Contentment, Expectations, Mothering

Satisfy: Where Does Contentment Begin?

A young man sitting on a stump facing the ocean

@JeanneTakenaka

“I’m never content, Mom.”

These words slipped from my son’s mouth some months back. Probably after I’d gone to great lengths to get him something he wanted, or to do something he desired. 

And then I’d probably made the mistake of asking how he liked it.

I don’t ask that question anymore.

First, I found it revelatory that this boy of mine knew he would never be satisfied. Second, a piece of my heart cracked because all that I had done to bless him—to make him happy—hadn’t been enough.

A mother and father walking on a path with a little girl

I felt guilty that somehow, I’d failed my son. Then, I felt hurt because he didn’t appreciate all I’d done for him. Not that I laid these emotions bare before him. But, in my heart, I questioned why I hadn’t been enough for my son. Why my efforts fell short in his eyes.

I wondered if perhaps, nothing satisfies him because he is still working through the adoption aspects of his personality. Surely parents whose kids are biological don’t have these discontentment issues . . . Right?

As I’ve meditated on this great conundrum, I’ve realized we all struggle with discontentment. We all hold onto silent expectations, hoping somehow that yawning void inside us will finally be filled.

The silhouette of a boy staring out at a large lake

Now that my guys are teenagers, they’re looking to friends to fill them. Yet, they still want time with Hubs and me . . . thank goodness! But, they feel that hole. Some days, it gnaws at them, coloring how they see their friends, interactions, and events that happened in that day.

My heart grieves for them as they yearn for something to fill them, to make them content. And when I’m in that place? I become frustrated with myself. I should know better. 

But still . . . 

Sooner or later, every person I expect to bring me contentment, will disappoint me. 

Let’s face it. We all have our issues. We all walk through seasons of being overwhelmed by life. And we can’t keep up with our own “stuff,” much less help someone else deal with their “stuff.”

The silhouette of a man staring at the ocean at sunset

We sometimes set our hearts on things we think will fill us. When we buy the perfect new car, or move into the dream house we’ve envisioned for years, surely then we’ll be content. We’ll be surrounded by all that we’ve wanted. 

But still . . . 

Things can only fill us for a short time. They tarnish, chip, break, fade. They lose their appeal when they become commonplace in our thoughts. 

And circumstances . . . when we’re striving to get into the perfect job, or when we lose a certain number of pounds, then we’ll be content, right? 

The silhouette or a man standing on rocks and watching the waves churn below him.

We are so HUMAN. It’s easier to search for contentment in these things. None of these require relationship, though some do require work and discipline. 

There’s only One who can truly fill us. To find true contentment, we need to give up our agendas, our expectations. Contentment comes through relationship with God.

Contentment comes through humility. When we yield to a heavenly Father who loves us, 

and we lay aside our ideas of what will bring satisfaction . . . and seek Him first and only? 

This is the first step toward contentment.

When our eyes are fixed on God—when we spend time with Him in his word—God transforms our thoughts and understandings. He gives us a different perspective about the world, people, stuff, and circumstances.

Meme set on a backdrop of ocean waves coming into shore at sunset. The words say: "Contentment begins when we lay ourselves down before a loving Father and trust Him to fill us."

Contentment begins when we lay ourselves down before a loving Father and trust Him to fill us.

As for my boys? They still struggle with being filled. But, I’ve come to the understanding that I’m not called to be God in their lives. It’s not my role to obtain their satisfaction for them. I can do things that speak love to them, but how each one responds is between them and God. 

A person standing on the shore and watching the sun go down behind an island

So, I pray for them. And as the opportunities reveal themselves, I point them back to the One who knows them best and knows best how to help them find contentment.

What about you? When have you struggled with contentment? How do you find contentment?

Click to Tweet: We all hold onto silent expectations, hoping somehow that yawning void inside us will finally be filled.

I’m linking up with #TellHisStory and #RaRaLinkup

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26 thoughts on “Satisfy: Where Does Contentment Begin?”

  1. There’s no-one can make me content,
    no-one to complete me;
    even with the best intent,
    a part will still be empty.
    I used to think that was a flaw,
    but now I’m not so sure
    that it’s not God’s subtle law,
    our passion to ensure.
    All the good things that we chase
    stand in this world for Him,
    and in pursuit we don’t waste
    our heart on pseudonym.
    He is the dream that we define
    to only see in Heaven’s time.

    Like

    1. Andrew, you’ve done it again. Your words here carry such a depth of wisdom. I read these words earlier today, and I’m still pondering them. I’m thankful our Father fills those empty places in us. And when we meet Him in heaven, I suspect it’s going to be an indescribable thing to feel complete in His presence. So thankful for you, friend. And I’m praying for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am learning that I will only be fully content when I get to heaven. And that’s a good thing. As amazing as this world and the people here are, they were never meant to fill me up, and I was designed to have a longing for the heavenly places.

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    1. Rebecca, it’s hard to admit that we tend to be discontent here on earth. I like how you bring up the truth that we’ll only truly be completely filled when we are in heaven. I had a wise friend tell me (before I got married) that my husband is my want, and God is my need. Such true words. Have a great day!

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  3. Great question, and it’s got me to wondering just where contentment does begin, and I think the first step might be in the letting go of our images of perfection–maybe even in stopping the quest for contentment. God says he’ll help us… (Phil. 4:13)

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    1. Michele, I imagine you’re right. We have to let go of the images for ourselves, others, our lives. Until we do this, contentment will be elusive. May we be like Paul and learn to be content in whatever state we are in. thanks for sharing your wisdom, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I find myself more contented as I spend time with God and His Word. Without Him, I find myself longing for something more. May your boys – and each of us – keep our eyes fixed on the One who is the only one who can fill our hearts with contentment.

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    1. Joanne, yes! Time with God realigns our perspectives toward the things that He values, doesn’t it? And yes, my prayer is that our sons will learn to keep their eyes fixed on the only One who can fill them. I always appreciate your perspective!

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  5. Your post made me cry. My heart is right there with yours – for our kids to see how much they are known and loved by their Maker and in that find true contentment. Jeanne, your post has hit me powerfully this morning. It’s making me look anew at the need all around me to be a vessel to show God’s love … and in that find, and point to, true contentment. “Lord, help me!”

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    1. Heidi, God has a way of speaking to our hearts, doesn’t He? I’m glad He gave you nuggets from these words. May He continue to speak to both of our hearts and renew our hearts and perspectives. Hugs, friend.

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  6. I must admit there have been times when I have not been content with my situation. Yet, as I have matured in faith, I have found His joy in the simple things in life. I try, though not always successful, to find the good in certain situations. Our recent unexpected move has caused my husband and me to be reminded of enjoying simple things. Watching wild turkeys out back, hearing the laughter of neighborhood children playing and so much more. God is so good. We are filled with His peace and joy and contentment. 🙂

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    1. Melissa, there have been many times I haven’t been content with my life as it was. I like your perspective of finding joy in the little things. I think that’s partially why I love photography. It keeps me looking around for glimpses of God’s beauty around me. I’m glad God’s giving you eyes to see and ears to hear those joy-giving things in your new home and neighborhood. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this.

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  7. Oh your words resonate with me, friend! I too have said, “Ouch” on the inside when a child isn’t satisfied with something. I agree with what Joanne says above. I am most content when meditating often on God’s Word!

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    1. Betsy, I have had to work hard to not internalize those things my kids say. For me, the tendency to do this stems from my own rejection wounds from my girlhood. So, it’s been a multi-faceted healing and renewing God’s had to do in my heart. 🙂 And yes, meditating on God’s word is the best thing we can do to renew our perspectives and hearts, isn’t it?

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  8. Oh, you’ve hit the nail on the head here so well, Jeanne –> ‘Sooner or later, every person I expect to bring me contentment, will disappoint me.’

    This is a huge life lesson that I’ve taken in over and over. And as I grow to see how true it is, I enjoy my relationships more because I’m not demanding that the other person meet the deepest needs of my heart – for intimacy, to be heard, to be noticed, to be appreciated, to be loved.

    Instead of coming empty and broken, I come filled. And that’s made all the difference.

    Only Jesus …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, I like how you share the fruit that comes from releasing others from expectations. The depth in relationships and the ability to enjoy them more is a beautiful thing. I so love your words here. Thank you for sharing your wisdom today!

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  9. I think it’s true that all of us struggle with discontentment at times! Too often we’re looking to other people or circumstances to satisfy us and then we’re disappointed because they never will. It’s a challenge to keep looking to God for all we need.

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  10. Oh, those teenage years! You will get through them, and trust that they will work it out. Brains are still developing and they still need your guidance to work through those times (even if it seems like they don’t care or want it, hey?). As soon as those ‘should’s’ pop up in my life, I know discontentment is creeping in like a spider on a fly. I’m in a season of self-care (brought on by the overwhelm feelings lately that include the ‘shoulds’) which seems so selfish, yet allowing the sifting to happen even if very uncomfortable!

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    1. Lynn, Lord willing, I’ll get through the teen years. With lots more gray hairs, I’m certain. 😉 I like what you shared about your personal red flag alerting you to discontentment—the “Should’s” popping up. I have to check my thoughts too. Self-care is not selfish. Good for you for addressing your needs. May the Lord continue to draw you near and refresh you in this season. I so appreciate you, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh Jeanne … I think we could have a very long conversation about everything you’ve written here. So much truth … so many hard realizations. Why is so tough to be HUMAN? 🙂 Nothing truly satisfies but Jesus … I think that is a lesson I will be working on my whole life. Hugs, friend.

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    1. Awww, Lois. I think we could share many long conversations about many things. 🙂 It is tough being human. Can you imagine how freeing it will be when we get to heaven and no longer have to struggle with some of these things?? This has been one of my life-lessons too. Thank you, friend!

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  12. Such wonderful insight from your son’s lips and heart. The way you unpacked it drives home the point of how contentment, satisfaction, and true filling in our souls only comes through the heavenly Father.

    People and things offer us false hopes of lasting satisfaction and contentment. But with our loving Creator, there’s 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

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    1. You’re so right, Karen. The only One who can help us be content is our Lord. I was a bit amazed at all the thoughts my son’s comment generated in me. They challenged me, made me think, and led me to pray for my boys in this area of their lives (and in my own).

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  13. I have had to learn and relearn this lesson, Jeanne. It’s a life-long process, isn’t it? “Contentment begins when we lay ourselves down before a loving Father and trust Him to fill us.” I’m so glad your boys can honestly share their discontentment with you. That’s a huge plus. But at the same time I know that crushing feeling that we have failed. It’s an ongoing lesson for me to remember I can’t “fix” everyone who is unhappy. I love your wise insight that “I can do things that speak love to them, but how each one responds is between them and God.” Thank you for the encouragement! Love and blessings to you!

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    1. Trudy, I suspect most of us have had to learn and re-learn this lesson. As hard as it sometimes is, I consider myself very blessed that. my boys share parts of their hearts with me. And you’re right. We can’t fix those around us who are unhappy. Only Jesus can do that. I’m so glad He’s up for the task. thank you, sweet friend, for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

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