Posted by: karanoel | April 19, 2011

An ugly discontentment

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:11-12

I’m becoming increasingly disinterested with the subject of me, which is a strange feeling after 37 years of pretty consistent self-focus. The implications in my life are yet to be seen, although I imagine they will be good. It’s unclear what that will mean to a blog that revolves around me, and got me considering today whether even to continue writing. But between some helpful feedback from John and my increased interest in letting things work themselves out, I think I’ll just continue to share where I’m at and see where it goes…

After a conversation with a friend a few weeks back, I had a realization that in our many years of friendship I had never known a time when he had been content. Happy, yes. Content, no. There was no judgment attached. It just was. So I mentioned nothing and moved on.

Enter my vanity. As clear as the observation about my friend – and far more piercing – came one about my own perpetual discontentment. I have never in all my life been satisfied with my appearance. Before aging skin came to the forefront of my vision, the fixation was on my features or the way they fit together. And my body – which has been everything from thin to shapely to muscular – has never been quite right either. I had never considered this discontentment… rather legitimate problems that required my attention. Funny how we can justify our own sin and yet see that of others so clearly.

God used that conversation to bring revelation. It didn’t carry judgment or condemnation, but truth. I was uncovered and, in all honesty, shocked by this big blaringly unfruitful expenditure of emotional energy and care in my life.

I remember praying with friends several years ago and this verse from Proverbs came to mind: “beauty is fleeting.” Obviously, outward beauty fades. That’s a reality and makes it a very unsound investment. But something else clicked in me during that prayer time. Beauty is elusive. You go to where you think it will be and it fades like a mirage, leaving you thirsty for the satisfaction you thought was going to be there. So you run for the next promising pool, all the while getting further depleted of that which will actually quench your thirst and deliver the promise.

This is true of every form of discontentment. If we cannot accept who we are, where we are, and what we have – now – we will be kept in a perpetual motion that keeps us chasing after illusions and keep us from the very satisfaction we’re seeking. I believe this with all my heart.

Discontentment is saying that either God is unable or unwilling to provide the best for us. The natural result of this false belief is that we have to go out and get it ourselves. It is fueled by a focus on the world’s standards of what matters, comparisons to others, and a fixation on what we don’t (but should) have. Conversely, contentment comes from recognizing God’s love and power. It is fueled by a knowledge of his character and word, faith in the things he has promised, and an acceptance of his values and priorities.

What this means is that in God we will find true beauty. We will be fulfilled. Every need will be met. And even so many wants. Even if nothing changes on the outside, we will feel pampered by the love of God and spoiled by his goodness. This is freedom. It is what will set us apart from a discontented striving world. And, who knows, maybe they might even want what this beautiful freedom that we have…


Responses

  1. Thank you for your blog. This was very well said and I will ponder it and try to be content with me.

    • Thanks Patty! I’m right there with you… learning to see myself through his eyes and stepping into the freedom that comes with it.


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