Since when is dissatisfaction is a blessing?
I don’t subscribe to the common belief that once our souls get right with God, we will be deeply, completely satisfied in this life we’re living. In fact, I think the opposite is true: the more we know God and find ourselves longing for what he wants for us, the less we feel at home in the places and times we inhabit. – Amy Simpson
Many of us grew up hearing that God has a wonderful plan for our lives. This notion of a plan lends itself to lots of open-ended answers about what this may mean. We probably understand that his plan includes things like forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life, but may also backfill the meaning with add-ons like “spouse”, “vocation”, “next address”, or “happiness and health”. Though none but TV prosperity preachers will come right out and fill in those blanks, American Christianity of many varieties has for a generation oversold what comes bundled with God’s wonderful plan for our lives. We are supposed to be ridiculously happy all the time – in fact, our happiness should be an evangelistic lighthouse of sort, beaming our bliss to the unbelieving world around us so they’ll want what we have. That puts a lot of performance pressure on our faith, and is not a true reflection of the abundant life to which we as followers of Jesus are called.
A cursory skim of the New Testament will correct the notion that abundant life means we’re entitled to all happiness, all the time. Author Amy Simpson tackles our erroneous thinking on this subject head-on in her new release Blessed Are The Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World. Simpson addresses false notions of satisfaction and happiness that are deeply embedded in both church and culture – and within each one of us.
She contends that a proper relationship with the discomfort of dissatisfaction can be spiritually healthy for followers of Jesus. Simpson’s book explores some of the gifts that come with not having it all, including the blessings of need, perspective, focus, growth, and more. She quotes a study that found that happiness without meaning can be harmful to us physically and emotionally, noting, “…if you’re looking for a good life, look for meaning. Happiness by itself won’t do it…even if we know how to make ourselves feel good, we don’t thrive without a sense of purpose.”
Instead of fleeing it or attempting to muffle it, Simpson advocates embracing our discomfort. She’s not calling for us to embrace masochism, but instead to understand that those unfulfilled desires can form us. As well as being an award-winning writer, Simpson is a certified life coach, and the book is written with an eye toward assisting readers to discover and apply God’s truth for themselves. Each chapter ends with a handful of meaningful exercises that would make excellent journaling material, discussion material with a mature friend, or even to bring along on a time of silent retreat.
Many of us at midlife understand what it is to be unfulfilled in some area of our lives – or, perhaps, a number of areas. Blessed Are The Unsatisfied may be a helpful tool to help you discover the gift of himself God is offering you in your unmet desires. Simpson writes:
As Hebrews 13:14 reminds us, this world is not our ultimate home. This doesn’t mean our lives on this planet don’t matter; they matter more because we will live beyond their limits. The way we live now is infinitely important, even as we look forward to “the city that is to come”. So for now, let us live lives marked by meaning, pleasure, contentment – and unsatisfaction.
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