Tuesday, October 23, 2012

contentment or longing?

What do you think of when someone brings up contentment?

What do you think of when someone talks about a longing for something?

Contentment and longing. Two words that bring a variety of responses.

I’ve gone back and forth on whether I like contentment more in my life or living with a long for something different. I always thought it had to be one or the other. That’s how it was taught to me.

I would tell people I long to get married one day and they tell me I have to be content with being single first. I would tell people I wanted children of my own one day and they tell me I have to be content with not having children of my own first. Rightly or wrongly, these comments told me it’s an either or.

But, lately I’ve discovered something about these two words that changed things in my life. It’s not and either or. It’s a both and.

Contentment and longing can both exist in my life. It’s not a case of choosing one or the other. I can embrace both at once. And it makes my life better. I can be content with things in my life right now and still have a longing for things I don’t have.

I can be content with a great job, a ministry to serve in at church that I love, an amazing family, and good friends. But, I can also have a longing to be married and have a family of my own. The contentment and the longings can coexist in my life.

A life without contentment sees us always running to the next thing. Our longings start to rule. Life becomes hurried and busy.

A life without longings is boring. We just go through each day doing what we always do. Nothing seems to change.

But when we combine the two, we live a better life. We learn to fully appreciate all we currently have. We also keep things moving as we long for something more and different.

It’s a challenge to find this balance, but I believe it is a must. We have to stop telling people they must be content with things the way they are and have no longing for anything else before God will allow anything to change in their circumstances. This simply isn’t true. And if they really followed that advice, nothing would ever change because they wouldn’t want it to change anymore.

What we need to do instead is learn how to keep our longings in check. We can’t let them rule our lives, but we can’t put them away for good either. We have to learn to walk the line between being controlled by our longings and becoming so content with how things are we don’t ever change.

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