The Your Stories blogs are a place where women can bravely and authentically tell their story as it really is. We invite women to collide with Jesus and share how He is meeting them, transforming them and redeeming them. We hope this “your story” meets you in yours…
I find that I struggle with not feeling content most of the time. Whether it’s my current circumstances or the reflection staring back at me in the mirror, I have this nasty habit of being discontent and playing the comparison game. As we enter into the holiday season, this only worsens for me.
“Get [whatever item] and your life will be better!”
“Buy [whatever beauty product] and you will look even younger or more beautiful.”
“Purchase [whatever thing] and your family, friend or significant other will adore you!”
And it goes on and on. But I can’t simply blame America’s clever marketing tactics. As I dig deeper into my own lack of contentment, I begin to unravel what is truly lurking underneath.
On top of my usual body/life pick-a-part parties that go on in my mind, I have been struggling immensely lately with feeling discontent with my present circumstances. The job I have been in the last two years has left me feeling burnt out and passionless. My husband and I are ready to move on from renting to buying a home but the present market leaves us feeling discouraged. Family and friends seem disappointed with me as the fall season brought less time for them.
So I seek to control what I can, in order to compensate for the discontentment I am feeling. My body, my looks, my clothing, my home decor, my execution of projects, my “life” on social media.
I buy the shoes because she has them and I mean, come on… they will make me look much more stylish. I place the filter on my pictures I will post because it will make me seem cooler than I really am. I go out of the way for a friend in hopes that they will think how wonderful of a friend I am- how could they live without me? I decorate my home just so in hopes to win some compliments and be reassured I have some sort of skill. I complain about my current circumstances because look! She has it much better and is ACTUALLY doing what she is passionate about or has the home they always wanted.
These superficial and quick fixes I seek out to control by buying or doing are only temporary. But I continue to fall deeper into the trap of seeing another’s instagram post, friend’s job satisfaction, social media advertisement or fellow beautiful women and hear… you are not enough… you are not beautiful… you are not a good wife…. you are not a good friend… do…buy…be…you are simply not enough. Instead of trying to attack the lies that so quietly whisper in the back of my mind… I let them stir.
And before I know it, I sit in despair. Looking at all that I have purchased, all my actions and striving to find… it is still not enough. I still feel empty and not worthwhile. I feel discontent and helpless. Not only with my things and my life but worse… myself. It reaffirms my deepest fear: that I am not loved.
So I find that my discontentment is not just a superficial feeling of me buying into America’s marketing schemes, but a much deeper, darker, scarier condition of the heart, mind and soul.
What does one do in such a place of discontentment that leads to a toxic mindset and constant striving?
I found that King Solomon struggled with discontentment as well. Even though he was one of the wealthiest kings of Israel. Even though he could have anything he wanted. Even though he had great wisdom. He was discontent. And he decided to test “pleasure to find out what is good.”
King Solomon says, “I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
“I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.”
(Ecclesiastes 2:3-7b, 8-11 NIV)
As I read this, I am completely tracking with Solomon (except the “acquiring male and female singers” part).
Substances, products, creams, procedures, dyes, bigger homes, decor, furniture, appliances, money, jewelry, clothes, technology, social media.
Yep. I am guilty of using each of these to be content with myself. We deny ourselves nothing, no pleasure. We use all we can to fill the void and finally… be content.
“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless.” Which is a bit dramatic, King Solomon… like everything? But as we think and reflect on our own lives and on all of the things and stuff and actions we do just to achieve some sort of validation, part of us knows, deep down, that it will not grant us the meaning or significance that we so desire.
Jesus speaks on contentment too. But He gives us some sweet direction for our souls to soak in. He says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
I love how The Message takes on Matthew 6:21… “The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
No wonder you are discontent, Nina! You choose to look at the lies and the world in hopes that they will fill a place that was designed to be filled with something else.
And rather than the lie-believing and fixing and doing…
I want to choose Jesus as I wake up and as I go to bed. Not myself.
I want to choose to love and bless my family and friends over the next month in how I purchase gifts. Not to feel like I am a good wife or sister or friend.
I want to choose to be aware of my intentions and have them be a proclamation of Jesus in all I do. Not so others think I am so cool and stylish and whatever other silly things I think.
I want to choose to know the Lord’s will to be done in my current circumstances. Not my will.
I want to choose to know HE IS ENOUGH regardless what happens with my circumstances. Not I must have control because what is going on is not okay with me.
Even though I will fail to remember these truths, Jesus says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26 NIV)
Are you not much more valuable than the birds? Yes. You are! Tremendously so.
Not only can I choose to look towards Him and my heavenly home, but I can press further into the truth of His unwavering, no-conditions-accepting love and know He will continually care and correct EVERY step I take.
In this, He can change my heart and I can become content because He says one of the most important truths of all.
Nina, you are valuable.
Nina, you are worthy.
Nina, you are my loved one.
And so are you.