By Ashley McIlwain
It’s ironic how we always seem to want something so badly until we get it. Then it’s not that great anymore, and we swear that we will be happy for real this time if we could just get on to that next big thing. When we get that new thing though, we once again find that it’s not the be-all-end-all to our happiness. Yet, we allow this same monotonous cycle of stupidity to repeat like a broken record for most of our life.
What happens is we spend our entire life chasing after what’s next and miss out on what’s now. We strain to see what lies ahead and neglect to focus on what’s right in front of our face. We race anxiously to the next stage of life only to look back with regret at the one that just passed us by.
I’m convinced that this is one of Satan’s most clever plots to steal our lives right out from underneath us. He convinces us somehow that we just need this or that. If only we could get that or be there, then we would be happy. Then we could start enjoying life. It’s all a lie. It’s a ploy to entrap and entangle us to the point of blindness and futility.
It’s like the cartoon characters you see with a fishing pole strapped to their back. Dangling in front of them is a carrot they perpetually chase after without ever getting ahold of it. This is what many of us do. We allow Satan to dangle a carrot in front of our faces causing us to focus on that and that alone while we speed through life disconnected, discontent, and miserable.
How many times have we seen this as it relates to relationships? When we are single, we can’t wait to have a spouse and be happily married. When we’re married, we reflect on how fun and easy the single days were. The carrot dangles.
So what happens? Single people miss out on the joys of singlehood, and married people miss out on the joys of marriage. The apostle Paul, while imprisoned, said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). Contentment means ease of mind. What a profound concept to have ease of mind in our lives.
Instead of chasing after a potential spouse or running from the spouse you found. Instead of pursuing what we could have or searching for what we should have. Stop and take a look around you. You are blessed beyond belief!
You are blessed in more ways than you realize. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in Satan’s hamster wheel that will keep you running in circles until the end of your life when you’re struck with the reality that you never went anywhere. It’s okay to set goals and to have aspirations, but when those things hinder you from savoring, noticing, and enjoying the places and people God has placed in your life here and now, it’s time to remind yourself to “be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5).
When was the last time you just sat down with your spouse and studied their face? How about sparking a conversation with him about something he’s passionate about and watching him come to life? Or taking her somewhere special and holding on tightly to her hand while you allow the moment to envelope you with its love.
Happiness isn’t something you buy. Contentment doesn’t come from frantic searching. Fulfillment comes from the ability to squeeze out every ounce of gratitude and love that is contained within the blessings God’s given you. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17).
Don’t take for granted what lies before you. “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). If you allow yourself to get caught up in the “what-ifs” and “if onlys” of life, you will surely miss out on your life entirely. Right here and now is what matters.
Take moments to truly enjoy your spouse, your family, your life. Close your eyes and breath it all in – the smells, the feel, the scenery. Take mental snapshots of this incredible life you’ve been given. Invite contentment into your life, and give thanks to God for the wonderful gifts He’s blessed you with.
Grab hold of that dangling carrot, and take a big bite out of it!