A note from Kelly King: Do you struggle with contentment? If we were all being transparent, I would guess most or all of us have. Whether it’s contentment in a relationship, in ministry, or in our work, it’s something all of us must confront. In today’s article, Kaye gives us four practical ways to work toward living with more contentment in our lives.
Our current culture has a curious way of pursuing and defining contentment. We have been taught (by our culture) that contentment in life is the result of satisfying your every desire. If you have the right home, the right job, good relationships, abundant finances, good health, or the perfect body, then you are content. Conversely, we learn that if we are in a hard, difficult season or a season of pain and suffering, then we cannot be content. The truth is, contentment is not a result of our circumstances. The Apostle Paul wrote this in Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV), “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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.”
Are you feeling the pain of discontentment? Are you facing this new decade with unmet desires or less-than-ideal circumstances?
Here are four ways to transition from the pain of discontent toward finding contentment:
1. Practice being content; it is a learned skill.
In the verses above, Paul says, “I have learned to be content” (emphasis mine). Contentment is not a result of circumstances but of a certain way of living; it is an intentional choice. It is a daily choosing to view our circumstances through the lens of a loving Father and greater purpose and leaning in to His strength to do so. No, it’s not easy. It is a daily surrender and a learned skill. Practice.
2. Trade hidden expectations for realistic expectations.
We set ourselves up for discontent when we pin our hopes on hidden or unrealistic expectations. When I married my husband (33 years ago), I had a hidden expectation that he would know my every need, meet every desire of my soul, and satisfy my every desire. While he is a wonderful man, my expectations for him were totally unrealistic. I was sorely disappointed until I learned to trade my hidden expectations for more realistic ones. Expectations must be based on reality.
3. Cultivate and practice gratitude for less-than-perfect things and situations.
Scripture speaks repeatedly about having an attitude of gratitude and its benefits to our souls. If this is challenging for you, consider reading Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts.
4. Finally, give your one and only life to the one thing which can satisfy your soul.
Please don’t waste any more of your life chasing after lesser things. What is the one thing? A life given over to Jesus, of course. I love what the prophet Isaiah wrote in chapter 55:1-2 (NIV), “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”
Do you want your life to be defined by contentment in 2020? Do you want to finally trade in the pain of discontent for true contentment? Me too. Let’s lean in to His strength and release our hidden expectations for our good and His glory.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.