On June 9th our Pastor shared a lesson entitled Coveting: The Disease of Discontentment. That was my first hint to the theme that would come across my path repeatedly over the subsequent days and weeks. We were challenged to examine the excessive desire to have what belongs to someone else. Although there are days when I think about how nice it would be to have her house with the pool, or his travel budget, I don’t usually notice myself trying to keep up with the Joneses. The disease of discontent hits us all in different ways but the indicators are seen in greed, reference anxiety, envy, and jealousy. The sad truth is that we have all been diagnosed with this particular disease. Thankfully our pastor reminded us that contentment, generosity, and well-placed hope are definite cures for what ails us.
But step number one in the healing process is realizing that we are infected. This not only takes admittance, but the willingness to dig deep in our own hearts.
Last Wednesday night my small group was gathered together and ended up discussing this very topic. (OF COURSE.) We were challenged to consider how coveting and discontentment rear their ugly heads in our lives. Prior to the discussion I had nodded my head in agreement at the sermon, but not really given a second thought to the way that I struggle with discontentment. When faced with the question I slowly began to realize my strain of the virus.
Confession time: I covet a lot of things. I want what you have. I covet your relationship with the Lord. I covet your dedication to prayer. I covet your willingness to serve on a moment’s notice. I covet your joyful spirit and pleasant demeanor even in the midst of challenging situations. I covet (and get irritated with) the fact that you seem to always seem to trust His will. I covet the way you are at peace with your body, personality, and life. I covet your contentment.
I did not share this at small group. I couldn’t bring myself to say it aloud, but I heard it clearly shouting from my heart. I gaze longingly at those around me who seem to have an intimacy with the Lord that I desperately desire but cannot seem to produce. I walked out of small group disappointed that I couldn’t share and unsure of what my next steps should be.
The next morning I opened up Soul Feast by Marjorie J. Thompson and began reading where I last left off…
“Whenever we talk about moving closer to God, it is natural to feel certain reservations… We may be afraid of what we would encounter if we came too close to God. It is one thing to be told what God is like; it could be another thing altogether to discover the truth for ourselves! What is God really like? Can we survive contact? Perhaps we feel anxious over what God might demand of us if we got too close. Maybe God would ask us to give up certain relationships, life dreams, or things we enjoy. God might call us to do something we felt we couldn’t do, like work with the poor or become a missionary in Borneo. Fears like these can certainly make us hesitant to explore the deeper reaches of relationship with our Creator.”
I know that’s a lot to take in, but it hit me straight in the gut. During the course of my reading I slowly began to recognize that the source of my discontentment isn’t really those I admire around me, but instead the source is really my own fears. Thompson’s words pinpointed the heart behind my coveting. Here’s what I wrote in my journal:
That’s my anxiety! I fear that He calls deeper than I am willing to go. I watch M, B, S, J, E, A, and so many others actively listen and then follow Him: down-sizing, adoption, prayer, service, withdrawing and yet connected, at peace and in union with you… hearing AND following. He gives them much, and they take the next step. I stay on the fringe, on the edge.
Thankfully discontentment has a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t have to stay in this place. And that’s what I’m praying today. I realize that motherhood will change all of my relationships in deep ways, including my relationship with the Lord. I’m asking more than anything that it might draw me closer to Him. I have hope. He’s not finished with me yet, and I certainly don’t want to throw in the towel and call it a day.
I recognize this was rambling and I wonder if it even makes sense. More than anything I know that I needed to share this struggle with someone today. I just happened to choose you. Thanks for listening.