A few years ago, I discovered how much I love a good breakfast sandwich - a bagel with egg, sausage and cheese. I would occasionally go out and get this at breakfast with friends – but not often. One day I decided to make my own breakfast sandwich and discovered it was just as good! Before I knew what I was doing I was eating it about once a week. I liked it so much that I eventually started eating it several days a week. There were two problems with this development. One – it was about twice as many calories as I really needed for breakfast. Two – I found myself trying to improve the ingredients – or increasing the volume - to feel the same level of satisfaction. Food that used to be satisfying for breakfast, a simple yogurt or cereal, lost their interest for me.
This is a trivial example – but enlightening in what is reveals. Even the most beautiful creature or object, the most delicious food or pleasure, the most spectacular view or vista can become normalized over prolonged exposure. We see this happening in the successful, rich or famous – often struggling with an ever-increasing need for power, experiences or affirmation. In my own life I have struggled with the extremes in experiencing life. At times I pull back and do not feel I have the permission to enjoy the pleasures of life. At other times, once I find something is enjoyable, I may overindulge to the point of excess. So, for the past year I have been exploring the very nature of what it means to be satisfied and content in Christ.
Spiritually, we know we are called to pursue the purposes of God in our lives – striving to love God and others in ever more meaningful ways. We pursue excellence or the improvement of our characters as we remain open to the transformation of our souls in Christ. This spiritual formation journey requires an everyday practice and pace and we need real motivation to keep moving forward. However, I have discovered that in this journey there is an almost paradoxical experience as we are also invited to accept the present reality. I have found my soul more fully awake as I find simple joy in being alive and renewed in each moment. I find myself engaging life more whole-heartedly as I let go of the vain striving for bigger, better and more. I have begun to delight in the goldfinch that comes every day to my birdfeeder. I am beginning to experience a profound gratefulness in the experience of each person in my life – my family, friends and clients. Spiritually I have been deeply grounded in the peace and joy that emerge as I immerse myself in the miracle and privilege of belonging to our good, gracious, just and loving Heavenly Father.
I have personally found living satisfied to be a difficult place to discover and remain. It is a destination in our journey that we must each uncover for ourselves. All I can do is invite you to believe that satisfaction, even if it is at times fleeting, is possible as we intentionally rest in God and remain open to his gracious ministry to our souls. I still feel the pull of my dissatisfaction and notice the havoc it can wreak in my life. However, I am delighted that God is worth pursuing and that even in the mundane things in life – perhaps especially in the mundane things – we can find the abundant joy that Jesus promises as we ever more fully abide in His love.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:9-11