Discontentment. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines discontentment as the condition of being dissatisfied with one’s life or situation. Discontentment will always convince us we need just a little bit more. Discontentment will always push us to compare ourselves to someone else. As Justin and Trisha will argue, where discontentment lives, brokenness thrives.
The problem with discontentment is we can never satisfy it. When discontentment enters our lives, we begin to believe we would be happier with something new and something different. We entertain thoughts that if this one egregious situation in our lives would change, then everything would be better. When discontentment enters our relationships, we think everything would be better if the other person would be a little bit more like someone else. Once these thoughts begin, they are difficult to stop.
When discontentment enters our lives we have two options – we can either entertain it or pray about it. The author’s of Beyond Ordinary argue when discontentment enters our lives and we make comparisons to other people, the situation is not about the person or situation we wish we could change but our own hearts. We are broken people and as long as we allow our discontentment to live, brokenness will thrive.
While we entertain the discontentment of our lives, what we are really doing is telling God all the things he ISN’T doing in our lives. To state it plainly from the author’s – we stop focusing on the presence of God and start focusing on the presents from God. Concerning relationships (since this is what the book is about), we take our sights off the gifts our relationships are and focus on the gifts the person isn’t giving us.
Discontentment changes our teammates into opponents. While our desire for better relationships with those around us is good, the desire stems from a self-centered problem which is bad. Why is it bad? Because changes will not come from our attempts at changing someone else’s behavior, it comes by allowing God to change our hearts (I really hope by now you are noticing a theme).
Discontentment leads to ordinary in our lives. We picture our situations differently. We picture a new relationship with a different person. We create a world we perceive we want only to find we are never satisfied in it. We can’t love or receive love unconditionally. We only ever see the negativity around us.
God has a vision for our lives and it goes beyond simply existing. This vision is fulfilling. God wants us to have 1 Corinthians 13 relationships. He wants us to have relationships that never give up, never lose faith, are always hopeful, and endure through EVERY circumstance. We can only have this if we follow His vision and not our own. We can only have this when we allow Him to work in our lives, even if this means stripping our lives of everything we use to find security, identity, and value in so he may bring us closer to Himself (as he did for me).
A struggle many of us face is equating our own desires as following God’s will. We ask ourselves is it really discontentment or is it what God wants? This is where discernment between God’s will and our hidden impulses is of the upmost importance. This is where we pray (and never stop praying) because God will answer this prayer for us.
As a whole, we can become more concerned with what we accomplish than who we are becoming. The couple notes our lives are a culmination of crossroads and decisions we have made. When I say crossroads, I don’t mean when I’m running the bear trail and I have to decide whether to turn on 3rd street by the library or run a little further to 8th street and run by the dorms. Justin & Trisha speak about crossroads that can change our lives. Usually these crossroads will look like two “right” possibilities. The difference between an ordinary crossroad and extraordinary crossroad is found at the center of selfishness or selflessness, but we cannot have both.
Pastor Andy Stanley says “Our direction, not our intention, determines our destination.” This is a tough quote to comprehend, but basically he is saying as good as our intentions may be, they could actually become the enemy of realizing our potential in life. Consistent choices in a single direction will undoubtedly determine our destination. While major choices at crossroads such as moving or changing jobs will determine our destination, the small, incremental choices to pursue selfish desires could sacrifice our potential.
The couple uses the example of Samson. He was undoubtedly gifted to do great things for God, but his entire life was a series of crossroads where he chose what he wanted as opposed to what God wanted for him. Samson was to live by the Nazirite laws and instead followed his own desires. While Samson still did great things for the Lord, the consistency of following his own selfish desires prevented him from reaching his full potential for God. Selfishness will never bring the relationship with God, or with others, we desire.
Discontentment pushed Justin to compare Trisha to her best friend. Discontentment pushed Trisha to always want more from Justin. Discontentment cannot allow for a 1 Corinthians 13 relationship to survive. Through all the good times it’s easy to say love endures through every circumstance, but the moment the crossroads come is the moment we have to move beyond simply saying it and act on it. Every circumstance is what makes relationships extraordinary and we have to fight for extraordinary. The discernment between God’s will and our desires will ultimately lead us to extraordinary.