives away, constantly living in the future and not enjoying where we’re at now. But what’s an ambitious girl like me supposed to do when I have so many things I want in life, but God is saying “Wait” or “These things take time”?

I need to put that ambition to good use…I need to fight for contentment, to not let an unsatisfied spirit take hold of my heart.

But how?

So far, prayer has done wonders for me, as has Scripture and the encouragement of my husband and good friends.

I pray that God would teach ME the secret of being content. I pray that I would remember that He can use every moment, every phase of my life to teach me something, to use me to bless others.

Instead of impatiently tapping my toes or running ahead of God, I want to sit at His feet and ask Him, “What are you wanting me to learn today?”

Ironic, isn’t it?

Fighting, at least in this case, means being still.

Your Turn: Do you struggle with discontentment? How do you deal with it?

*Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

28 comments:

  1. Oh sure. And a slew of other things. I'm a mess. :D

    I was just talking to a published friend about this the other day. The whole greener grass bit and they couldn't be more on board with that.

    Eye-opener for me. Constant reminder to live in the here and now, experience gratitude, and surrender all to God.
    ~ Wendy

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    1. Experience gratitude. That's definitely a part I usually miss, and need to do more of.

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  2. I used to be. I'm more content now than I've ever been. But I have my moments. I'm going to email or text you b/c you have no idea what this post has done for me today. And it has zip to do with contentment! You need to not be on an opposite time zone as me! ugh!

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    1. I've learned so much from you, friend! Thanks for your post on the Here and Now. It got me thinking about this topic...a lot.

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  3. Great post, Lindsay!

    I fight discontentment by preaching truth--God's truth--to myself. When I'm not walking in that light, discontentment often takes hold.

    Thank you and God bless!

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    1. What a great idea. It's true...lots of light drowns out the darkness. Thanks for visiting, Heidi!

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  4. Kristin ElizabethJune 4, 2012 at 5:49 AM

    I used to be so much more stressed on what I had to accomplish. Now I realize it will come in God's time. I reflect back to what "I" wanted to do and when "I" wanted to do it. Now "I" see where God has me on those paths I want to walk and where He wants me to walk them. When it seems as though things are not getting done as fast as they should, my mind takes me back to years ago, and I remember where God had me planted and where He continues to lead me now and so I wait more patiently.

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    1. So true. Looking back gives such perspective, doesn't it?

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  5. If there's anything I struggle with the most, besides impatience, it's this! (Actually, impatience is probably tied into this whole thing...the consequence of discontent.) I like where you said, "What's an ambitious girl to do...etc." I've wondered before, if I didn't have such big dreams, would it be easier to be content with every day life? Actually...probably not. Because I'm human. Somewhere in The Message paraphrase of the Bible it talks about "the tyranny of want," which to me is an awesome way of describing discontent--being trapped by our wants.

    But I love, love, love the solutions you offer. Especially this:

    "I pray that I would remember that He can use every moment, every phase of my life to teach me something, to use me to bless others."

    Awesome stuff, Linds!

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    1. I think we are a lot alike, you and I. Love that phrasing in The Message. Have to mull on it.

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  6. I love your transparency. I've definitely struggled with this over the years. Especially in the writing world, it can be hard as an unpublished author to watch all those agent contracts and book publishing contracts happen to everyone else. It was a struggle for me. I realized that my focus needed to go to boot camp. It's funny, but the one thing that broke that was realizing that we're all in it together, to further the kingdom of God. I began to add people to my prayer list. Yep, there are authors out there who I pray for: that God would bless them, bless their writing and use them to bless others. It was a sweet realization and lifted the burden of discontentment off my shoulders. Whenever something pops up, I take a quick inventory and adjust my prayer time and that gets my focus back on track.

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    1. "...my focus needed to go to boot camp." Love this. And love your idea to pray for others. Taking the focus off of me, me, me does wonders.

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  7. Honey-child. I have struggled and blogged about this issue lots of times. Especially when I was going through my struggles with infertility-- it was all about "when I get pregnant." And now we are staring down the same road again. Even though I remember all the lessons God taught me last time, I find myself in the same place I was before, thinking "If I can just get pregnant..."

    My pastor preached a sermon not long ago about tunnel vision that really spoke to me. He preached about the dangers of seeing only your goal ahead and missing the harvest.

    I'm trying my best to Harvest Now.

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    1. First, I love how you just got all Southern on me...honey-child. *teehee*

      Second, I love your honesty and transparency. And your advice on tunnel vision. Good stuff.

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  8. Oh yes...I have blogged about this before! I struggle with discontentment all the time, but now that I am older I tend to be more content than when I was younger.

    We'll see what the Lord has in store for me this year. It's going to be interesting!!

    But one thing I have learned is to stop and take a look at those around me. So many friends are hurting right now. They are dealing with some BIG issues. They ask for prayer to get them through this storm.

    I need to stop asking for more and start thanking God for all that He has provided. It's a great reminder!

    Thanks Lindsay!

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    1. Yes, when I look at how good I have it compared with others, I tend to get embarrassed at how ungrateful I've been.

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  9. Lindsay, this was such a timely and truth-rich post. Thank you for your insight and encouragement!

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    1. God's been teaching me a lot lately, and I'm so glad I can share! Thanks for stopping by, Amanda. :)

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  10. I am so content in some areas of my life, and so filled with discontentment in other areas. I love the honesty in your post. Lindsay. Trust is a huge factor. I just keep turning to God and asking Him to light my paths.

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    1. I'm the same...totally content sometimes with some things, and not so much with other things. It's crazy how it can be both ways, isn't it?

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  11. Ah, the dreaded discontentment. When I was a child, I dreamed of being an adult, now that I am an adult, I long for the days of my childhood. In the winter I crave the heat and in the summer I dream of cooler weather.

    I have so much and I still long for more. I believe it goes deeper than the physical here and now to a greater longing of our spirit to be at home with the Lord and instead of filling that void with prayer, the Word and fellowship, we often try to fill it with the things of this world which can never work. As Christians we've heard it said a thousand times, but it's still so hard to remember. I am with you a 100% - I want to finish my WIP, I want to find an agent, I want to be published and I want it now. I thank God for this great community where we can relate and encourage one another - and I thank God that He prompts our hearts to seek and search for more of Him (and His will for our lives).

    Thanks, Lindsay! (I keep wanting to call you Linds - it just seems to fit your personality!)

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    1. Seems we have a lot in common, Gabe! (And as I said, Linds is totally fine! I love nicknames.) :)

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  12. I ran across a quote that went like this:
    If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence -- maybe it's because they take better care of it.
    Ouch.
    If I'm focusing so much attention on what others have then I'm ignoring the gifts God's given me.
    And I can't even learn the lessons he wants me to learn from my mistakes.
    So, yes, I have to fight for contentment.
    And learn to tend the grass on my side of the fence.

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    1. Wow. That's a really, really cool thought, Beth. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. I'm always yearning for more. I think it's natural. But I agree with you, there's a way to be content yet still hopeful about our desires being met, and there's the discontentment that eats us alive. It really depends on the day I'm having!

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    1. I'm with you there! Some days are up, some are down. God stays the same...so that's where it's best to focus! :P

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  14. Being an eternal pessimist, it's tough too feel content. There's always something else out of reach. That said, I keep reminding myself I am right where God wants me to be on the way to where he wants me to go.

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    1. I sometimes do find it hard to think of the glass half full (to use a cliche). That's great advice, though...remembering that He's got our best in mind, and we can learn so much where He has us RIGHT NOW. Thanks so much for visiting, Cheryl!

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