Most of us would probably agree that contentment is a struggle. Lately, the daily battle for joy, thankfulness, purpose and contentment has been wearing me out—it seems like the fight should be easier than this.
I’m certainly not a lone soldier in the war against discontentment. Many friends have opened up about similar struggles, some more intense than others. One friend asked if I’ve noticed a pattern related to the ups and downs of thriving with purpose, then feeling as though life lacks meaning. After some thought, I did find a major culprit: lack of prayer and fellowship with God.
It’s inevitable. When I’m not talking with God, I begin to do my own thing—I strive and strive and strive (perform) to try to find my life’s meaning. Needless to say, I always come up void. Every. Single. Time.
This void leads to the sense of purposelessness that usually plays a huge role in my discontentment issue. I feel purposeless when I attempt to fill my life’s voids with worldly pleasures, and I seek worldly pleasures as satisfaction when I’m not communicating with God.
As a disciple of Christ called to share the good news of the gospel, there really is no reason to feel empty or purposeless. Every day is another day—another adventure, if you will—on God’s mission field. If we pause and listen to the Holy Spirit, there’s no telling the excitement each day may hold. Maybe you’ll finally meet the neighbor down the road and find out she speaks in tongues. Maybe you’ll be the phone call someone needs in the middle of an emotional crisis. Maybe you’ll invest time into a child with an absent parent.
God uses us when we make ourselves available to Him. He isn’t limited by what we perceive as our limits. I too often see myself as someone with generally below average (to quite poor) energy levels, not much for extra cash and a questionable (at best) mental capacity. Yet He uses me. Sometimes I don’t see it, and I begin to lose hope and purpose—that, my friends, is because I am not talking with God and seeing my life as he does.
Viewing Life Through God’s Lens
Think of the people you interact with every day: coworkers, friends, family members, the plumber fixing your broken pipe, a bus driver. You probably have no idea how God is using you in his or her life, but I promise you, if you’ve got a heart for Jesus and make yourself available to Him, He is working. That staunch atheist coworker you talk with every day may, years down the line, end up at a bible study in your very home.
I’ve been trying to seek out these covert purposes in my everyday life. I don’t always know exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing, but I can trust that God does. It seems healthy to me for Christians to use their imaginations and try to see the world as God sees it—full of purpose and meaning and opportunity to share life and truth.
Viewing life through God’s lens also eliminates competition and envy. We all serve different purposes of equal importance to Him; therefore, there is no need to adopt the “grass is greener” mentality when looking at another’s life. She works in an office. He manages a coffee shop. She cares for her family at home. He cleans toilets at the gym. She leads worship at a local church. He serves at a non-profit organization. Whatever it is, an opportunity exists for God to use you there. This means we can choose gratitude wherever we are rather than strive for the next ladder rung.
The Fine Art of Staying Present
A close friend told me about a trick she uses to fight fear, anxiety and discontentment. I’m finding it’s the simplest, yet most difficult thing to put into practice: staying present.
Part of the Lord’s will for us, as revealed in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, involves always rejoicing. In the original Greek version of the New Testament, the word translated as “rejoice” means “to experience God’s grace (favor); be conscious (glad) for His grace” (emphasis mine). The word translated as “always” means “at all times.” In addition, Matthew 6:34 tells us not to be anxious about tomorrow; the word translated as “to be anxious” means literally “to be divided, distracted.” These verses make it clear: we should live our lives with conscious awareness of God’s grace at all times—in every moment of every day—without allowing distractions of tomorrow steal joy from the present.
I struggle implementing this technique into daily life, but I’ve found when I do keep my mind in the present, thankfulness becomes much easier. Fear of the future and regrets of the past melt out of my consciousness, which can then be filled with God’s many blessings surrounding me.
Whether it’s through five minutes of meditation or an all-day, moment-by-moment practice, I encourage anyone to attempt the fine art of staying present and enjoying sweet, prayerful fellowship with God. You may find yourself counting blessings more easily and enjoying a fuller sense of Christ-centered contentment.
Peace and blessings,
Kat, (semi-professional) insomniac