As of late, I have been struggling with discontentment. I don’t know when it began to creep up and rob my soul of joy, but it has. And, there’s not one area I can put my finger on, not one problem I can point to, as if to say, “Yes, this! This is the source of the unhappiness, the leech sucking joy out of my life!”
There is not one big thing. Instead, there are a thousand small things. Memories of friendships that have faded away, that I wish were different. Ministry goals and hopes and aspirations left unachieved. Living hundreds of miles away from family, in a community full of people to call my own…and yet missing those foothills and fall leaves and that family like no other. Loving where the Lord has placed me, but also wanting…more. To be able to use my gifts more. To not feel so stretched, all the time. Working full-time and doing ministry full-time in my “spare time” sometimes feels like drowning. There is no stopping place. There is no space to breathe.
And singleness. Realizing that singleness is a gift and a joy and a provision from the Lord for today – for this season, and for this place, in which I have no room for dating or a husband or children. But it is hard to celebrate with friends my age when they welcome another child into the world, as I wonder if I will ever be granted the same privilege. It is hard to watch girls much younger than me enter into engagement and marriage, and wonder if I will ever have that season in my life. It is not that I don’t want to celebrate with them, or that I don’t rejoice with them, because I do. Just, after so many celebrations and so many rejoicings for others, you begin to wonder if that time will ever come around for you.
And adulthood is not always what it seemed. I fear that I will never have the income to own my own house (in my singleness). Trying to save for emergencies feels like a treadmill – once I get the hang of the current speed, someone increases the speed setting and I fall on my face while I have to deal with something like a cracked windshield or my car insurance. The security that I always hoped for simply isn’t there.
But then again – security never was there.
I am thankful for this season of holy discontentment, these moments of wrestling and searching and doubt and pain and fear, because, in my longings, I am reminded that all I really have is the Lord. Perhaps that would be more difficult if I did have more money, or had family close by, or was married and had children. Perhaps I would look to those things to identify and fulfill me, when it is not the gift that gives meaning to life but rather the Giver of all good gifts.
So I am thankful for the ache and the longings and the dying hopes, because they remind me that the only thing permanent, the only thing that is sure – the only hope we stand in is the hope of Christ, the redeemer of our broken souls. Oh, how he is a redeemer to my broken soul.
On this fall day, far from home, far from where I thought I would be five years ago, and sometimes – feeling far from knowing what is next, and knowing why things happen the way they do – I trust in the sovereignty of our Father – that he brings holy discontentment to remind us of our need for him. That the only balm for the ache in my heart is the lordship of Jesus Christ, ruling and reigning. That the ache for home and security and family and a people point us ahead to what is coming – when we will be at home with the One who made us, in the place he is preparing for us, among his people, forever secure in him, in homes we will not buy and clothes we will not make, for eternity.