The Problem with Discontent

blog content discontent here and now voices Oct 11, 2023

Blog by Gem Fadling

You may remember that we now take the month of July each year as a mini sabbatical. I engage in no work, no work-related email, and no social media. It is a much-needed way of disengaging that allows body and soul to rest at a deeper level.


One benefit of such extended time is that I can get in touch with ideas, longings, dynamics, and desires that typically stay buried underneath the flurry of activity in my day-to-day life. I’d like to share with you one such “get in touch” moment from our most recent sabbatical.


Early in our trip, Alan and I, along with our youngest son, had the chance to raft on the Rogue River in Oregon. It was such a perfect and beautiful day. Bright sun, clear skies, blue water, and just enough rapids to feel like an exhilarating ride. Now, mind you, the scale of the rapids was only at levels 1 and 2, but we flowed along nicely on that July day thanks to the expert rowing of my husband and son.


And right there amid the laughter and enjoyment, I had a brief insight as I gazed out over the moving water and at the trees passing by. Temperamentally, I struggle with an inner dynamic that hums along under the surface most of the time. I call it “the search for the secret sauce.” It has to do with the fact that I often feel as though my experiences aren’t shiny enough. Like there is another level of satisfaction or enjoyment that is just out of reach.


This is usually a subconscious sensation, and I don’t notice it all the time. Again, it’s like a low hum. But in that moment on the raft, I noticed it surfacing. That sensation arose of “I need more sauce on this” and “This needs to be just a little more exciting.”


I hope you’re following me here. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting to really enjoy what you’re doing. But I’m talking about my insides, in that place where discontent and contentedness meet up. And I’m on an intentional journey of becoming more content.


I sensed God inviting me to move from that reaching and craving place to a more relaxed posture--one of accepting the present moment. Not to strive for something more to occur but simply to receive the moment as it is.


If you’ve read my book Hold That Thought, this is the same dynamic that arose when I was staring out over the city of Florence, Italy. And God met me then as well. The Spirit is so gracious to continue to meet me in my deepest places of need.


And so, there on the raft in the sun, I allowed myself to fall into the present moment just as it was. Every time I do that, an immediate peace arises. I’m not battling anything or reaching for something or trying to squeeze out the last drop. I move into receiving mode with immense gratitude and a connection to the moment.


This is so much more relaxing and enjoyable than pushing for some unknown and unattainable “extra.” It is taking me a long time to make my way in this regard, but I’m glad to keep trying.


A couple of weeks later, Alan shared with me from his reading in Acts 10, the story of Peter visiting Cornelius’s home, which comes right after Peter saw the vision of a sheet filled with all sorts of animals. While Peter was teaching, the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and all those in his household.


Verses 34-35 had struck Alan, and they also stood out to me as he shared them:

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”


Today I won’t go into the full explanation about the meaning of this passage. I simply want to highlight one phrase: “I now realize how true it is that…” 


Isn’t that a beautiful and gracious line?

“I now realize how true it is that…” 


Alan and I were talking at breakfast that day, and together we decided that this is a great journal prompt to engage on a regular basis. Also, we both desire to realize what is actually true. In Peter’s case, it was about God not showing favoritism but accepting all those who come to him.


In my case, it could be any number of things. I decided to try out this phrase on my unhelpful need for that extra sauce on things.


Instead of thinking “I don’t have enough secret sauce on this” or “I should be doing something else or something more,” I tried beginning with the phrase, “I now realize how true it is that…”


So here we go…


  • I now realize how true it is that, as I age and mature, God meets with me in more quiet ways, and I actually enjoy it.
  • I now realize how true it is that God meets with me throughout the day in so many subtle ways, and this is good.
  • I now realize how true it is that there is a oneness that is growing--that in him I live and move and have my being. It’s all one thing. I like this too.
  • I now realize how true it is that I don’t require a secret sauce on everything. I can receive people and circumstances as they are. I don’t need to coerce or force or push. This is a relief.


This phrase brings out contentment in me. “I now realize how true it is that…” carries with it the presupposition of what is real. And contentment is found in the now and in the real. The Kingdom of God is Reality with a capital R. Grace and contentment are found now.


The formal definition of discontent is “a restless longing for better circumstances.” I do not want this to describe my heart. Do you want it to describe yours? A restless longing sounds like a wandering wayfarer with no direction. That is not how I want to live my life.


I want to live and love the life I have been given. I want to receive each day that is offered to me with gratitude. I want to be in the flow of the Kingdom. In God I live and move and have my being. This is real. This is now. And I can find contentment here.



  • Pray, journal or ponder: Do you ever find yourself searching for a little “extra sauce” on your life?
  • What would it look like to drop into the present and be open to contentment?


Give yourself some space to try on “I now realize how true it is that…” – by journaling a way you could complete that phrase.


Photo by Gordon Jaeger on Unsplash