How to Find Lasting Contentment in a Discontent World
By Mandy Smith
Many of us, if we’re honest, have expectations of what our lives should look like. But what if our lives are not quite what we thought they would look like by now? Can we be ok with that?
And if we are ok with that…is that bad?
I have hopes and dreams that keep me excited about what might come, but I am also content. Maybe you’re not in that place of contentment. I go through phases and I’m sure we all have our “days.”
However, the older I get, my wants and desires are truly becoming more about what God wants for me instead of what I want for me. And you know, it’s such a relief! That’s progress for me and peaceful minded living at its best.
I had to diminish the “supermarket mentality” where I looked at my “wish list” of life expectations and thought God would give me just what I wanted…when I wanted it.
And it’s hard. Really hard.
Truthfully, God has already given me so much of my “wish list” and even more than I thought I wanted or even knew existed!
I’ve noticed that when things seem to come at just the right time in my life, and I feel God’s hand of peace. I feel God’s will for me coming to fruition in those moments. It happened when I made my college decisions, when I’ve moved, changed jobs, and when I ended romantic relationships.
As Christians we have free will. People choose every day to go in one direction or the next. Is our choice always God’s best for us? I’d like to say yes, but the truth is that sometimes it isn’t.
But, God can make good out of our choices or mistakes if we give it to him. In fact, your biggest mistakes, when you learn from them and share them with others, can be just what someone else needs to hear to follow their own calling.
Do you feel pressure to try and keep up with others’ lives? Nowhere in the Bible does it say “And you shall do only what your neighbor is doing and follow along the accepted typical timeline life.”
No, it actually says to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). It says we will have trouble in this life (John 16:33). It says to consider it joy when you have trials… not when your Facebook status is “liked” (James 1:2).
If my will and God’s dream for me with my own individual talents and abilities are supposed to exactly line up with everyone else’s…is that the working of an all-knowing and powerfully creative God?
Nope. That would be bo-ring!
So, how do we get out of this mindset, out of constantly wanting the next big thing?
Could the feeling of being “behind” be a dangerous stairway to jealousy or a covetous sin that is masked as a longing for the “typical timeline life”?
Maybe it’s part of the real ache in all of us for heaven. The hope for eternity, of safety, security, companionship, acceptance, love, joy, and worship. It’s in this ache of heaven that we wake up to what we all really need deep down. To be loved and known.
And we are.
We were loved before we took our first breath. Jesus has already demonstrated his love and grace to us by dying and returning to life so that we can believe and live with Him now and in eternity.
If you’ll allow a metaphor, our salvation is kind of like a birthday cake, and I’d dare say every other good thing in this life is just the “icing on the cake.”
Cake I don’t deserve. Cake that should be shared with others.
So stop focusing on the icing when it wouldn’t mean much of anything without the cake to start with. We aren’t promised to live 90 years, 45 years, 20 years, or even tomorrow. For believers, we’re promised something sweeter than icing on a cake: salvation and eternity with our Savior—a sweeter gift than anything this world has to offer.
Mandy Smith is a joyful 30-something single living in GA. She is a full-time Speech-Language Pathologist. Her loves include Jesus, her family and friends, creativity, playing guitar and singing, coffee, laughing, and of course, writing! You can read more of her writing on her website www.myjoyousheart.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.