So you feel discontent? You’re not alone. Whether you’re single, married, in a career or trying to find one… contentment is something everyone is trying to secure.
But everyone’s situation is different.
Maybe you’re out of college and still unsure what you want to do with your life. Degree in hand, but unsettled in your heart.
Or you have a job that pays well but feels void of purpose.
You may have an amazing spouse, children, job, but still feel like there is more you’re supposed to do.
I don’t know your story. I just know that discontentment is something we all deal with. I’d like to say the simple solution is to be thankful for what you have. But practically how do we get there? And when is it ok to not be content and move towards a much-needed change?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I especially don’t proclaim to have your answer. But here are three things I’ve tried that have helped me. Maybe they will help you too.
1. Stop watching tv for a month.
During the month of November, my wife and I have eliminated television from our lives. Except for the occasional weekend show. It’s our rule, so we get to define how it works. Don’t judge. Anyway, it’s been amazing how much contentment we’ve discovered in just being together, undistracted.
Previously we’d ask each other about our day, play with our children, and the usual…but once the conversation or the game with our child came to a lull.. we’d hit the tv button. It was just easier to veg. You can probably relate.
However, now when there is a lull in activity or conversation, we resist the urge to turn to television or our phones and do our best to be present in the moment. Through being present we’ve discovered new games or sang more songs with our children. We’ve had deeper conversations with each other. We have more laughter and joy because we pushed through the lull.
What I’ve found is that contentment is rarely found in routine. It’s found in the pushing through the normal lulls we encounter to see what lies on the other side of ordinary.
When we push through the lull of conversation, we can often find a better one.
When we play with our children a little longer, they reveal to us a wonderful part of their personality we may have missed.
When we push through the routine of work, eat, tv, sleep….
When you push through whatever you call “normal”, you can begin to find the extraordinary that lies right on the other side of ordinary.
On the other side, we’ve found a piece of contentment we haven’t held before. We might not know what happened on the most recent “A Million Little Things” and/or see how Toby was doing on “This is Us” (a glimpse into my world… again no judgment) but we’ve discovered the deeper realms of those we call family and friends.
2. Spend quality time with people.
I have often found that when I feel discontent, I also experience a void of purpose, and purpose is most often experienced in connection with others.
In life, it’s easy to get caught up in what needs to be done and neglect spending time with people. Work projects, laundry piling up, groceries that need to be bought… the necessities of life are endless. Sometimes, this results in us becoming hermits. We don’t intend to isolate ourselves, it just kind of happens.
Hermit syndrome isn’t just for the introverts. You can love spending significant amounts of time with people yet have very little quality time with them.
Whenever I’m in a season of discontentment, what I’ve found is that I need to start investing into others more consistently. For me…
When your work or life is void of personal impact, it will cause you to question why you are doing it. You were made to make a difference. A difference for someone. Your heart will always feel void of purpose when people aren’t heavy on it.
3. Figure out what you want and bring it to Jesus.
Sometimes when I feel discontent, I can’t accurately articulate what I would really want my life to look like if I could change it.
Discontentment is often felt most in the unknown.
So, as someone wise once said… Know thyself. If you don’t know what you want, do the hard work of figuring it out. Talk to a trusted friend. Seek out a mentor. Get counseling. Do. The. Work.
Figuring out what you want now doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. It simply means you have something to bring to Jesus that He’ll either affirm or burn.
Whaaaaat? Yes, you read that right. Whenever we bring what we want to Jesus He will either affirm that it aligns with His heart or He’ll tell you to burn it up. Notice I didn’t say… ASK. He’s LORD, not an advisor. He’ll tell you to stop feeding that desire or to give it more attention and drive.
Jesus has a way of filtering out what best for us. He’s the creator of life, so He knows how best to live it. Maybe what you want right now, isn’t what God wants. Or maybe the things you want are exactly what God desires for you.
How do you find this out? Seek Him. Know Him. Get so close to Jesus that He doesn’t have to give you a neon sign from Heaven. Instead, tune your heart so closely with His that His desires become your desires.
Maybe then we’ll stop asking altogether what to do with our lives because we’ll be so infatuated with living out His.
Here are a few questions I’ve found to be helpful in figuring out what I want my life to look like:
- What am I passionate about? What would I do for free if I could? (Passion)
- How could God use that passion for His purposes? (Purpose)
- If I had the opportunity, would I use it for His purposes? (Faithfulness… Why would God entrust us with something we would corrupt?)
- Does this sound like something Jesus would want?
- Does this support or stop what He’s already called me to do?
- Would this corrupt my heart?
- Am I ready to put in the work?
If you need an example… here is how I’ve defined what I want my life to be about. My life is obviously more than what’s listed below, but it’s becoming a guiding light for me when discontentment creeps in.
- ONE STEP CLOSER: I want to meet people where they are and take them one step closer to knowing and following Jesus.
- CHARACTER BEFORE COMPETENCY: I want to help leaders make character development tangible in their lives and a priority in their hearts.
You wouldn’t believe how much contentment you’ll find when you define what you want, bring it to Jesus, and begin to pursue what He affirms with passion.