I feel it in myself. A yearning, reaching, longing for that next big thing in life.
When I was little, it was always the next birthday. A whole year older! Cake! Presents!
Then I began longing to be a teenager, enter high school, start driving, get my first job, begin college, find that special someone – along with a plethora of smaller desires mingled among the bigger milestones.
As I grew older and began experiencing all the “next big things” I had been anticipating, I realized something: I never arrived at the next anticipated milestone and felt as if I had arrived because I immediately began longing for the next big thing.
I was contemplating this a few days ago as I exited my doctor’s appointment. At 39 weeks pregnant, you can guess what my “next big thing” is now, can’t you? Hello labor & delivery, I’m looking at you.
And then what will the next big thing be? Getting back to normal. Normal-ish.
After my third baby was born, I constantly tried to speak contentment to myself by saying, “Once things are back to normal, this precious newborn stage will be over.” And it’s true. You always trade one stage for another.
But contentment isn’t found by reminding yourself what you’ll miss from this stage.
Nor is it found by reminding yourself how much less fortunate others are around you. As in, “There are always people having a worse day than you who would love to be in your shoes.”
Contentment is found when I am truly grateful to God for who and where I am right now. If I’m not grateful today, why do I assume my gratefulness level will increase tomorrow? I assume that because deep down I believe contentment is determined by my circumstances instead of by my heart. I assume that if I only had a nicer lifestyle, better wardrobe, or deeper relationships that I’ll be content and have freedom from reaching for the next big thing.
But that ignores the basis of contentment.
Contentment isn’t found in my stage in life, relationship status, or level of health. Contentment is found in Christ.
If I can praise God for every circumstance He brings my way today, then I will be content. And only then will I experience freedom from reaching for the next big thing. Because only then will I be truly grateful for who and where I am today.
So I take these truths and apply them to my current circumstances.
The next big thing I anticipate is labor and delivery. And then a long period of recovery. How can I stop reaching for the next stage and instead live in the today God has given?
I can give thanks to God for today. For the discomforts and pains of pregnancy. For the miracle of life inside my body. For His perfect plan and timing and the ability to rest even though I don’t know the future. For the grace He gives to sustain today & the promised grace for tomorrow.
If I can give thanks for right now – if I can live with the conviction of David when he said, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” – then I will be content. There is no room for discontentment in a heart full of praise. There’s no need to reach for the next big thing when you’re overflowing with gratefulness about what God is doing right now.
What do you find yourself reaching for in life? A better job, bigger income, more fulfilling relationships?
Give your desires to God and give thanks for where He has you right now. Contentment isn’t found in your circumstances. It’s found in Christ.