Learning Contentment

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Satisfaction is a simple yet profound experience. There is nothing better than being satisfied, but most of us struggle to find meaningful satisfaction.

I would have to say that ever since I’ve gotten sick I have struggled with satisfaction.

Looking at my calendar today, My appointments would make it appear that I try to stay busy and focused on recovery, but most days I fail to meet any expectations I set for myself. I usually fail to do eighty percent of my to do list. Why is that?

After some thought, I believe I have one driving agent: discontent.

To make this very clear, I feel like I have to say a couple things to anyone reading this. Discontent is the real issue and laziness is my response. Laziness is the outward expression of the discontent I feel inwardly. I am slow and hesitant to share my discontent.

There’s a big part of me that doesn’t want anyone to know this struggle. Most of my hesitation comes from my focus on disappointing people who are so encouraged by what God has done in my life. I fear that sharing my battle with discontent will discourage those who seem more grateful then I sometimes feel. Not to say that I’m not grateful or encouraged, but I definitely don’t experience joy as much as one would expect.

My dissatisfaction (discontent) with life as I live it now comes from the the long-lasting effects of my health issues. I struggle with being discontent in my inability to stand and walk independently. I struggle with being discontent in my vocal abilities – going from teaching and preaching to fumbling over certain letters. I struggle with being discontent in my physical strength. I struggle with being discontent in handwriting and typing. Those are general examples, but I felt it would be good for me to explicitly state for transparency sake.

I was reading the book of Philippians yesterday, and I just felt this heavy weight of conviction. I knew I was reading something for exactly what I was currently experiencing.

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.”

Philippians 4:10-12 (CSB)

I underlined the word “learned” for a very specific reason. Learning something requires experience and a deep understanding, but those verses don’t say what sustains his ability to rejoice in the midst of plenty or in need. That’s sort of the problem, isn’t it? Most of us, me very much included, search for the answer for the key to contentment (satisfaction).

Just read the next verse.

“I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13 (CSB)

Okay, before you dismiss this verse because the cliche this verse has become, think about the beautiful context. Paul wrote this because of the suffering he was experiencing (torture, beatings, shipwrecks, long-lasting health issues, etc). He is not saying that he can do anything just because he believes in Christ. He is stating that in suffering and times of peace he has learned contentment. But, how the heck do you learn contentment?

Jesus is the answer.

If I really want to be content I will reflect on Christ and learn from Him. He is the perfect example of enduring suffering while being content with His purpose. He suffered throughout His life, including the heinousness of the cross, and yet the Bible says He willingly submitted Himself (contentment in the Father’s plan).

Philippians 4:13 says “through Him,” so all those things I am struggling to be satisfied with can only be satisfied with faith in Christ and His plan for me.

Now… all that said… I doubt that at times. I don’t always actively buy into the truth of that verse. I am not perfect, so there are times when I am discontent even as I acknowledge the Bible is truth. There have been days, weeks, and months over the last two years where I have ignored this struggle. I have put on a good face and said things are going well, when the truth is this: I am dissatisfied.

How am I going to learn contentment? Being in the word of God, prayer, journaling, being open with friends, family, and my church family. Also, I think I’m going to look into counseling, which I hate saying publicly but I think its important to be open right now.

If you want to be involved, these are a few things to consider trying: prayer, talking with me about non-therapy things (any medium is fine), sending sermons/Scripture/music, etc. If you want to be involved in this journey towards contentment, it would be greatly appreciated.

I have not experienced contentment as of late, but hopefully God will guide me towards a deeper faith and understanding the Gospel of Jesus.

Jacob Luis Gonzales

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One thought on “Learning Contentment

  1. I think that this is a really smart observation. Contentment is something we have to learn, we don’t just wake up one morning suddenly content with our lot in life. It’s a process, and some people have worked through that process and some haven’t. I know people with tremendously difficult lives that are surprisingly content, and I know many people with relatively simple lives who are just never happy no matter what they have.

    On another note, looking into counseling is very wise. You’ve experienced SO much trauma and so many changes in such a short amount of time. I’m sure your mind and heart could use some healing along with your body, know what I mean?

    I’m thankful for you and your family. Thanks for sharing this today.

    Like

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