What does it mean to be discontent?
To be restless? Jealous or envious? Bitter or complaining? Ungrateful?
Probably it's a nasty brew of all of the above.
How can we be content when all around us we see things we want to do, to be, to have – and we can't, or we aren't, or we don't?
Contentment calls us to satisfaction with what we have and with what we are – but we are hardly ever satisfied. How do we keep from wanting what we don't have or can't get?
It is possible for us to see something we want and don't have, and still be content by turning our longing into positive action toward a goal.
But discontent isn't interested in working toward a goal. Discontent is only satisfied with sighing, envy, and a subtle sense of entitlement.
I should have a bigger house, I think. And probably a nicer car, and maybe a cleaning lady. And why are my kids so whiny? Kathy's kids don't whine. They should appreciate everything I do for them. I've practically given up everything fun to be their mom, so why don't they show a little more respect?
I tend to fall into discontent when I'm tired or overwhelmed. Self-pity can play a part, but probably ingratitude is the thing that pitches me into discontent most quickly.
When I fail to keep track of good things in my life by thanking God for them, I tend to take them for granted. I'm tempted to dismiss their significance. Even things I just knew would make me happy forever pale relatively quickly!
I allow myself to complain about things instead of evaluating them fairly and trying to improve them. Or I refuse to make changes God is calling me to make – and the price for my disobedience is a restlessness that gives birth to discontent.
I need a measure of maturity to be content: I need to be able to rejoice with those who rejoice – be happy for friends who enjoy more than I have. I need to be able to cultivate a thankful heart. I need to give up the expectations or desires that God asks me to give up. I need to take responsibility for choices I've made without complaining about the parts that are harder than I expected.
In return I experience the peace that comes with contentment.
This morning I was catching up on some correspondence when the doorbell rang. Meg was barking ferociously and dancing around the front door, so I hurried to see who was there.
Two women – one older, tired looking in the heat; one very young, really a child – were waiting. The older woman carried a briefcase, and when I opened the door she smiled a big smile and launched into her speech about how the Creator had made everything good and lovely, and wouldn't I like to read more about it in The Watchtower magazines she wanted to share with me.
I wasn't rude to her, but neither was I kind. I didn't offer her a cup of cold water, even though it is hot already outside, and humid. I missed an opportunity to smile at her and affirm that God is a good God, even though we disagree on so many other issues of doctrine.
I wasn't rude to her, but neither was I kind, and now I am sorry for it.
I was talking with someone else this morning who told me of a conversation with a loved one who blames God for everything bad that is happening in the world today.
I wonder, does he also thank God and give Him credit for everything good ?