3 Reasons Why You Might Be Discontent

and how to finally find peace

You’re just not feeling it.  It seems like no matter what you do, you can only capture it for a moment… and then it’s gone. Sometimes you think you can go on vacation and capture it… but it never seems to last.  Sometimes you try and buy it… but it still eludes you.  What am I talking about?

Peace.

If you’re like me, you thought that once you figured out how to manage your schedule better or achieve greater work/life balance or get that promotion or spend more time with your kids that you would finally be at peace.

But it didn’t happen.

You may even consider yourself to be happy most of the time, but there’s that gnawing suspicion that there’s something missing deep in your soul… a discontent that plays like background music in your everyday life.

Why is it there?  Why does it keep playing despite the success and love and accomplishment you’ve experienced?

Here are 3 reasons why you might be struggling to find peace:

#1 If you depend on external behaviors you won’t find inner peace.

That’s because external behaviors only have temporary effects.  Vacations are great to feel peaceful, but they don’t address the real issue–what’s happening on the inside.

In an oxford.com article, “The Psychology of Shopping,” Naomi Canton writes that during an economic downturn (when people are feeling lost or discontent) there is: “an increase in the sale of fast food, alcohol and confectionary, too. They all thrive. In spring 2009 Americans were using these products to pick up their mood. They couldn’t afford a fancy restaurant, but they could afford McDonald’s or a Cadbury’s chocolate.”  

But the mood never lasts, does it?  External behaviors, at best, produce temporary peace. They are like self-medications that don’t address the root of the problem.

What if I told you there is a better way?  What if I told you that you could experience a deep, abiding, inner peace no matter what is going on externally your life?

It would be a game-changer, right?

#2 Your discontent could be a spiritual symptom

Lost people are not content.  Now, before you get offended, let me explain.  I’m not using “lost” as a pejorative term, I’m just using it to describe anyone who cannot answer the two big questions in life: Who am I? Why am I here?  (Which can apply to anyone, at any time, including followers of Jesus).

It’s like the Bourne Identity (2002).  Jason Bourne wakes up on a boat in the middle of the ocean, not sure who he is or why he’s there. He is confused, angry, and discontent… because he’s lost.  (Okay, he’s full of bullet-holes too, but just work with me here).

But, there is a remedy

In Jesus’ day, the concept of peace was based on the Jewish notion of Shalom.  While we might think of Shalom as a synonym for peace, it actually means much more.  It’s about wholeness… wellness… contentment and satisfaction with every area of life.  They understood it as something quasi-physical, something that God rests upon you.

Jesus is often called, The Prince of Peace.  The Prince of Shalom.  And here’s what he says about the peace he offers: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

I do not give to you as the world gives.  In other words, my peace, is not found in external behaviors, but inner rest–the remedy to a troubled heart.

When you put your faith in Jesus, God brings peace to your innermost being.  And the reason is simple: you experience a restored relationship with God instead of a broken relationship with God.  This, in my experience, is the difference between peace and discontent.  It’s something that God does to me on the inside.

But…

#3 Maybe you still haven’t decided to take the antidote

Knowing about faith in Jesus, or hearing about faith in Jesus for many church Sundays is not the same as having faith.  It is when we trust Jesus with our everyday lives that we experience peace.  And this peace will replace that background music of discontent.  So, no matter what is going on in your life–even if it’s hard or confusing or painful–your soul will still feel peace.

What if you could have peace no matter what was going on externally? How would that change your life?

Let’s decide to quit living like Jason Bourne.  It may be fun to watch, but it’s an exhausting way to live.

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Pointing out the Arugula

The fear and risk of speaking up

Have you ever been out to lunch with a friend and they get a little piece of arugula or something in their teeth… and you didn’t tell them?  Or maybe you’re shopping with your sister and she asks if the pants she’s trying on are too tight… and even though they clearly are, you lie?

Or maybe it’s something much more serious.

Maybe someone you love is about to make a terrible mistake… and you don’t say a word.  You want to, of course.  You always want to.  But when the moment comes, fear paralyzes you and the moment passes in silence.

Why do we have such a hard time speaking up?

Well, if you’re anything like me, it’s fear.  Fear of damaging a relationship by speaking. Oddly enough, when I don’t speak up, it usually causes more damage in the end–the friend with the arugula or the pants or the mistake invariably asks me: Why didn’t you say something?

In many surveys that ask Americans what they fear the most, the #1 is not death…  It’s public speaking.  Yup, you read that right.  In a Forbes.com article from Aug. 2015, contributor Nick Morgan adds, “Jerry Seinfeld even made a joke out of it, noting that if fear of public speaking was number one, and death was lower down the list, it meant that people would rather die than give the eulogy at the funeral.”

We are afraid to speak up – especially when it comes to our faith.

If we won’t point out arugula, we definitely we won’t point out Jesus.

After all, we know full well that we don’t talk about religion or politics with people we love because we don’t want to argue. We want to love each other and be nice… but if ‘nice’ is just a veneer, how is that love?

I wonder… how many of the people I truly love will get to the end of their lives and discover the joy and freedom and blessing of a relationship with Jesus Christ–and that they have missed out for all those years?  I’m afraid they’ll ask me: Why didn’t you say something?

The Gospel is good news!

The term gospel, refers to what Jesus accomplished on the cross.  But it’s a word that was taken from Roman culture in the time of Jesus.  It referred to the good news of a military or political or personal victory.  It was a declaration and a proclamation: victory has been secured.  The gospel is the good news that Jesus has secured victory over sin and death.

It’s news… it requires words.

God wants you to speak with actual words – that He will give you.

In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit fills the apostles (e.g. all on Pentecost, Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, Stephen before the Sanhedrin) for the purpose of public speaking.  This is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise: “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12:11).

Sometimes it feels like a teleprompter.  Words that are clearly coming from somewhere else that I’m speaking at just the right moment.  Other times it feels like an intuition–a feeling that I need to say something even at the risk of offending someone. But I have to get over my own insecurity and fear and trust in order to speak.

Jesus says, don’t worry, God will teach you the words to say. God wants you to share the good news of Jesus.  He wants you to risk it.  If you don’t risk it, He can’t give you the words.

He are 3 things to remember when speaking up:

#1 Don’t be a jerk

Ummm… yeah.  Just don’t be.  There are too many Christians who use their words (or worse, God’s Word) as a blunt instrument.  It’s not about debate, it’s about truly loving someone.  It’s not about getting your Christian agenda across, it’s about loving someone enough to share the greatest news in history because it will transform their life.

#2 Love is the door to truth

You have to love someone for them to hear the truth.  Ephesians 4:15 reminds us that we are called to speak the truth in love.  Again, it’s about your agenda–it’s about God’s desire to share His love with them.

#3 Be willing to risk discomfort, inconvenience, and fear

Love points out the arugula.  Most of the time, if done right, people will thank you for it.

Let’s speak up and let the Holy Spirit speak into the lives of the people we love.

Question: What has helped you speak the good news into people’s lives effectively? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Do you feel like you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time?

3 questions to start recalibrating your life

You’ve been trying to ignore it.  Maybe it’s just your imagination… or maybe you ate some bad fish.  You have this unsettled feeling about things, and no matter how much you try to cover it up, it’s playing like background music in your life.  Something is off.

Maybe it’s just a matter of eating better or getting more sleep (it’s amazing how much the body effects the spirit).  Sometimes that’s the trick… but sometimes it isn’t.  Sometimes you can sense that the root of this unsettledness runs deeper.  It’s like your life’s taken a little detour and you’ve become out of sync.  Like a Choose Your Own Adventure book (remember those?) you’ve made a series of decisions that have led to nowhere.

The good news is that God can restore you.  It may just be a matter of getting you back in position.

Have you ever watched pre-schoolers or kindergarteners play soccer?  What did you notice about positions?  Correct, they don’t exist.  As one who has coached this age group let me tell you, it makes you crazy.  Why?  Because if little Tommy will just stand (literally stand there) in the right position, he will get the ball.  And if he gets the ball, he can move it toward the goal and maybe even experience the thrill of scoring a goal…

But he doesn’t. He’s just too busy swarming around the ball with all the other kids on the field.  He’s out of position, which messes up everything else.

If you’re feeling out of sync, here are 3 questions that can help:

Question #1: Am I in the game?

This question isn’t just for the person who is still on the fence with Jesus.  If you are on the fence, I pray that someday you might really give Jesus a chance especially if you’re feeling out of sync (you have nothing to lose and everything to gain).  But this is more often a question for people who’ve been following Jesus for years.

More often than not, people take themselves out of the game: I’m too busy right now… things are too crazy at work… I’m too overcommitted… I love being on the team, but I just need to sit on the bench awhile and eat orange slices.  Newsflash: the longer you sit out, the more out of sync you’ll feel.

Question #2: Am I in position?

Jesus positioned the disciples to be at the right place at the right time.

In Acts 1, before Jesus ascends into heaven he tells the disciples to stay in Jerusalem for a few days until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  That’s it.  He didn’t ask them to do anything until the time was right.  The result?  As Acts 2:1 says, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.”

Because they listened to Jesus’ instructions to stay in Jerusalem, the disciples were in perfect position to receive the miracle of the Holy Spirit.  That’s true for us.  We must listen to Jesus (prayer, bible study, worship, etc.) if we hope to be in position.

Question #3: Am I ready when the ball comes?

Jesus also trained the disciples to move the ball forward.

When they received the Holy Spirit and started speaking in different languages, they didn’t stay huddled up in that Upper Room.  They went out into the streets.  They knew this miracle was not for them–they had to share it.  How did they know?  Well, they’d experienced this before.

According to Luke’s Gospel, when the disciples told Jesus that 5,000 people needed food, Jesus said: “You give them something to eat.”  Jesus performed the miracle, but the disciples turned around and shared it.

Maybe you need more practice.  Maybe you need to join a small group at church or serve at a local soup kitchen.  You need to practice passing the miracle.  Then, when you are in position, you’ll know what to do when the ball comes.

Perhaps this is all you need to finally feel like your life is in the right place at the right time.

Question: What are some things you do to recalibrate when you’re feeling out of sync? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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