Straight from a Contented Heart
By Lisa Elliott
Years ago I found myself struggling with something that I just assumed was as simple as that—a struggle. I was facing circumstances in my life that I wanted to be different. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? If only my circumstances would change, then I’d be happy! Now that was a problem.
I shared my struggle with a very close friend who, in turn, called me out on it. She told me that what I was actually struggling with was not, in fact, a mere struggle but an ugly attitude called discontentment. Ouch! Then she said something that landed squarely on this heart of mine. “You’ll never be content where you’re going until you’re content with where you are.”
My friend’s words hit their mark. I gave some humble thought and consideration to them before taking them to my prayer closet for further exploration. Although it was hard to face the truth, my friend was absolutely right! And as I allowed this simple truth to move in and penetrate my heart, it became evident that the Lord wanted me to tuck it away for safe keeping. Not only for that moment in time but for years to come. (Of course, the Author of my heart knew that I’d have to face the same kind of struggle over and over again in a variety of situations and circumstances down the road.)
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, contentment is: feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation. Oxford Dictionary defines it as: A state of happiness and satisfaction.
For the record, contentment does NOT mean complacency. We can be content with “what is” while still desiring more of what God has to offer us. However, He wants us to first find absolute joy and contentment in Him—void of people, places, position, or possessions.
So then, what is at the root of discontentment? And why do we struggle with it so? (Notice, I’m including each of you in this equation knowing full-well that it’s something we all struggle with from time to time.)
I don’t know about you, but what stirs my discontentment in many cases is wrong focus. Focusing on and comparing myself, my gifts, my resources, my abilities, my looks, my problems, my possessions, my relationships, and my circumstances with what others have or what others are doing or what others think or approve of. And as I have personally committed and recommitted various situations to the Lord over the years (twice on Sundays) I can see how discontentment not only feeds, but breeds: anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, self-pity, and so many other hungry beasts. (By way of warning, and speaking from personal experience, social media can breed this wrong focus.)
When we give in to discontentment we begin to listen to lies such as: I’d be content if only…
- If only I could be married.
- If only I was able to bear children.
- If only I could be rid of that person or this situation that’s causing me so much trouble.
- If only I had more money, more time, more energy, or more freedom.
- If only I lived in a different place, a bigger place, a prettier place.
- If only I was retired.
- If only…
Meanwhile, if only we realized that by focusing on and consuming ourselves with those things we don’t have, or circumstances we want to be different we miss out on blessings that are right in front of us. Our prayer closet becomes overwhelmingly consumed by what shouldn’t be in there in the first place! And in turn, we are robbed of the joy and happiness and fulfillment that Jesus intended.
If only we were content!
What are some situations you’re facing that is breeding discontentment in your heart? Why not take some time to commit them to the Lord right now? Take it from my friend; you’ll never be content where you’re going until you’re content where you are.
Straight from a Contented Heart,
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength…And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:12, 13, &19).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org