Recently, I’ve been feeling discontent in many areas of my life. I’ve been unsatisfied and I haven’t had the courage to voice that frustration until now. I’ve been meditating on Paul’s example of being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11) and praying that God would give me his perspective, but nothing’s seemed to work. Discontentment has lingered despite my best efforts. As a result, I’ve just been suffering in silence, certain that I’d get over it eventually, though how I would do that eluded me.
“You’re finding your identity in the wrong things.”
This was the word I felt the Lord whisper to me the other day. It’s amazing how one word from him can change everything!
My misplaced identity is the core issue at the heart of my contentment problem. Because my identity is still based in external things, when those things don’t line up as I see fit, I become the definition of discontent. My eyes get so hyperfocused on what I think my life should look like: where I should live, what I should be doing, what my bank account should look like, what size I should wear, etc. I can live in the land of should instead of remaining focused on the reality of who God is.
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)
The truth is, I’ve been living as if God isn’t enough. My actions have revealed that my heart believes that I need God plus all of these material possessions in order to be content. I haven’t been living as a child of God who believes that God is more than enough.
Relocating to the Land of Even If
Paul wrote quite a lot about contentment. He didn’t have everything he ever wanted, he lived through more than his fair share of tough times. He wasn’t faking it either, he didn’t write about contentment because that’s something good to say, he wrote the things he did because he actually lived that way.
I believe that, during the course of his life, Paul went from the Land of Should to the Land of Even If.
Even if God never heals me, I will be content.
Even if I don’t get this better job, I will be joyful.
Even if I never get married, I will serve God.
Even if this circumstance doesn’t get better, I will endure.
Paul didn’t will his way into changed behavior, he didn’t muster up contentment out of the blue. Instead, he learned to rest in the simple and profound truth that God is sufficient. He is more than enough for us and, because he’s a good Father, he will never leave us no matter what.
Right now, I have to daily, sometimes hourly, remind myself that God is with me, that he is enough, and that I don’t need to worry or fear. I can leave my house in Should Land and return to the truth of God’s word. I can take off the comparison goggles and trade them in for a new perspective. I can choose to lay down my will and choose his instead. I’m by no means perfect at this, but I am daily moving my home out of the Land of Should and taking up residence in Even If.
Do you ever take up residence in the Land of Should?
Are you walking through and Even If right now? How is God comforting you during this time?
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