The Apostle Paul encourages us to be content in every situation. He claimed it was his secret. But being content with your circumstances and being content with who you are as a follower of Christ are two different matters.
My sophomore year in high school, my baseball team adopted a little mantra: “We’re not satisfied yet.” The idea was spawned out of losing the best-of-three state tournament finals to a team that was vastly inferior when it came to skill. We squandered away a chance at the title and everyone knew it.
So after every game that season, our coach would rally us together and say, “This was a great game, guys. But we’re still not satisfied, are we?” We would all shake our heads, get fired up, and throw our hands together in the huddle before chanting our team name and running post-game wind sprints.
It wasn’t until our final game that season did we change our tune. We absolutely crushed our opponents in the state finals, so much so that I even played one inning of the final game after picking splinters out of my rear end for most of the season.
After the game, our coach started out by saying this: “One word, fellows: Satisfaction.” This resulted in a roar and some impromptu Rolling Stones renditions of the song famously bore that word. But the truth of the matter is, we were satisfied after having accomplished a goal we set out to achieve.
There’s plenty of room in our lives for holy discontent, especially when it pertains to our character development. This is an area that seems to plague me in my pursuit of Christ. I know how to behave and can force myself to act accordingly. But when it comes to how I want my heart to be, how I want it to be in complete accord with my actions, I feel like it’s still lagging behind.
Theresa of Avila put it this way when discussing the growth of our character:
It is necessary that your foundation consist of more than prayer and contemplation. If you do not strive for the virtues and practice them, you will always be small in the faith. And, please God, it will be only a matter of not growing, for you already know that whoever does not increase decreases. I hold that love, where present, cannot possibly be content with remaining always the same.
I can’t be content with staying the same. In the verse reference by Theresa of Avila, John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). And that’s where my discontent comes in. I can’t be content with just half of Jesus, a part-time relationship with Him. If I’m equal or greater to Him, that’s a problem. I need Him to completely change me from the inside out–and that’s a process that takes time, a foreign concept in our fast-food, gotta-have-it-now culture. And it takes Him being bigger than me.
As I grow in my relationship with God, my character should grow. I can become more content with who He is fashioning me to be, but I can’t be wholly content. Not until He’s finished with me.