It is not possible to realize and experience true contentment if you are focused on never having enough. We need to discover our “never enoughs” so we can move them out of the way and contentment can flow into our lives.
The Bible is filled with examples of “never enough” behaviors. We’ll just look at one example right now, from Isaiah:
“They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain (56:11).”
This passage is directed to the elders of Israel who turned aside from how they were supposed to act — as protectors, leaders, and guides to their flock — and went off on their own way, seeking their own gain. This is a textbook example of how excessities get turned around into “never enoughs.”
Often the behavior of an excessity starts out as harmless, even beneficial. Hobbies, for example, can be recreational and completely appropriate. Pursuing your career can be productive and positive. Eating and drinking in moderation are beneficial. Relationships can be giving and loving.
At some point, however, each of these activities can turn out a different way.
A hobby becomes an all-consuming obsession. Working becomes workaholism. Eating becomes gluttony. Drinking becomes drunkenness. Relationships become twisted. When you start down this road without a proper understanding of the dangers, they can end up turning on you, spiraling back down into themselves. At some point the behavior becomes an excessity. When it does, you no longer have control over it.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO DOROTHY
I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz. I especially liked it as a kid because I lived in Kansas. The movie would play almost every holiday, usually when kids were home from school on break and parents needed a few extra hours to finish up with holiday preparations. I watched it so many times I could run the dialogue.
Even as a kid, there was one part near the end that always drew my attention, though I didn’t really understand it at the time.
Dorothy has just returned from Oz, and she’s telling her uncle’s hired hands what she’s learned during her journey. Dorothy says she’s learned that “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t here I never really lost it to begin with.”
The gospel according to Dorothy tells me that contentment isn’t something external, found in circumstances or even adventures. Contentment is an internal condition, something you shouldn’t need to look for because its rightful home is in your heart. Dorothy learned to recognize the value of what she had instead of seeking after the promise of what she didn’t.
The ability to capture true contentment comes from recognizing what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t.
The writer of Hebrews put it this way:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake’ ” (13:5).
Removing “the love of money” in this passage, each one of us could substitute our own particular desire that fuels our excessity.
“Keep[ing] [our] lives free” would be difficult to do if it weren’t for the “because” statement that follows. Why can you put down your desire, your longing, your need, your excessity? Because by saying no to it, you are saying yes to God, knowing that through His love He has promised never to leave you, never to forsake you.
Source: Chapter 10, “God Provides Contentment” in Gotta Have It! by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, Inc