Whenever we are on holiday, or even just away for a short time from our usual busy lives, I like to take some time to think about my life. I am sorry to say that I am always surprised at how easily my mind will naturally tend towards and even dwell upon the areas of my life that I am not happy in, or with. It appears it is not natural for my mind to think in “appreciate” mode, but rather it prefers “not-being-happy-with-that” mode. I have learnt that:
Underneath all unhappiness bubbles the furnace of dissatisfaction.
My dissatisfaction usually extends to things not going my way, or people not behaving the way I want them to behave. The conviction that: if we just did things my way, everyone will actually be happier! I constantly “if only” about that which I long for and do not have now.
In those moments of quiet, that is when I have heard the bubbles of dissatisfaction bursting from within my heart. It sounds like this: “Me, me, me-me-me, me, me, me-me-me!”
At the heart of all this discontent, dissatisfaction, discord, lies my own desires and wants. Now I would never describe myself like this, I think I am quite a thankful person, always mindful that everything I have and possess comes from the hand of God. God has been good to me, full of grace and ever faithful to me, He is always providing for all my needs as He sees fit.
But my mind and behavior is not always mindful of this. This attitude is like going to a feast table, at which the host has gone to tremendous effort to lay out the best delicacies that he knows will appeal to my taste, and take care of my needs. It is a lavish, rich, overflowing table, indicative of the love he has for me. Like the one described in Psalm 23, “He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies.” But I stand at the table and look for what is not on the table, what has not been put on offer yet and in the process demonstrate disdain for what HAS been provided on the table.
Sometimes we are so busy looking at what we don’t have and what is not going our way, that we fail to see how God has provided for us, blessed us and kept us where we are right now.
Eve did this. She was so busy looking at the tree she could not eat from, that she failed to see the lavish garden she was surrounded by, with choices of fruit more than capable of meeting her needs. She failed to go to the One who provided for her, but instead looked to meet her needs in another way.
Every holiday I am brought up short when I hear those bubbles of dissatisfaction. At every break, I am reminded to count my blessings, to name them one by one. As my friend said recently: “I am not blessed the way I WANT to be blessed, but I AM already, RICHLY blessed.”
Holiday Action Plan: I take the sources of my dissatisfaction and looked to see what blessing is in it, that I had not seen. I looked at what has not gone my way, to find the blessings that have come out of it. I discovered that if I take my dissatisfaction out of the equation, my emotions and my ever present ME-voice, that one plus one makes abundantly blessed and I am embarrassed that I have spent so much time wailing before the Lord.
This is why we are told to: “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thes 5:16-18 (my emphasis)
Being thankful puts new perspective on our dissatisfaction. As we look to our blessings and God’s provision, His grace and His goodness, we cannot help but leave His presence filled with joy.
It is also good to remind myself: I may not be blessed the way I want to be blessed, but I am very blessed.
As we are just coming out of the pandemic isolation in South Africa, I find that it is easy to dwell on the aspects of life that I am not happy with. Having been home for so long, there are big bubbles of dissatisfaction in my personal furnace. Time to take my Holiday Action Plan and put it to work – who needs a holiday to fix your heart!
Father, forgive me all the times that I have focused on the negative, what I don’t have, what is not going my way. In these times, I have failed to see, and even despised, Your abundant provision in the presence of my enemies. Help me to look more carefully at what Your hand has provided, what good Your hand has brought about, what blessing You have placed in my life, that I have perhaps not appreciated. You are a good, good Father and promise to take care of me and my needs. Help me to remember that.
The Journey Not the Destination
Thank you Michelle, what a good piece of writing as always.