I have a confession to make. I like new things. If I’m completely honest, I would like to have a new car. Or a new phone. Or new clothes. I really am thankful for all the generous things God has given me, but deep down, I find myself wishing for something a little nicer or a little newer. And before I know it, I find myself slipping into the roots of discontent.
Too often, we’re discontent with the superficial things in our lives. We’re trained to want bigger, better, newer, faster, and more expensive. We live in a culture that is constantly telling us that what we have is not good enough. And as dangerous as it can be to be discontent with the material things in our lives, it is even more dangerous when we find ourselves struggling to feel content with the more significant things in life.
Whether it’s struggling to feel content with our marriages, feeling inadequate about our parenting, or struggling with our physical appearance, so many times it’s easy to feel like we aren’t measuring up. Whether you are struggling to feel content with the material things in your life, or something a little deeper, I’ve found the following two principles help me to refocus my perspective:
- Stop Looking Around, and Start Looking Up. For me, the single most important factor in changing my heart has to do with my focus. In a world of social media, Facebook, and the perfect lives of Pinterest, everyone seems to always have their best foot forward. We can easily find ourselves comparing their best to our worst. When it comes to learning how to be content, the biggest favor we can do for ourselves isn’t to simply close our eyes to the things around us – but rather, to fix our eyes on things above.
All throughout scripture we’re challenged to remember that this world and everything in it is temporary. Everything in this life will one day fade away, and only one thing will remain: our relationship with Jesus. To really know and understand true contentment, we must realize that our hearts will only be satisfied when they are satisfied with Him. The most important thing we can do for ourselves is to look up, and allow our lives to be consumed by the only One who really matters in this world.
- Don’t Live in the “Shouldas,” “Couldas,” & “Wouldas.” Without even realizing it, we live so much of our time focusing on the past, rather than living in the present. It’s easy to fixate on the things we should-have, could-have, or would-have done if things had been different. Living in the past will never allow us to enjoy the present, or move into the future.
The enemy wants to use our past to fill us with regrets, doubts, and hopelessness because he knows that this kind of guilt will keep us paralyzed. But God’s voice takes our should-haves, could-haves, and would-haves, and invites us to live for the hope of the future, rather than wallow in the regrets of the past. Stop looking back, and keep looking forward.
No matter who you are, where you are, or what you’ve been through, God promises that by His power, true contentment can be a daily part of your life. Philippians 4:12-13 says, “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.”
If you struggle with contentment of any kind, pray today for a shift in perspective and a change of heart. True contentment will give you the opportunity to live every day to its fullest.