Contentment. Sometimes the word seems to evade me, flaunting itself just beyond my reach. One would think contentment should be calm and easygoing, patiently waiting for his companions to ease up alongside him. But he is not. I find contentment to be very energetic, dancing vivaciously ahead down the road, leaving me out of breath trying to catch up. When I seek the company of contentment, I always seem to lag behind, but perhaps this is only a perception.
I think I am not alone in being fooled into believing that contentment is a feeling. If I am content, then the evidence of my contentment should be exposed in the way that I feel. So often I battle with my feelings, longing to find contentment in Christ, wanting to be satisfied with where He has led me, and yet still feeling the pangs of unmet desires, even lusting after things that are not mine to have (at least in this time and place). In these moments I judge myself lacking in the quality of contentment. Inwardly I harass my soul for its selfishness, its lack of gratitude for all the good things God has placed within my life. My heart seems to have failed.
But what if it hasn’t? What if, like so many other aspects of the Christian faith, contentment is not a feeling, but a choice? I have begun to learn the lesson that love is not a feeling; it is a choice. When I love my family, my friends, my God, my feelings do not exude with easy affection and pleasure every moment of our relationship. Some days bring hard choices, choices made to pursue the actions and hard work of love even when the feelings are evasive. Is not contentment the same? The moments I find myself unsatisfied, maybe the true test of my contentment is not how I feel, but what I chose to do in the moment of dissatisfaction. Do I choose with my actions to be content despite what I feel? Do I press on to pursue what God has laid within my life? Do I run to his arms with my imperfect feelings and let him help me find contentment? Or do I give in to my feelings and let them carry me away?
I am encouraged to think that perhaps contentment isn’t always supposed to be a comforting feeling. Sometimes I think it is meant to be a struggle, and it is in the midst of that very struggle that I find my success. Instead of believing I have failed, I can rest in the fact that I am right where I am meant to be, fighting for something worthwhile.