I struggle with discontentment. Why is that? I have everything I need to live not only a good life but a rich, full life. What’s more, I always have had.
People who operate from a posture of contentment intrigue me. They are busy people, but not too busy. They don’t have every skill and talent in the world, but they put to good use the gifts they have been given. They smile and show a genuine interest in other people’s welfare. Their countenances glow with satisfaction.
Have these people worked harder than I have to reach that state? Do they enjoy contentment because they are better people than I am and thus deserve it? Are they faking the positive attitudes they display? Have they made no mistakes that they regret and taken no missteps that veered them off course?
Then how do they do it?
Maybe if I asked them, they would give varying answers. I suspect, though, they all share some common qualities.
First, they have rejected the idea of needing to be perfect. They are good parents, good Christians, and good friends. But they are not perfect in any of those categories. They are imperfect employees and employers, imperfect housekeepers, imperfect money managers, and imperfect workers at the tasks they undertake. They know and accept their fallibility.
Second, they have learned to accept forgiveness. They rest in the assurance of God’s grace. They don’t obsess over their sins and ongoing weaknesses. They confess these failings to God and trust Him to forgive. Then, they do an amazing thing. They “grace” themselves with their own forgiveness. What an idea!
Thirdly, these people choose to be content. This doesn’t mean they repress their feelings of disappointment and sadness. It means that when they experience loss or grief, they do not respond by becoming bitter or angry. They bend, but they do not break emotionally or spiritually. They respond this way because they choose to do so and because they trust in God’s promises.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:6 True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. (NLT)
Contentment does not come to people who chase perfection, refuse to accept grace, and allow misfortune to defeat them. For these people, contentment is as elusive as a handful of fog. What great wealth they forfeit.
Can I stop demanding perfection of myself? Can I accept the grace God offers and then offer grace to myself? Can I make the choice to be content?
Yes. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13 NLT).