“I just want to live my life like a young girl in her twenties should,” I said between tears, a runny nose and hiccups. “Is that too much to ask of you?” I continued after I caught my breath.
It was evening, and I was sitting on my bed in the tiny 10 by 8 feet room I was renting for $50/month. The room was a much needed blessing during a hard season in my life, but it was a blessing I couldn’t bring myself to appreciate. I was desperate to move out, but I knew my cries and the pain in my heart echoed other desires beyond my desperation to move. My life was far from what I envisioned it would be, and I couldn’t figure out what I did to deserve where I was. I desired more out of my life and myself, but I also didn’t know what to do to breakthrough. The frantic prayers I offered up felt flaccid and seemed to fall flat, and that evening wasn't any different. I was sobbing my anguish and also blubbering sounds into words that resembled prayer. I was drained and went from sitting in bed to collapsing onto it in exhaustion.
It was there, laying in my bed, and in the aftermath of my outburst that a familiar feeling rose up within my heart. It was a feeling I had been struggling to decipher for a few years now. It wasn’t a delightful feeling, but it was one I had become accustomed to. It wasn’t welcome, but it snuck in ever so often, sat on my heart, moved things around and took ownership. Earlier that day, it snuck in, I carried it around for a few hours and then it snuck back out. But here it was again, so I decided tonight was when I’d put a name or face to it. I sat up, pulled out my Bible and said a short prayer.
“Lord, I’m not sure why I keep having this feeling. I have had it for a few years now, and it is quite relentless this year. It comes in without warning, lodges in my heart and then slips out on its own accord…”
I wasn’t done with the second sentence when I heard the clear whisper of the word “Discontentment.”
It was the last word I expected and wanted to hear, but it was all I got, and maybe all I needed to hear. I wasn’t surprised, given the season of life I was in, but I wasn’t satisfied with the response and was unsure what to make of it. Honestly, it made me uncomfortable. Nonetheless, it was quite clear to me that my unfinished prayer had just led me to discontentment (If only God answered all my prayers as quickly as he responded to this one, but he is petty like that and I digress). :)
I thought to myself, “I’m discontent? What does that even mean and how do I fix it in this mess I call a life?” Perplexed, I opened up my Bible to check for its take on discontentment, and came across 1 Timothy 6:5 –10, “…they have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it, but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grief.”
That verse laid naked before me, and it clicked. I had been discontent for a while, and it was showing up in the way I chose to live. Over the past couple of years, the details of my life had fallen apart and had left me a little bit unhinged. However, I wanted to look like I had it all together so I turned my pursuit towards getting more, but though my pursuit was strong, things weren’t falling into place. My constant striving wasn’t pushing the cart down the road as fast as I wanted; I wasn’t getting what I wanted, and I wasn’t moving in the direction I wanted to move. Even when I did move, it wasn’t fast enough, hence, I hustled even more. My dissatisfaction also changed more than my focus, it shifted my motives, and as my motives changed, so did my heart and my words. I transformed into a murmuring, complaining, and in some cases, dishonest mess. My desire for success and change were not necessarily bad in of themselves, but they competed with my love for Christ, and He wasn’t about to have that. This was the last thing I wanted to be convicted of, but it was exactly what I needed to hear that night many years ago.
I decided the fight for contentment and peace in every season of life was a valid pursuit. It was a hard pursuit, and it meant I had to put myself, selfish, afraid and broken, before myself. I had to lay my motives on the table and examine my strivings. I wanted to go after the things I wanted and achieve them, but loosing myself, my joy, my peace and my values in the process wasn't going to be worth the pursuit.
Fast forward to today, and I confess that I still have outbursts, and discontentment is still in my battlefield. However, deep down underneath the brokenness that once accompanies my outbursts and the events that trigger them are steadfastness of hope and a basement peace built from lessons learnt and truth spoken out loud. The circumstances of my life still unnerve me sometimes, but they don't have the power to unhinge me anymore. I have had A LOT of prayer outbursts (read tantrums) in my life even after the revelation from that night, but now I go in with a new set of awareness, mindset and attitude, and I’m learning to walk in pace and in his timeline. When my heart breaks or I have a sob session about the state of my life, I do my best to vent and then praise it out (most times) to him before the claws of discontentment snatch at the broken pieces. I'm learning that his grace prevails through every season when I surrender my discontentment, because he is in control – wholly and solely.
PS: You are Immensely Loved!