Capturing Contentment

We play a never-ending game with ourselves, saying we'll finally be happy when... Fill in the rest of that statement with whatever you like-- when I graduate, when I get my dream job, when I can retire, when I get married, when I get my dream home, when I have a family of my own. We attain one thing only to immediately strive for the next. We never pause in the moment to cherish contentment with what we currently have. We feel like we're not good enough, our homes aren't good enough, our jobs aren't good enough, our lives aren't good enough. In our striving to have more, we subtly convince ourselves that our lives should somehow be more than what they are, and that the only way to achieve that is to work harder to get more stuff or achieve more accomplishments.

I have to catch myself and correct my thinking when my thoughts stray toward "life will be so much better when we move." It's so very easy to think that the bulk of my problems will be assuaged by simply relocating. Yes, some of the problems with my apartment will be gone, but there will undoubtedly be other things that crop up in their places (like a longer commute and higher monthly payments).

Nothing in this world can solve all of my problems and completely put me at peace. Our world is full of problems, both big and seemingly small. When we choose to believe that we are where we are for a reason, we give ourselves permission to be content in our current place and feel grateful for what we do have.

While we might believe that where we are isn’t where we should be, it could be exactly where God wants us to be. It is in our darkest and most challenging times that He trains us to build character. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) - Sarah Hahn, Relevant Magazine

I have this sense — because God never reveals His cards all at one time — that if I start walking into my interests and using the gifts He has naturally bestowed on me, that somewhere down the road I will find myself in the midst of a great passion. That if I surround myself with worship and put my hands to good works, even if I don’t know the whole picture, my story will slowly form around me and fill me when I’m not looking. - Maggie Bowling, (in)courage

Here's what I'm holding onto: A seed has everything it needs on the inside to become what it will be on the outside. I can't measure results or growth the way I prefer, as the growing first happens in darkness. I can't hurry the process the way I would like, as the breaking and sprouting take time. I can't force the seed to produce fruit other than what it was meant to bear, as the seed is a particular plant and doesn't change it's essence based on what is currently selling, popular, or marketable. Though it is not what it will be, a seed has all it needs even while carrying a hopeful vision for transformation in the future. I'm learning to embrace the small, hidden, slow-growing part of my soul and to practice the spiritual discipline of knowing I have everything I need. - Emily P. Freeman

I'm not suggesting we become complacent, eschewing growth and change for our betterment and the benefit of the world around us. I'm simply encouraging myself (and hopefully you, too) to stop searching for things that will fill us up and make us feel like we've become complete. We are works in progress.

We will never reach a point at which we are perfect on this side of Heaven. And that's okay. We need to find the balance between accepting who we are and where we're at in life and resist the urge to fall either on the side of unhealthy comparison and striving to achieve more or the side of thinking we've already become the very best version of ourselves and have no room left to grow.

As much as I like shopping for new things, improving my skills, sprucing up my home, and working towards my goals, I need this reminder to simply rest in the present. I need to be thankful for what I have instead of thinking it's not enough. There's nothing inherently wrong with the things we strive for, except when we start placing our happiness in attaining them. May we choose gratitude every day, resting in the places we find ourselves, knowing we're continuing to move forward, but letting God guide our pace instead of being driven by what the world tells us we need to have or need to be accomplishing. We have everything we need for today. Let's let that be enough.