I am the queen of discontent. Perhaps you can relate. I have so much, but somehow, I always find myself wanting more.
More exotic travel. More food and coffee. More clothes. More things. More adventures. More picture perfect moments that fit into a square for the world to see.
Apparently this is a struggle of my generation, or perhaps all generations. This summer, I have been thinking about the things I desire and have asked myself, “What in my life promotes and shapes my desires and my vision for my life? Does this vision line up with God’s vision for my life?”
The answer stands out rather clearly. Social media most often (not always, of course, especially when people are honest) paints pictures of ease or excitement. While people do use social media as a platform to celebrate the mundane, we can filter (literally) even the mundane moments to make them look magnificent, like there is always something more to be had in life that could be ours if we just took one more vacation, decorated that last corner of our house, or bought that new outfit. We can even spiritualize this prettified world by posting pictures of our peaceful devotional while sipping coffee from a quaint little mug.
When I ask myself what fuels my expectations for my life, I certainly know comparison and striving for what could be play a huge role.
Paul faced the struggle for contentment. When writing his letter to the Philippians, he said, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (4:11-14).
The last part of that passage is pretty popular among athletes, but apparently Paul was talking about learning contentment in the prison cell from which he wrote, not about winning his basketball game. I can only imagine Paul really needed God’s strength. After all, he had gone from being a big wig among the Jewish people to an imprisoned preacher writing letters to a motley crew of churches.
For me, discontent happens when reality does not match up with my expectations, and when my expectations are determined by what the world says I should value, I am disappointed every time.
Perhaps it is time to change my mind, to change my values, and ask God (not Instagram) for His vision for my life. If His Word and His ways through history are any indicators, His vision for my life includes more people, more interrupted schedules, more simple, more suffering, more sacrifice. When I read about the people who followed Jesus with their everything, I am also reminded His vision for me includes more miracles, more satisfaction, more love, more life!
Like Paul, may I learn to be content when I am brought low and when I abound.
When I have abundance and when I am in need.
When I go to work and when the weekend arrives.
When I travel abroad and when I am planted at home.
When I am suffering and when I am rejoicing.
When I am having grand adventures and when I am performing tasks at home.
When I have money to spend and when I am called to give all my money away.
When life seems like everything I hoped for and when I am left wanting.
Lord, when so many things could be my vision, I pray it would be only you.