When I was in the 5th grade, I was obsessed with the musical “Newsies.” Every single day when I came home from school, I would push the movie into my VCR player and fast-forward to the first song. After it was over, I would fast-forward to the next song. And then to the next one, and so on. I could care less about the boring dialogue — a good power-ballad by Christian Bale and a fun dance number were all I wanted.
My mind has been on “Newsies” a lot lately thanks to my little children, who insist on listening to the soundtrack in my car (something that thrills me, of course). Thinking about the way I watched this movie has made me realize that I too often act like my 11-year-old self at age 33. I still long to fast-forward, but instead of through a silly movie, it’s now through certain seasons of my life. Unable to simply push a button to race to what I think will be more exciting and happy parts, I try to find contentment by hoping and believing that my wants for the future will come to fruition. This has been my pattern for years.
As a single twenty-something, I remember telling a friend, “I am content being single right now – because I hope and believe I will get married someday.”
When I was not happy with a job, I consoled myself with the thought, “I am content in this position for the time being – because I hope and believe God will provide a better job one day.”
And now, as I dislike where our family is living, I often say to my husband, “I am content living here – because I hope and believe this is not permanent, and that He will lead us somewhere else eventually.”
I seek artificial contentment in my own selfish desires for the future instead of in God. And truth be told, this mindset never makes me feel any better, with my true discontentment still right there in my heart bubbling over.
Do you ever do this, too?
While it is not wrong for us to desire certain outcomes (in fact, wants can be good!), God specifically tells us in the 10th commandment not to covet. When we do so, our want becomes an idol. We can feel miserable as we wait, hope, and sometimes fight for our desire to happen, and we can become depressed when it doesn’t. Our coveting often forms the root of our discontent.
True contentment is finding our equilibrium – our satisfaction, peace, joy, and hope – in God alone. By surrendering our selfishness and seeking His desires instead of our own covetous ones, our trust in God’s provision can grow, with a real contented mind sprouting from our faith that God is right and wise in every single thing He does. We can live in light of God’s eternal purposes for our lives instead of our temporal wants, resulting in a more steadily faithful mindset and life.
When we go forward each day coveting our wants and wishing to fast-forward through life, we are missing out on the work God has for us to do, as well as on His blessings. That is why we must pray each day for contentment. The 1789 Book of Common Prayer beautifully beseeches the Lord, “Grant us minds always contented with our present condition.” May that be our prayer today and every day.