Sunday, April 1, 2012

Single in the Suburbs: The Contentment Conundrum

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out." 1 Timothy 6:6

As I mentioned in my last post about church singles conferences, "contentment" is brought up with single people more than The Force is brought up with geeks.

There is nothing wrong with lessons, lectures, and sermons on contentment. It is something we should all seek and pray for.

I’ve noticed, however, that 99% of the times it’s taught, contentment is directed toward singles.

I’ve never heard a pastor tell married people or parents to be content. Maybe it's been preached and I haven’t heard those messages. Maybe I tune out thinking it's not relevant for me. This may just be my personal experience.

I’ve often wondered what happens to your contentment after you get what you were longing for.

Will you be content with your husband? Will you be content if the Lord only grants you two children and you wanted four? What if you guys wind up being transferred to some random city?

Directing contentment solely toward singles and addressing marrieds on other “struggles” insinuates that once you’re married and have kids, you no longer have trouble with contentment.

Only, that’s not exactly true.

I’ve asked my married friends about it, and discontentment is something that doesn’t go away once a ring is on your finger. In fact, I’ve observed that if you’re not content single, you probably won’t be content married.

I'd also heard contentment preached in conjunction with the "hanging in there" mentality. Basically, they said contentment is something God gives you while you’re waiting for what you want.

Contentment is not “hanging in there” waiting for change. It’s being fine exactly where you are, whether or not your situation changes. Contentment is knowing God has you there for a reason, perhaps for a season, perhaps permanently.

Contentment is also not synonymous with complacency. I can be working toward, wanting, and fighting in prayer for something, but still be content in the results knowing that God’s good and perfect will is going to be done. His will is always for my good, even if it looks different than I envisioned.

I did not bring a husband into this world, and cannot bring one out. (Though some women could probably take their husband out of this world.)

Wanting something that you ultimately have little control over getting is difficult. Proverbs tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” God has given us desires—and sometimes it’s difficult to wait.

If you put your hope ultimately in Christ, and the promise that His will is good and for your good, you will not suffer from a sick heart.

That’s easier said than done, and often surrendering our deepest wants and desires to God is a daily occurrence.

Well, that’s the end of my thoughts on that. Have a good week.

And to my single people: may The Contentment be with you.