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May 09, 2009

Wild Contentment

Contentment has become an enemy of the religious mindset. It has been made to look like a lazy, negligent, short sighted and unambitious trait that stands in the way of real spiritual growth. If someone claims to be content, they're immediately looked upon as arrogant, unteachable and even spiritually blind. We're warned against such feelings because theycontentment supposedly set us up for imminent disaster. The religious mindset I'm talking about basically says that the moment we think we're okay, we're letting our guard down and leaving ourselves open to attack. To even suggest that you are content is the same as saying you have arrived and you no longer need anything else. Such a disposition is frowned upon in institutional Christianity.

It is sad that the basic element necessary for human personal sanity has been stripped from millions of good-hearted people, all in the name of religion. The moment we buy into this line of thinking, we are literally giving up all chances of future happiness and joy. I believe that people must come to a point where they reverse their decision to despise contentment. They have to make a conscious choice to accept contentment as a good thing in their life.

I can recall feelings of guilt and fear the moment I felt the slightest bit of contentment in my life. It was as though I had been programmed to believe that if I gave myself over to that feeling, I could expect something terrible to happen in a matter of days. Contentment was the calm before the storm. Fear was safer than contentment because it causes us to put our guard up, be alert and strive for something better. Contentment has been associated with complacency and apathy. Many Christian circles have even rewarded a LACK of contentment with titles such as "humility" and "teachable," making it less acceptable for folks to relax and enjoy life.

It has even become a mark of spiritual maturity for a person to openly declare their lack of contentment with themselves. We're told that God is always changing us from the moment we come to him and the process of spiritual growth will last for the rest of our lives. No matter where we are in life, we can always do better. There is never a point where we will be finished growing and changing as a Christian. At any point where a person decides they are content with who they are, they are resigning from God's plan for change and growth, according to today's mindset. They are immediately perceived as arrogant and close-minded.

I remember sitting on the stage as a young Pastor many years ago, listening to the Senior Pastor give the altar call. As the people came forward with tears in their eyes, we were singing "Just as I am" and I had a sick feeling in my spirit. I felt like we were luring innocent children into our car and we were going to kidnap them and take them far away forever. I remember thinking to myself; "These poor people have no idea that "Just as I am" applies only to the first visit. After this romantic moment, they'll never be allowed to be themselves again.

Ever since Christianity's purpose has been redefined from "joy abundant" to "spiritual growth;" contentment is hard to come by. In fact, I believe it's damn near impossible to obtain. When we see our relationship with God as a life-long rehabilitation process where God is constantly making us better and helping us to sin less and less, contentment at any given moment becomes unattainable. When the purpose of our religion is altered andrehab polluted, everything from the top down becomes contaminated as well. Sadly, due to the belief in the necessity for constant "spiritual growth," contentment is the first to go. It must go because it stands in the way of achieving a higher spiritual level.

True contentment will never be captured until a person comes to an understanding of why Christ came in the first place. It wasn't to help us quit sinning and to slowly transform us into mini-christs. He came that we would have life and life abundant. Contentment is the first fruit of that purpose to spring up. Alter the purpose, and the result is perpetual unrest, inner frustration and dissatisfaction. Sound familiar?

I think most Christians don't believe it's possible to be spiritually content. Such satisfaction seems out of reach. It's almost idealistic to even think it exists. I have news for you; it does exist! Not only is it possible to be content, but it's absolutely necessary if you want to lifeexperience freedom. Life doesn't even begin until you're okay with YOU. This is perhaps the biggest obstacle for people in the Christian world today. They aren't okay with themselves. They haven't embraced themselves for who they are. They're caught in a destructive cycle of always trying to fix their flaws.

One of the first things I encountered when I entered the wild was contentment. It happened one Sunday morning when I was lying in bed with my wife and kids. I just noticed it. I noticed that I didn't need anything else in life. I was satisfied. I no longer had that inner nervousness that drove me to desperately try to fill a void. I did have voids, but I no longer cared about them. The purpose of my Christianity went from "working on my life" to "relaxing in His presence." Once I allowed that to happen, contentment came. It was what I call Wild Contentment. I knew then that if I were going to embrace this wonderful state of mind, I would have to do so with an edge of rebellion in my spirit. I knew intuitively that I would have to brace myself and get ready for the inevitable religious backlash I was sure to receive from my Christian friends. I knew they would "warn" me against getting to comfortable and accuse me of not striving to go further in Christ. Ironically, that's percisely what I was doing. Embracing contentment is essential to life in Christ. I've learned that you have to forcefully grab hold of it because everything in your religious upbringing will attempt to pry you lose from it.

I realized that I'm a likable person just the way I am. It felt arrogant at first, but once all the pre-programmed religious feelings ran their course through my veins, I was free to enjoy my contentment, with no apologies. This wasn't something I was willing to give up because I knew in my spirit that life wasn't worth living without it. 

When a creature that was meant to live in the Wild, is caged; contentment is striped away until that creature breaks free. I believe that contentment in the Christian life happens only in the wild. We were meant to be free. Once that freedom comes into our lives, we become partakers in wild contentment.

 

 

 


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Comments

  1. Gravatar
    Richard

    Absolutely right dude!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Gravatar
    Brettact2

    Cool! I had a realization along this line this week: we were created to be Sabbath-beings. God set up the creation in such a way that we didn't need to sweat to live. And, the new creation is the same - I don't have to labor for salvation. I'm suppose to live rested, it's all good! There's nothing to fix. It would be an insult to God to pretend that there is. Just enjoy God and let others see that. If they are hungry for life, we'll develop a kindred spirit relationship. And together, have fellowship with our Father. All I need to do is be present to my Father, who then writes new applications of His law on my heart, as I'm ready to relate to Him and others in that way. And, just staying open to reality's call to authenticity brings me to that position of submission time and again. Content

  3. Gravatar
    Shannon Brown

    "It wasn't to help us quit sinning and to slowly transform us into mini-christs. He came that we would have life and life abundant."

    This truth came alive to me when I listened to the podcast "The Essence of Christianity" last November. Since realizing that Jesus came to give me life and life abundant, I have experienced a contentment and love for life that always eluded me while I was in the IC. It is an amazing way to live life! This is where I have found true REST...it is not forced or fake.

  4. Gravatar
    Sue

    "We're told that God is always changing us from the moment we come to him and the process of spiritual growth will last for the rest of our lives."

    You know, on one level I do believe this but it has no bearing on my contentment and peace within the Papa relationship. That is unchangeable. There are so many things that I would like to change about myself but none of them are dependent on my relationship with God. Which is why I guess I can feel contented even while in the midst of also desiring and being willing to work towards change. All that "transformation by the renewing of your mind" stuff, I guess, and the last few years have for me just been SUCH a massive growth period (and some of the worst years of my life, all mixed up together). But "continuous improvement"? Nah :)

  5. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Yea I agree Sue, that we actually are in a process of growth and change. It's just not the purpose of Christianity. Its not why Christ died and rose again.

  6. Gravatar
    Wade H

    Thanks for the truth, Darin.

    I was sitting here reading your post and had a "spiritual moment." While reading, the song "I don't wanna be" was playing on my computer. The lyrics are the following: I don't want to be anything other than what I've been trying to be lately
    All I have to do is think of me and I have peace of mind
    I'm tired of looking 'round rooms wondering what I gotta do
    Or who I'm supposed to be
    I don't want to be anything other than me.

    As a recovering IC manager who decided to venture into the Wild, I can finaly say it feels good not to perform for God.

    "I don't want to be anything other than me."

    You rock.

  7. Gravatar
    Stephanie

    I struggled with contentment before, during and still sometimes after leaving I.C. I can relate to feeling that foreboding "when is the hammer going to drop" oppression" that came from "being still." I believe we all grow but so does the grass outside and I don't hear it "groaning" and "pushing" up out of the ground. It takes as much time as it takes. God is not a hard taskmaster..easy, light, they do not toil or spin, are you not more valuable, peace be still, are all words from the "Prince of Peace" himself. I have learned it is O.K. to sit at the feet of Jesus while the "Martha's" make things happen. The kingdom of God doesn't run on "time" and for this I am grateful.

  8. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Good word girlfriend:)

  9. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Thanks Wade. I appreciate the song. I love that song.

  10. Gravatar
    Jen

    Thank you for clarifying how "spiritual growth" is perpetrated as the antithesis of contentment. Defining it succinctly helps me to cast off yet another chain of tradition. I remember being called to get outside my "comfort zone" as a means of spiritual growth. ("Step away from your Comforter!") Thanks so much for reminding me that my Father is not poised for a smack-down when I enjoy life by the very goodness He is. Thanks for this place of affirmation. I am strengthened here to believe God, not men. Alone I tend to question my experience of Him as real, it being so unlike that which IC presents. What kind of God would speak to one such as me? What kind of love is this? Jesus. Like David, I'll take my chances with Him, for He is merciful. Men are not.

  11. Gravatar
    nancy in Corpus Christi

    Scripture speaks of this, “but godliness [god likeness] with contentment is great gain”. God is content with Christ’s work of transforming the human heart/spirit. There is no Christian spirituality, only a God spirituality “like Christ.” Or, as you said, the [same] spirit that empowers Christ empowers the human spirit. We can explore all types of spirituality and miss God, just as I explored "being" a Christian and missed knowing Christ as the Source of "being". There is a distinctive and inclusive God formed human spirituality [god likeness] as in "Christ be formed in you". It’s a natural spiritual process, not me transforming me exactly but where Christ-likeness with contentment is expressed in my life and it’s truly great gain. Yippee!

  12. Gravatar
    Sherri

    Wow! This is so amazing. I was just talking to my kids a couple of weeks ago about this very thing. When I was in the IC, a lack of contentment was considered spiritual. The more zealous you were of seeking more of God and claiming more of Him, the more "spiritual" you were. I could never reconcile this mentality with all the verses about resting and being content. I would have this huge struggle going on inside, asking God,"How can I be content, and still striving to attain more of You? UGH!" Now I am resting in Him, and Him alone. Sweet Contentment!

  13. Gravatar
    myso

    Good, good, goood! Internationl conformation :)
    I think there's a similar issue on "living in sin" or whatever it's called in English. I mean the case when you're given a teaching but there's a BUT in the end. "You will receive the blessing, power, grace, money, whatever..., BUT make sure there's no sin in your life." And the mentality I'm talking about is that you always find something that you keep thinking about for so long, that in the end you're convinced it's a continuous sin and you conclude you're "living in sin", so you definitely can't get the blessing, thing, or whatever the sermon was talking about. And as time goes on you always find yourself in the BUT statement and feel completely condemned and you're just sure you're never gonna get anything... Does this make sense?

  14. Gravatar
    Bob Cloutier

    God, Im not trying to rule the roost,
    I don't want to be king of the mountain.
    I haven't meddled where I have no business
    or fantasized grandiose plans.

    I've kept my feet on the ground,
    I've cultivated a quiet heart.
    Like a baby content in it's mothers arms,
    my soul is a baby content.

    Wait, Isreal, for God. Wait with hope.
    Hope now; hope always.

    Psalm 131. The Message.

    Bob C

  15. Gravatar
    jenny

    NEVER heard contentment described this way. (Always heard it described as being happy with your lot ie whatever suffering you're going through.) Wow.

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