As a country girl living in LA, it is easy for my heart to be drawn to all that isn’t available — open space, green fields, grazing deer and horses, and the list goes on. However, what I’ve noticed as I’m visiting “my country” is I can feel discontentment even there. It may look different but it is alive and well in my heart. Its presence has caused me to pause and reflect on ways in which I don’t take in the good of the moment, ways I compare, ways I envy, or ways I look at life half full.
What I know about discontentment is that it was in the beginning. In the very beginning, God created man and woman and there He gave them all they could imagine but told them they may not eat from one tree. Eventually, they couldn’t live without tasting its fruit, so they did. The garden was no more. With the presence of something they couldn’t have, they weren’t able to experience contentment with all they had.
I’m deeply aware of this reality growing up in a culture where I’m bombarded by advertisements of “needs” — billboards, internet advertisements on nearly every page, magazines, television programs, buses, and on and on the message continues, “you need what I’m selling.” I find marketing a bit easier to ignore or intentionally make decisions to live without and not need what I’m being told I do. What I’m finding harder to ignore, is the discontentment in my heart regarding personal growth, friend’s growth, situations, experiences of God, and anything that reminds me of our relational and spiritual brokenness. I want perfection. I want eternal goodness. I yearn for it. Yet, this side of heaven it is unattainable.
I live in a broken world. Possibly my feeling of discontentment are accurate. My heart longs to be one with God eternally — unbroken by thoughts, feelings, experiences stemming from my personhood. Yet, I cannot achieve oneness. I cannot get away from my sin or my heart, which is so full of me and my needs.
It makes me wonder if God Himself is filled with discontentment, only of a different kind. He is discontent without my full heart. Does He wait in anticipation as I wait longingly to be filled by Him for my heart, my full heart? Will He be in unrest until I’m completely filled with His love? This love of His gave me His only Son. He held nothing back and gave everything. And Romans 8 suggests that on top of giving us His Son, He graciously gives us all things. Yet, I don’t feel like I’ve been given all things. My heart goes to things that I haven’t been given, like children who outlive me, like life without years of depression, like a childhood without feelings of abandonment or rejection and so forth. I don’t know what it means to have all things given to me by God, or do I?
In my attempts to live in the present, I’ve learned one thing — I have everything I need. I’m breathing. God is with me. I’m lacking in nothing for this moment. As I live in this reality of having everything I need, my eyes open up to all the gracious gifts God has given me. Today it was jokes with family, fish partying in the lake — giving my eye a fish flop feast unlike anything I’ve seen outside a fish hatchery, wildflowers — Indian paintbrush, Lupin, and Grass of Parnassus to name a few, mountain views, and fresh raspberries off the vine, just like I used to have at my Grandmas.
He gives us all things. How often my heart needs to be reminded of this truth, which opens my eyes to all that is around me signaling His presence. I don’t mention this tritely, as one who is guilted into finding God in all things. I mention this because it is true. In the blackest hours of my life, when my son had died, He was there. He was there in the nurses who nurtured me. He was there in the food brought by friends. He was there in the tears as people were with us. He was with me over and over again.
In one way, that time in my life felt full of gratitude because my soul was filled with His love and compassion through those who came close to us. On the other hand, I wailed in want for my son to have lived, fueling discontentment. I had to hold both of those realities together, gratitude for what’s been given along with longing for what I don’t have. Today I must do the same. Recognize the abundance for which I’ve been given, while at the same time continue longing for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done. Jesus asked that His cup be passed from Him, that He wouldn’t need to carry His cross. I believe we can do the same. However, our task is to face into the journey we’ve been given as Jesus did, taking up our cross with the assurance God is there. And in our knowledge and experience that we’ve not been abandoned and will continue to be given all things, may we find contented hearts so we may see the gifts God has given us. Today. Now. In this Moment. We have everything we need.
A few of my gifts….