The last few years, the Lord has used lessons about submission,
gratitude, and service to deepen and grow my sense of contentment. Those are the first three “building blocks” in this series.
The final block that completes the foundation for contentment is connection. What do I mean by that? Well, first of all: I mean real, honest, authentic relationships with other believers.I don’t mean the connections you make on social media (for the most part). Oh, I hope that my blog is a source of encouragement and reading it leaves you feeling bolstered. I hope that you have a sense of community in the feeds you follow on Twitter or Instagram. But in general, most of us get comparison —not connection— from our online worlds.
Comparison is a Thief
Comparison only serves to steal your joy and breed discontentment. Comparison leaves you feeling less-than. Comparison prompts you to narrow angry eyes at your stuff, your circumstances, your people, and your place.
Don’t pack your angry eyes, friends. Now if it’s true that comparison breeds discontentment, but connection fosters contentment… the question is, why?
Connection Halts Entitlement Thinking
I’d say it’s because living in a real community forces us to let go of pride and entitlement.I’d wager that in many of our lives, discontentment comes from a sense of entitlement. Your human nature tells you:
I deserve better than this.
I deserve better in my relationships – my husband, my kids, my friends… they just don’t appreciate me or treat me right.
I deserve better in my place – this house, this job, this town, this whole state – they aren’t up to my standards!
I deserve better from my stuff – I should really have a better car, fancier sunglasses, nicer shoes, a bigger TV.
I deserve better from my circumstances – I wasn’t made to live like this!
On the other hand, when you spend time and effort connecting with a group of believers, learning together and living out your callings together, you will grow in grace.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than ourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Small Groups beat Packed Arenas
There’s a lot to be said about small groups in the Christian life. What I’ve seen in my own experience is that two big things come from connection: accountability and vulnerability.
When you’re accountable to a group of friends, fellow travelers on the journey, you first of all learn to recognize your own shortcomings. You own up to your sins, and your people encourage you in repentance and starting fresh with your eyes back on Christ. Guess what that does for your sense of entitlement? It smashes it WAY down to proper size. Accountability reminds us that we aren’t deserving of any of the blessings in our life – that all we have & do is such a gift. That reorients our hearts away from discontentment.
And secondly, the shared vulnerability of group living helps you to take a turn being the one served by others. (Remember in that last building block, when I talked about how service blesses us and gives us a contentment mindset? Well, here’s where the coin flips sides. Being served by others is sometimes also necessary to help us return to contentment.) There will be times when your connection to others puts them in a position to bless you – with words of encouragement or reproof, with service, with time or resources that meet your needs. In my life, I have always –without exception—found this experience to be both humbling and deeply loving.
Known and Loved
You see, I think human beings have a deep heart cry to be fully known. We want to be seen, and heard, and valued and cherished.The truth is, only God fully knows us right now. The glorious truth is that He knows every bit of us – even the ugly, imperfect, shameful parts – and He loves us anyway.
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT
Someday, the Bible promises us, we’ll have complete knowledge. Until then, I believe that connection with other believers is the closest we’ll get on this earth. Connection spurs us toward humility and love, it helps us avoid the comparison trap, and it puts our hearts in the right place.
And that’s the capstone of this little tower of contentment we’ve been building.
Which part of contentment is the biggest blessing or hardest struggle for you? Comment or tweet at me with #ContagiousContentment.
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