God at Work, Personal Growth

The Source of Discontent

This week’s blog is about discontent. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as a restless aspiration (a strong desire to achieve something) for improvement. Do you know what I am talking about? Have any of you ever felt the restlessness that prods you, makes you feel uncomfortable and challenges you to shift gears?

If you’ve experienced that feeling of discontent, you’ll recognize the anxiety and frustration that comes when you don’t know why it is there. You rack your brain trying to figure out where it is coming from, how to get rid of it and then finally accept that it’s coming from inside of you for a reason.

When we look at this feeling of discontent, it is usually associated with something negative, when in fact it is just the opposite most of the time. Sometimes it can be a push in a direction that we know changes need to be made in, but we haven’t started or won’t start the process yet. We get so caught up in trying to maintain the status quo of comfort or managing our habits that we stop paying attention to how these little annoyances stack up. They practically beg us to pay attention and make the changes we know need to be made.

We can be dissatisfied with the way our body looks, the job we go to every day, the house we live in, the car we drive and find nothing but the worst in daily situations. But deeply embedded within each one of us is that longing to do something that has been in our hearts. There is a dream that is being stirred but we won’t take hold of it and allow it to happen.

Here is some great news! The changes we desire, the discontent we experience, the frustrations we accumulate are being built into a catalyst that sparks the very changes that need to be made on the inside before anything will ever be seen on the outside. We must be willing to let it happen and stop fighting the process.

When we fight the process, it delays God’s best for us. As people who recognize their need for God, we can still find ourselves fighting the battle between self-reliance and living our lives as John 15 states “abiding in the vine” and “doing all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).  We still believe, on some level, that if we make all the right choices then we can will those changes to take place and we can change ourselves if we try hard enough. Don’t get me wrong, we must be obedient to act when we are given instruction. However, if we could have willed ourselves to change, we would have already done so. What we fail to realize is, it is only in times of intimacy (constant ongoing communication) with God our Creator where the changes take place. When we encounter Him in prayer, He adds strength, wisdom and direction. We are not in this alone and we haven’t been since we accepted Christ into our lives. Our minds haven’t yet been renewed to a full understanding that it is in Him that the seeds of change are planted, the seed takes root, and the corresponding action is prompted.

In relationships with friends or even family members we can sometimes feel like we are talking to a wall, they don’t understand our concerns and may not always have time to listen. God is not like that! We can share our thoughts, anger, dissatisfaction, frustrations and pain with Him. What He adds to the equation is love, understanding, compassion, forgiveness and kindness. There is no condemnation when we bring our mistakes before Him. He forgives us when we ask and strengthens us for the steps to come.

That sense of discontent that we come to dread can be beneficial, but we don’t recognize it because we see it only as a negative. It can be an indicator that we’ve outgrown something in our lives and it’s time to take a step forward. There is a quote that I heard recently that says “Stop shrinking yourself to fit places you’ve outgrown” by Furaha Joyce.

When we try to shrink ourselves into a place with limits that we’ve already outgrown, we will never be comfortable. On the inside, we are ready to take the leap of faith but outside we’re still screaming “wait, I’m not ready.”  The next time we have that restlessness or discontent there are a couple of things to do.

First we must ask ourselves “What limitations have we have placed on God or ourselves that we are expanding to burst out of? Second, “Why do we automatically associate this feeling as one of negativity rather than growth?”

When feelings start stirring inside of us, we must take them to God in prayer and find out what His plans are for that area of growth. The alternative is for God to leave us exactly the way He found us. What would happen to our well-being if He simply left us the way we were? This would be torment, knowing what was possible yet not being able to live and receive His plan for our lives.

The last think I would say to you reading this post is that all of us have made mistakes. We’ve all fallen short and no one is perfect, NO ONE. Please don’t mistake the feeling of discontent that precipitates change for condemnation. The Word of God tells us that if we are in Christ there is no condemnation. This word in the Merriam Webster dictionary means “the expression of strong disapproval, and also the action of condemning someone to a punishment.” Does that sound like the God of the Bible that not only gave His Son for us but loved us so much that He provided a bridge so that we could be restored in relationship with Him through His Son?

When discontent rears its head the next time simply say to the Lord, “Here we go! You lead, and I will follow. I will commit the process of change into your hands and will simply obey when you give instruction. I trust you Lord!

Lessons Learned

  • Discontent or impatience stirring within us can mean change is coming or it’s time for change.
  • That feeling of restlessness doesn’t have to be negative we just usually associate it with something negative because it requires action on our part.
  • Change is positive, without it we would never grow into the people that God has created us to be and to do the things He asks of us.
  • Don’t mistake discontent with condemnation.

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