When You’re Sick of Being Discontent
My friend didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but it was impossible not to overhear the man next to her. Cell phone conversations are like that. The well-groomed stranger was clearly talking to his wife, and judging by how infrequently he spoke, it was pretty much a one-sided conversation. Then suddenly, the stranger said good-bye—at precisely the same moment my friend looked up and caught his eye.
He shook his head, bewildered, “She’s just not satisfied”, he explained apologetically, “and I don’t know how to help.”
She’s just not satisfied.
These words could be the epitaph for our generation. Discontentment has become epidemic.
And it’s making us miserable.
We’re a generation of women who have closets full of clothes, opportunities to pursue endless dreams, and a coffee shop on every corner. And yet, it’s not enough.
In our relationships. In our circumstances. In our life. In ourselves.
Like little children who can’t quite reach the cookie in the cookie jar, genuine contentment seems just beyond our reach. We want to be content, but we don’t know how.
We believe the lie that says, “I would be content if…” or “I will be content when…”
As a result, a piece of our soul remains Just. Not. Satisfied.
Ever been there? I have. Maybe even today, there’s a little piece of you that whispers, I’m just not satisfied with____________,
Here’s the good news: contentment isn’t something you can have if or when; contentment is something you can have right now—even if your circumstances don’t change one teensy bit.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words from a prison cell: “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 4:12)
Is this kind of contentment really possible? Even in your current situation?
Yes! Contentment is a learned response, one we can all acquire. But in order to experience this kind of contentment, we must live aware of what we’ve allowed to steal our contentment, thus far. These are what I call “Contentment Killers”. Here are the first three:
- Contentment Killer #1: Relational Disharmony
It’s hard to be content if a relationship goes south. Unresolved conflict with a spouse, child, friend, co-worker—even a stranger—leaves us tied up in knots.
We think about it. We obsess over it. We rehearse what we said. What they said. What should have been said.
Relational disharmony is a crazy-maker and a contentment killer.
The Apostle Paul begins Philippians 4, (the same chapter where he reveals the secret of contentment) with this piece of wisdom: “Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement” (Phil 4:2). Why start there? Because the first secret of contentment is relational peace.
Could your first step toward contentment be working toward resolving the relational issue that’s left you burdened? Way. Too. Long.
- Contentment Killer #2: Dissatisfaction
We become dissatisfied when we experience repeated disappointment. Disappointment is the product of unfulfilled expectations. Expectations are formed when we compare our life with someone else’s life.
It’s a short (and miserable!) walk from comparison, to expectation, to dissatisfaction, to discontentment.
We can’t compare and expect to be content.
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So what’s the solution? Must we give up all hope of finding contentment when our real life doesn’t square with the life we expected?
Not at all. Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!” (Phil 4:4) Apparently, Paul knew we’d need to hear this one twice.What does rejoicing in the Lord—which literally means “Take your joy in the Lord”—have to do with overcoming discontentment?
Most of us only find our joy in our circumstances. But here’s the problem: We can only rejoice in our circumstances if our circumstances are something to rejoice in.
But what if they’re not?
People will eventually disappointment us. Things will eventually fail to satisfy us.
But God never fails to satisfy. And His kind of satisfaction goes deep, right down into the core of your soul.
Could your first step toward contentment be to stop searching for joy in your ever-changing circumstances, and start seeking to find joy in your never-changing God?
- Contentment Killer #3: Anxiety
The anxiety most of us feel every single day—from minor inconveniences, to major life changes—makes the concept of true contentment seem like a child’s fairy tale, rather than a grown woman’s birthright in Christ.
Paul (who, remember, writes from prison) tenderly reminds us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6).The word “anxious” means (you’re going to love this!) “Divided into parts”. It’s where we get our saying “go to pieces”. Prayer, filled with equal parts asking and thanking, has a way of bringing our fragmented feelings to a firm foundation, where fear and anxiety are replaced with faith and anticipation.
Could your first step toward contentment be asking God for direction, and thanking God, for what He has done—and will do—in you, through you, and for you?
We are a generation of women who struggle with contentment. But now we know the first three secrets to find it.
Do you struggle with contentment? Leave a comment—I would love to pray for you.
If you’d like to know more about living content, sign up for Donna’s new Bible study called Get Healthy: Contentment. Right now, it’s a free five-session study you can work through at your own pace, alone, or in a group. Donna even has free teaching videos to help further cement the secrets of contentment in your life! For more info on this life-changing resource, go to www.donnajones.org.