I was sent a post from The Catholic Gentleman which stated, among other things, that:
“The world thrives on discontent, and it promises that happiness comes with buying just one more thing.”
I was thinking about this and my first reaction was..
Yeah that’s bad. Discontent is bad. Don’t be discontented and you won’t be sucked into the materialistic culture. Which is in some sense, true. But there’s more to it than that.
I began to wonder. Why are people discontented? Why am I discontent? Why do we seek after a happiness that is always just a bit beyond our reach? Why are we made that way?
Then it hit me.. We are MADE to be discontented.. with this life.
We are actually designed to have this massive “God-shaped hole” in our hearts that cannot be filled with anything other than.. you guessed it.. God.
So I was reminded of the famous line from St Augustine that,
“You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are RESTLESS until they rest in Thee.”
So the other definition of restless could easily be discontent. And the saga continues. If I am made to be restless, why am I made that way?
So I turned, of course, to that great help in these matters, the teaching authority of the Church, and this was what I found from an address by Pope Benedict XVI:
“Our heart is restless for God and remains so, even if every effort is made today, by means of most effective anaesthetizing methods, to deliver people from this unrest. But not only are we restless for God: God’s heart is restless for us. God is waiting for us. He is looking for us. He knows no rest either, until he finds us.”
And oh boy, does Pope Francis have a lot to say about this one, like:
“The restlessness of the quest for the truth, of the quest for God, becomes the restlessness of always coming to know Him better, and of going out of oneself in order to make Him known to others and this is the restlessness of love… I would say to those who feel indifferent to God, towards the faith, to those who are far from God, or are abandoned, and even to us, with our distances and our abandonment towards God, little, perhaps, but there are so many in daily life: look into the depths of your heart,”
“A restless heart seeking material riches, gets tired, becomes lazy, becomes a loveless heart that is never satisfied.”
So how does that help me when I get an email from yet another online shopping site, with lots of great deals of the day.. how do I discern or rather detatch myself from the in-my-face promise of instant gratification to the actual real pursuit of happiness which comes only from God??
1. De clutter my digital junkmail: I started today by unsubscribing from a shopping site I have been far too interested in. I was getting really enticed by the sheer volume of awesome things that I could have with such (seeming) ease. I have to think, “you think THAT is great? God is so much greater and more awesome and hurry, hurry, he currently has an amazing deal on eternal life that will be beyond anything that outdoor setting will bring you in terms of real peace.”
2. Pare back social networking: I have also started going onto Facebook much less often. It seems to stir up a strange form of discontent in me. A feeling that my life is so much less than the beautiful lives of all those others. Comparisons are pointless and I am realising that Facebook is like the modern version of the immaculate front yard of the ’50’s. The way to try and “keep up with the Joneses” with their flashy car and cultivated garden. It is not real life. It can be a great tool for some but not that many I suspect.
3. Be grateful for what I have: I am grateful that I don’t have a large income… just what my husband earns shared between our family.. If I did have a large income, boy, would that be hard to manage. How would I ever find God if I had so many more opportunities to spend money, to seek contentment in things, to struggle to fill that hole in my heart not just with stuff but with cravings for all manner of food, drink, entertainment, digital media and distraction. I can actually be thankful for things I don’t have as well as the obvious ones I do have.
So it is not a very extensive list, but for me today it is the one I need to seek to thrive in this life and more importantly, in the real life to come.