The issue of contentment vs. discontent has slammed into my consciousness this week. For one thing, it was the topic of my class’s Sunday School lesson (which I teach). It has come up several times, at least one of which I can’t share because it’s confidential. What is behind the issue of discontent? The Sunday School lesson seemed to suggest that it stems from the way God made us, to need Him. We just twist it all around and try to fill the God-shaped hole with other things. Things that will never be able to satisfy us.
I’ve definitely felt like I’m trying to fill an empty space, even though I do have an active faith. Maybe it’s just this modern world and how it can isolate us from each other and just about everything important. We are too busy on our computers and phones and watching the idiot box (yes I said it) to really tune in to each other or God often enough. We are working and shopping and driving from place to place and cleaning and organizing and destressing and relaxing and just trying to keep all the balls in the air without dropping any. And when I say we, I mean me too. I’m not pointing fingers without including myself. I’m as guilty of all this as anyone else.
I’m still trying to figure out how to reach out to God more without losing track of the culture completely. Sometimes I know what I should do, but I’m weak-willed about doing it. Sometimes I don’t even recognize the problem beyond a vague sense that something isn’t right. Many times the list of things I need and want to do is so long that I go into survival mode, succumbing to the tyranny of the urgent, triaging life and doing just enough of each thing to get to the next day. That’s no way to live, let me tell you!
I like to give answers to the problems I raise. I know the answer here. Even 5 year-olds sitting in front of the church for the children’s message know it. What do the knowing ones answer to just about any question? That’s right, J-E-S-U-S. And they are absolutely, 100% right. Jesus is the answer to every question. And yet, even though we know this with absolute clarity in our minds, we are just as absolutely incapable of living in every way as though that were true. It’s so very simple, but at the same time infinitely complicated. Jesus is so completely the answer that we can’t even recognize it as such unless He helps us do so.
I don’t know how to permanently solve the problem of my discontent. It may be that I will never have consistent contentment in this life. Some would even suggest that contentment is a bad thing, that it keeps people from having goals and dreams, although I think they may be confusing contentment with complacency.
All I know is that when I turn my focus to my Lord, I am filled. I may not be able to keep myself focused on Him all the time, but I’m working on it. I’m making quiet time, I’m decluttering, I’m working on the things in my life that turn my attention away from God. Probably will be working on it for the rest of my life, but that’s okay. After being filled by His Spirit, nothing else really measures up. In the deepest part of my heart, I know that nothing else is worth it, so I will keep turning back to the one thing that can really give me contentment as many times as it takes.