Valentines Day Reflection #2: The myth of "content."

As I previously wrote about in yesterday’s post, the tension that most single people have to live in is the tension between contentedness and desperation.  Our culture is brutal on this point; there is no middle ground.  Either you are independent, self-motivated, completely secure and confident, or you come across as insecure, needy, and desperate.  There is little room to express an honest, heartfelt desire to be in a relationship that doesn’t get perceived as neediness, and thus repel people away.

In my circles the common idea of what it means to be healthily single is actively seeking to be ‘content.’  I’ve always struggled with this word, specifically as it relates to relationships.  “Content” has both a positive and a negative connotation.  The positive part means something along the lines of “at peace.”  It means that you get to the point where you are truly “at peace” with not being in a relationship and you have a deep appreciation for life and ‘the way things are.’

But then there’s a dark side to ‘content.’  The dark side means that you’ve given up.  It means that you’re ‘content’ to stay where you are.  There are people who are ‘content’ with obesity.  There are people who are ‘content’ with laziness, with mediocrity, and with bad coffee!  This kind of content is the kind I usually hear, whether people intend it that way or not.  That’s why I never believe people when they say they are ‘content.’

Let’s be honest here.  We are human beings because we are filled with desires.  Desire is what makes life worth living.  It has great potential for good, but also for evil.  But a life without desire is a life not worth living.  In other words, if you’re not living from the heart, you’re not really living.  With that in mind, as long as we have ‘desires,’ we will never actually be ‘content.’

At this point the Christian response would surely say that because we have desires, there exists a satisfaction for our desires, and that they can only find a satisfaction in God.  God gave us our desires as compasses that point back to Him.  He gave us the desire for love, because when we love someone else, in a strange way we are experiencing the heart of God in a unique way.  That’s why we should never strive to be ‘content,’ and to give up on our pursuit of romance.  Its God-given, God-designed, God-ordained, and God-perfected.  When we pursue our desires God’s way, we found the deepest fulfillment of them possible in God Himself.

So if you are a woman and you are embarrassed about your desire for a husband, who lied to you?  Don’t ever be embarrassed about such a sacred desire.  Anyone can look like they are “at peace” when they have killed their heart.  People numb to life look like they’re at peace too.  True contentment isn’t wanting less, its letting your desires blaze within you while at the same time having the patience to enjoy what there is now to enjoy and letting the anticipation propel you forward in hope.

As I’ve said before, one of the metaphors for heaven in the Bible is a “wedding feast.”  It is a beautiful picture in the story of Christianity that there will be a wedding someday, greater than any of the weddings of this world of which the momentary romances of this life are but a foreshadow.

Don’t ever be content to abandon your desire.

Don’t ever be content for the cheap romances this world has to offer.

Don’t ever be content to make ‘being content’ your focus.

Be patient.  Be aware of your desire.  Be honest about it.  Let hope fuel you.  And know that you have a Father in heaven who created you and who knows exactly what you need.  He who clothes the flowers of the field, will he not also clothe you?

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4 thoughts on “Valentines Day Reflection #2: The myth of "content."

  1. Luke – you're right on here…except that in the negative connotation of the word I would be more likely to use the word complacent. I think that you can be content with where you are and still have the ambition to go beyond. Make sense? Good stuff though man.

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