- kathryn foreman
discontentment doesn't have to be disabling
C.S. Lewis' most common quote is "if we find in ourselves a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world." In my opinion this is one of Lewis' most popular quotes because it rings true for everyone (everyone I have ever met at least). Part of being human and living on earth is dealing with discontentment because we are meant to live for heaven, not earth. So, no one likes being discontent right? We constantly fill our days with different distractions in an attempt to be satisfied, to "be happy."
I wanna talk about this happiness for a sec. You're probably about to stop reading this because "ugh this is just another chick telling me to 'be happy' & quit complaining about life!" Well, yes you should do that, but I'm not gonna talk about it. Happiness is based on the happenings of this life, which we have zero control over. Our mood can go from zero to a hundred (& vice versa) real quick. Happiness is fleeting. BUT, JC says we can "Rejoice ALWAYS". What?? How tha heck do we do that if happiness is fleeting? WE don't, HE does. John 15:9 says, "that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete//full." God's heart is for YOUR joy. If that doesn't give you chills I don't know what will.
As well as being fleeting, "happiness is overrated and always underperforms" (Dave Divine). To really have the "Joy of the Lord as our strength" like Nehemiah speaks about in chapter eight we gotta do more than just ask God to make us happy, we gotta ask him to abide in us with his perfect peace and Joy. Asking God to abide in you is great, he's already there, but getting us to abide in him is the tricky part. See, we like to do this thing called striving. Seriously, we strive/stress about EVERYTHING. If our nail breaks, we get a new zit, or the barista puts too much/too little vanilla syrup in our latte it can put us over the edge. Granted yes, there are bigger things we worry about like physical illness, financial issues, family problems, etc, but even stressing about the "big" things doesn't do any good.
A few years ago I had a big out of state race coming up and so my dad printed me off a note before I left. This front and back slip of paper has been my anthem for the past few years, not just at races, but in all areas of life. I pretty much have it down word for word in my heart and mind. The note starts with mark 15 and how "the branch" (you and me) will never produce fruit (love, joy patience, peace, etc... ) unless it stays connected to "the vine" (Jesus). According to Merriam Webster striving is "to struggle in opposition." This is how I live my life most days. I constantly analyze every aspect of my life and think how this & this & that could be bigger & better if I do this or this. I spend more time thinking about how great my life could be and how discontented I am with it at the moment than I do actually trusting and allowing God to make it great. This discontentment and striving then becomes disabling. I start to believe I don't have an epic life and I think about how I'm not a spectacular person. That's just what striving does, it will only take you to negative (lie filled) places, there is no benefit to it whatsoever. I don't know why stress is our natural reaction instead of believing Jesus is who he says is, but it is. This only means we have to work harder to abide than we do to strive. We can be doing for God, but if we are doing a lot of that doing without Him we aren't abiding and we aren't gonna be joyful or get much of anything accomplished. Imagine if we actually abided in Him like he calls us to. Stress and tension would just be some more words in the dictionary that we don't understand haha. Walking in his timeline instead of trying to plan our own, listening to his voice for direction instead of trying to blaze our own trail, that's abiding.
So how do we do abide? I could pretend to give you some planned out perfectly timed solution, but there's not one. Abiding is defined as "enduring" and "continuous." The secret to abiding? sitting. yep. you read that right. Sitting with God. Closing the door, turning off the TV, getting a fresh cup of coffee, and sitting with your bible in your hand and a prayer on your tongue. This doesn't mean you only sit when you have time, no you make time. If you have to get up at 4 am you do it. You MAKE time for jesus because he ALWAYS makes time for you (even though he's running the world we are so busy stressing out about). He's abiding in you, you just gotta abide in him too.
But then you gotta go back into the world tho right? This is the hard part. We get tired and overwhelmed real quick when we open the door cause we are tossed in with all the people who are striving instead of abiding and it rubs off on us all day. Bad news, when you start to feel stressed again you've left God behind. Sometimes when we leave our "sitting" spot we close the door in Jesus' face on the way out. It can't work that way. Abiding isn't part time, it's 24/7 or it doesn't work.
You know what the very middle verse of the bible says? Psalms is the middle book (we all know that cause in Sunday school they had us find the center of our bible and flip there every time we read in Psalms and it was always a race to see who could flip there first) and the middle verse is psalms 103:1-2. It says "1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits." The word Lord is the very center of the text, of the WHOLE bible. God is so precise. The fact that he planned every word of the bible perfectly & just so you and I could know how important it is that he is at the center of our lives is pretty cool to me.
Long story short Jesus wants us to quit our striving and abide by really making Him the epicenter of ALL we do. I'm always thinking about the next cool thing I can go do instead of abiding in the awesome place God has me in. Let's not just make an attempt to, but actually fight the striving of this world together by making time to sit with him no matter how tired we may be. I'm praying like crazy that I would stop allowing my discontentments and "unhappy" days of striving to quit disabling me from rejoicing always. The Joy of the Lord is our strength ladies!! (and gents if any guys read my blog haha). Also praying this over EVERYONE reading this. I know how crippling discontentment can be and I don't want ANYONE to have to live this adventure filled, epic, day by day life on crutches. Here's to abiding instead of striving!