I’ve recently found myself up close and personal with a beast that I think it’s safe to say we’ve all encountered at one point or another: Discontent, in all her envious, impatient, ravenous glory. Always demanding more, more, more. Never full, never satisfied.
In many ways, I’m living the dream right now. If you had asked me where I saw myself in five years when I was a sophomore or junior in college, I probably would have given you some variation of my “sensible, yet slightly vague and reserved for the general public” answer, and then secretly curled back up in that hidden corner of my heart where my wildest dreams reside.
This life I’m living today – living in paradise, doing work that I care deeply about – was one of those far-fetched, “corner of my heart” dreams that I tended to so quietly five years ago. I couldn’t have imagined that I’d actually land here, let alone so soon.
In turn, I find myself caught off guard and surprised every time I’m faced with the same insecurity, loneliness, or discontent I’ve struggled with for my entire life. I live on the very grounds that thousands of people flock to each year in order to grow in faith and community, and yet I often find myself battling spiritual dryness and grasping for deep friendships. I feel this sense of guilt for becoming somewhat numb to the mountain view I wake up to each morning, and for not always being perfectly happy or “okay” in the place that everyone else wishes they were at this present moment. I’m suddenly one of the people that I used to look up to as a pillar of wisdom and strength and maturity, and yet I don’t always feel wise or strong or mature.
Funny, isn’t it – how we build dreams up in our minds to the point that the person in those dreams hardly resembles us at all anymore? How no matter how hard we dream them away, our flaws and weak points stay with us and aren’t magically extinguished by a change in status, location, or context? How no dream come true can protect us from the fluctuating highs and lows of the journey?
I remember counting down the years until I got braces as a kid. From my nine-year-old perspective, shiny metal braces on your teeth meant that you had arrived in every sense of the word. Where I got this notion, I have no idea, but when my day finally came, I remember feeling a little deflated when I left the orthodontist and didn’t feel any different – besides feeling a little more uncomfortable with my mouth full of metal.
We all do this, don’t we?
Once I get that promotion, THEN I will feel confident in my authority and decisions. Once I am married, THEN I will be patient and kind. Once I am a parent, THEN I will be selfless. Once I am friends with that group of people, THEN I will feel like I’m enough. Once I have more money, THEN I will be generous.
And then we feel caught off guard and discontent when we realize that _______ didn’t fix everything and make us perfect people who have it all together.
I don’t have much of a conclusion, to be honest – no shiny bow to tie up these thoughts and make it seem like I’ve mastered them. Except to say that maybe this is exactly where God wants us – at the very intersection of our deepest passion and our deepest inadequacy. Maybe this is where his kingdom comes most fully in our lives. I’m reminded of the spring rains we’ve been having recently, and how – like sanctifying truth – they slap us upside the face when we’re least expecting it, and proceed to wash over us and help us grow.