by Kelsey Mortimer
I’m not sure when I realized that I never truly felt satisfied. With myself, with my husband, with my job, with my church. Perhaps it’s just innate in a type A personality. I’m not sure, but I’m sure of this: I’ve struggled being satisfied.
If you know me, you know I profess to hate shopping. I do. But it’s not really shopping I hate. It’s the stirring of dissatisfaction with what I have that I hate. I also don’t like marriage conferences. Same reason. I’ve been happily married for 20 years but listening to someone talk about all the things we should be doing to keep our marriage happy somehow, for me, translates into dissatisfaction with my husband.
My dissatisfaction isn’t necessarily always for unhealthy things. I am quite certain that when the missionaries come to church and share not everyone is hit with a deep longing to pick up and move to a third world country. I am. Is my job as eternally significant or fulfilling as that? I often think about the lack of eternal significance in creating business software for the corporate world. It just seems like useless toil even if it does pay the bills.
Heck, I’m not even satisfied with what I’m writing right now.
Everyday I am presented with opportunity to be dissatisfied. Everyday I have opportunity to glorify the greener grass on the other side of the hill.
Enter God’s word.
Godliness with contentment is great gain. I Tim 6:6
Sounds nice, maybe a bit lofty, but I’d take a dose of godliness and contentment to have great gain, wouldn’t you? So, what’s the trick to grasping this all too elusive contentment?
At the root of dissatisfaction is an unmet desire, a sense of incompleteness. As foreigners and strangers in this world we have eternity set on our hearts. Contentment will always remain elusive if we don’t take time to connect with the Creator who set this eternity on our hearts. It’s the churchy thing to say, but that doesn’t make it any less true. We thirst for something that can only be found in relationship with God. We were created in His image to fulfill His purposes. If we don’t start and end here, we will not find freedom in this area. Even so, we must acknowledge that at some level we will always be a bit dissatisfied until we see God face to face.
But for here and now, perhaps we could channel our desire for more in a meaningful way rather than allowing it to breed negative thinking and greater dissatisfaction. Let’s take my unmet desire to go be a missionary as an example. I was in Uganda on a short-term mission praying for God to fulfill my heart’s desire to move somewhere, like Uganda, to be a missionary when I heard His voice. He asked me if I was willing. I answered, of course I am. And then I heard Him say, many are willing but not many are obedient. What, Lord? Am I being disobedient in longing to serve in this way? In that single statement, God gently redirected me. Although He had set this longing desire in my heart, He didn’t plan to move me. He expected me to fulfill that unmet desire by becoming a missionary in whatever circumstances He placed me in. No more glorifying being a missionary elsewhere, no more pining away to minister to those I could not. Simply put, God was asking me to be a missionary in my workplace, in the neighborhood, in the city where He had placed me.
Sometimes we’d rather not be content with where God has ordained us to be. We choose to long for something we don’t have. We choose disobedience when our circumstance turn out different than what we had in mind. Disobedience breeds separation from God. Separation from God results in unmet desires, a sense of incompleteness, dissatisfaction. See the vicious cycle?
The moments, days, and months I am most satisfied are those when I am being obedient to fulfill His purposes for my life right where I am. When I express gratitude for the little things in front of me, my perspective is changed and I see with new eyes. As I’ve learned to be a missionary where I am, I’ve seen Him bring the nations to me. Within my everyday job, I’ve shared Christ with co-workers from India, Ukraine, Ethiopia and more. I’ve also discovered the rich opportunity to minister to the growing refugee community relocating right into our own backyard. It’s satisfying to know I’m being obedient to share Christ with people in ordinary places, because it bridges the gap of my unmet expectations.
If you struggle to find contentment like I do, grab a Bible, curl up in a cozy chair and start by pouring out your heart to Him. Meditate on 1 Thess 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” Make a list of things you’re grateful for and acknowledge that wherever you are right now is God’s will. However, you do not have to stay the same even if your circumstances do. Let Him satisfy you with His presence. Let Him renew your mind about your current situation. God will be faithful to give you an action plan to fulfill the unmet desires lingering in your heart. His plan might be a tad different than you had in mind but it will be His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Any way you look at it, life’s too short to spend pining for greener grasses when you’re sitting in a field of roses.