“We’re going to do what??”
You can only imagine my reaction when I heard my family of 6 had decided to rent a house with only one bathroom. After all, as a 13 year old girl, I needed my privacy, right? But despite my complaints, we moved in. During the year we spent there, there may have been some difficult moments (baby sister peeing in the kitchen sink, banging on the bathroom door for my little brother to end his 40 minute shower, etc.), but I would not change my experience there. Why? Because that season began to teach me the difficult lesson of contentment.
The act of being content reflects a humble heart attitude—a willingness to say, “I have and I am enough.” It’s a recognition that Jesus has already provided everything we need for life and godliness. But this is not an easy realization to come to. If we’re honest, our minds are daily consumed by thoughts like these:
“I’m not pretty enough.”
“I’m not talented enough.”
“I’m not wealthy enough.”
“I’m not strong enough.”
“I’m not popular enough.”
“I’m not involved enough.”
And before we know it, Satan has a foothold in our daily heart and life that is not easily shaken. Why do we let him in this way? Our human nature is to want more. This very “need for more” drove Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and it drives us to continual sin even today. The root of discontentment is three main things: Pride, fear, and comparison.
Pride is what was in my way as I scoffed at the idea of a one bedroom house. My selfish heart told me I deserved a certain standard of living, but in reality, shelter is a gift. I failed to realize that house was a blessing and an answer to prayer. In many ways, the Lord hand placed us in the right place at the right time. When we start focusing on how great and deserving we think we are, we also start making everything else in our world sub-par. This discrepancy produces continual discontentment.
Second, we are afraid. For me, this is fear of missing out or fear of something going wrong. We all have mental lists of things we want to do with our time and our lives. However, when we don’t get to do what we want to do, we become frustrated. Why can’t we be where we want to be doing the things we want to do? We feel like our time and life is wasted. We become afraid of missing out on OUR plan for our lives.
We also have subconscious fears of not having what we need. What if our house burns down? What if I get in a wreck? What if we have a medical emergency? These “what-ifs” make us feel like we NEED more and more. Instead of trusting God’s protection and provision, we think we can plan ahead enough to eventually make ourselves content. What we don’t realize is that we will never reach this level of “contentment” though our own means.
Lastly, discontentment stems from comparison. I often catch myself seeing what others are doing on social media—whether traveling or working camp or spending time with friends, or doing summer missions—and wanting to do what they are doing. But when we focus on what others have that we don’t, we forget what we DO have.
What if we don’t actually want what we think we want because what we’ve actually wanted all along is what we already have?
We often want what we don’t have and want to be who we aren’t. But it’s what we already have and who God has already made us to be that is truly satisfying. We rob ourselves of joy when we listen to lies.
True contentment grows out of viewing yourself accurately through the eyes of Christ and as a member of the body of Christ. You can never do everything. You weren’t supposed to do everything. You were created who you are and with your passions, interests, and strengths for a reason. I shouldn’t be jealous of a sister in Christ because God has given her the desire of her heart. In reality, He has given me the desires of my heart too, and I’m too busy looking at what others have to recognize the great beauty and reward of the blessing he has dropped in my lap.
Next time, don’t be jealous. Be thankful. Serve without recognition.