It’s hard to find people who might answer “nothing” to the question, “What more do you want in your life?” We live in a society that is obsessed with the idea of always needing something more than what we already have.
Most of the time it’s material things that we feel we need more of in our lives. There are other things we tend to be dissatisfied with, like our careers or relationships. Yet, when we turn to God and rely on his teachings and examples, it is possible to feel the contentment we constantly crave.
The need for more material objects seems to have been around since the beginning of time. Our modern day society is obsessed with “keeping up with the Jones’s.” We feel like we need more money, the next bigger and better car, phone or house. We even hear women joke about retail therapy.
The reality is that for some people, buying something new does serve as temporary therapy. It may fill a hole or satisfy the need to simply have something new. However, just like with all material objects, the new purchase will soon get old and lose its luster. We’re then left with the desire to buy even more! It quickly becomes obvious to many that buying more “stuff” doesn’t result in a fulfilled heart.
Breaking the Cycle of Materialism
How can we stop the cycle of feeling like material things will make us happy? We have to realize that we will never find ultimate happiness in earthly things. If we follow God instead, we can find everything we need. God tells us that we can be happier with less, for the more things we have, the more burdens we’ll have also.
Think of it this way: If I live in a huge home, I’ll have a larger mortgage and a lot to clean. If I have the fanciest car, I’ll have a fancy monthly insurance bill as well. When we constantly add to our collection of “stuff,” we also add to our list of things to maintain, and our stress levels will climb, causing a distraction from what is most important.
All the things in our life here on earth are temporary, and we will eventually leave it all behind. Our relationship with God, however, is eternal and is something that will never fade or lose its value.
The book of Hebrews says to keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he (God) has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God has promised to never change and to never take away his love for us. That is something worth investing in rather than things we can’t keep forever, no matter how hard we try.
Finding Purpose and Fulfillment at Work
Another area in our lives that we tend to be dissatisfied with is our careers. It is, of course important and necessary to work, and it is wonderful to find a career that you can become committed to and truly enjoy. Still, we cannot let a career consume our lives to the point where family and friends get left by the wayside. So many people get wrapped up in a job that has us getting up too early and coming home too late, missing valuable time with family and much-needed quiet time alone.
A job should not completely define who we are. Too often we become absorbed with the need to get that next big promotion or raise, and we exhaust ourselves in the process. Of course, it is wonderful to have goals to work toward, but if we expend all our energy at work we are unable to tend to the needs of our family and friends.
Again, work is necessary in order to support our families and obtain other things we need and want, but God tells us over and over that money is not what is most important in this life. It is our relationships and the way we treat others that means the most.
In the book of Proverbs it says not to toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to resist. In the end, what will matter? What is more important: how much money we’ve made and our professional titles, or the memories we have of our time spent with those we love?
Some of us are in a different position with our careers. We feel stuck at a job that we hate and it seems like we are accomplishing nothing – simply showing up at work, putting hours in and bringing home a paycheck by necessity. It is easy to become discouraged when you are unhappy at work, especially when our society places so much importance on what we do for a living.
A lot of the time we may get up in the morning dreading the day of work ahead. However disappointing a job can be, changing our attitude toward our situation can make all the difference. The book of Colossians says whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. So, if we go to work with the mindset that we are working in appreciation for God and all that he gives us every day, we will surely feel better about the time we spend at our jobs.
Instead of feeling like we are only working to serve our bosses and co-workers, keep in mind that we are serving God and our families as well. It takes much less energy to simply be proud of working hard and doing a job well rather than spend each workday sulking over an unfavorable situation.
Creating Contented Relationships
Relationships are another part of life that can leave many wanting more. Whether it is a marriage, friendship, parent/child relationship or a simple acquaintance, we can have many negative feelings towards that person that keep us from being content.
As soon as we feel like we are unhappy with a relationship, the first thought may be to abandon the relationship altogether. In a lot of situations, it’s certainly easier to give up and move on. However, that’s not always the best answer. We may feel that if we decide to remain in certain relationships even though we feel unhappy, it feels like settling for less than what we want or deserve.
However, deciding to continue a relationship does not meant that we are settling at all. In fact, it may prove the opposite. Many relationships can be mended and even improved when we look at them from a new perspective that includes God, for God’s relationship with us is the ultimate example of how we should treat others.
We can always try a little harder and be a little more positive. If we constantly focus on the negative in a relationship, there’s no way to move forward or fix anything. We can also look more inward than outward. Relationships are a two way street.Therefore it’s important to be observant of what both sides are contributing.
Perhaps the answer is to communicate about what both people can do to improve the current situation. 1 Thessalonians says to encourage one another and build one another up. If both sides of a relationship put in that positive effort, the outcome will inevitably be much better.
Being content in a relationship also means accepting those we love for who they are. We are all unique, and we all have qualities that possess value. That doesn’t mean that we should tolerate a relationship that is destructive to our wellbeing, but it does mean that we should be more open-minded and appreciative of the differences the people we love bring to our lives.
Often, bringing many differences into a relationship will make it that much stronger. After all, differences are what bring people together in the first place. Just as we expect our differences to be valued in our relationships, we should value the differences of others. It even says in Matthew, whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.
Following God’s Example
If we model our relationships after God’s relationship with us, we can feel much more satisfied with the people in our lives. If we do as it says in Jude and keep ourselves in the love of God, we can take that love and apply it to each and every relationship we have, making them more healthy and enjoyable.
We spend such a short time here on earth, and we leave so much behind. Still, it’s important how we spend our time here. It doesn’t do us any good to dwell on the money we didn’t make, that car we never bought, or that promotion we never got. None of those things will help us find contentment in the long run. We won’t take any of that with us when we leave.
What does matter is the way we love others and how we spread God’s love to everyone we meet. Our daily lives revolve around so many relationships, and it is so important that we apply a Godly attitude toward each one. Without God, we will never feel completely fulfilled. When we leave out all our “stuff” and replace it with God in everything we do, every part of life becomes that much simpler and sweeter.
~Written by Marissa Clark