|from Digital gallery of the NYPL|
It's funny how I decide to write about discontentment at the end of the year and the beginning of the next when people are out shopping for new things with their gift cards and buying presents for family and friends. Our lives are full of parties and get-togethers, church services, extra helpings of our favorite seasonal foods. And facebook posts.
Pictures of friends at parties, traveling, doing things on their two weeks off work. It's a non-stop barrage of happy exciting and perfect posts. As soon as I log in to "the facebooks" as some call it in this corner of the south, I am immediately sent down a mental path of comparison.
"They get the whole week of Christmas off, and they get to go to this place and this place, and here I am sitting at work with only a half day on Christmas eve and the whole of Christmas day off."
"Must be nice to get together with friends that often... I never hang out with people my age it seems like."
"That's a nice new dress she got... I have to scour through my closet now and find some outfit I've had for years to wear to work."
"Hmm... he got a new job. Wish I could get a better one."
"Aw, they are expecting... wish we were at a point in life where we could start having kids..."
You all have had thoughts at least similar if not identical to these I'm sure. And I'm sure you don't mean to. It's a (sinful) natural response to the constant felt need of facebook users to brag/share/like or post about all the exciting happy things in their life. We have all done it!
Wait, I said sinful response? Yes. Being discontent in what the Lord has given you is a sin. It's like waking up Christmas morning, opening all the presents your parents bought you, and then immediately saying "I wanted the suzie talks a lot doll, and you didn't get it for me! I deserve it!" It is in a sense saying "What you have given me is not enough."
Which is ironic, because even after reading this verse, we think we are the ones who know what we need:
"for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:8b)
Immediately following this he teaches his disciples how to pray. The Lord's prayer. And you know what is in there? Everything to pray for that would guard against discontentment.
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name.(God you are in control of everything, and you are Holy)
Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.(Because you are in control, you know the best for me and for my life, and everyone else's lives on this earth. So, knowing this, let your will be done in my life, let your kingdom be my main concern and nothing else, because when I die and go to be with you, I will still be a part of your kingdom)
Give us this day our daily bread(Give me what I and my family need. You know what these things are, and before I ask them, but you have also taught us to pray, asking for them. This gives us a purpose in prayer and permission to have a righteous desire for things in our life.)
And forgive our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Forgive me for the sins I have committed. I admit to committing the sin of discontentment, and because you have forgiven me, give me the ability to forgive others for their wrongs against me and others.)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Lord, give me the strength to resist the temptations of discontentment, lust, greed, anger etc about where I am in life. Take away those things that tempt me, and help me rise above them.)
Amen (So be it, truly)
In an effort to avoid those temptations that lead me to discontentment and comparison, and going after the things of this world and not the Kingdom of God, I have deleted my personal facebook account. I am still using it for my blog page, and the kate wilson photography page, but those are for the use of furthering two things which I feel are a good part of my life, and I hope to use both my blog and photography to honor God. The thing about being discontent and wishing for the next biggest thing is... it's not God honoring. If it is something you want to have so you can look better to others, or just so you can have a cool picture of it on instagram... It's self honoring. And that opens a whole other kettle of fish (where did that expression come from anyway?) which I won't go into right now.
I feel like I have opened a topic without giving many answers, so I want to recommend a couple of books for you! The Bible, of course... I really like the English Standard Version. And the Envy of Eve, written by the wife of one of T.W.'s professors.