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  • Katie Smith

Not Depressed, but Discontent.

We can have all that we need physically, know our purpose spiritually, and be healthy mentally, yet still wrestle with discontentment. Why? Shouldn't we feel happy when all our needs are met?

Recently I heard a couple explain how they ended up living on a ranch in the middle of South Dakota ministering to a different culture, with a different language and different ideology, and it all started with a sense of "discontentment" in their own lives back in the southeast.

Nothing was wrong. They had a healthy marriage, two healthy kids, and they loved Jesus. They had a great church, a great neighborhood, and a great community around them, but something seemed to fall short of their expectations. The problem wasn't depression or disillusionment, but a real sense of discontentment.

By definition, discontentment means to have a "restless desire or craving for something one does not have" ( So if you have everything you need, want, and desire, then where does the discontentment come into play?

Personally, I know this feeling. And like this couple, it means God has something shifting in you. Like when your favorite sweater doesn't fit quite right anymore. It hasn't shrunk, and you haven't grown, but it just isn't like it was when you first bought it. Something shifted.

While you may not fully understand it, God is working it out. He will work it out like a splinter works its way out of your skin. It's a bit uncomfortable at first, especially if it's down deep and settled under many years of living traditions. You can't figure out how to fix the persistent pain without pushing it down further. Eventually though, all foreign objects move their way to the surface of the skin as you shed old layers. As it moves closer, you'll finally see how to pull it out.

Discontentment will evaporate when God knows you're ready to pull out the splinter gently and the right way. And afterwards, your relief uncovers the reason for the splinter--it gave you new, stronger skin.

When you see that new layer growing, you'll understand why you were discontent from the beginning. Your purpose shifts, but you have the tougher skin to endure the harder climbs. That couple may not have been ready to move to South Dakota when their splinter was deep in place, but now it all makes sense to them.

Our family has been taking steps to remove a splinter for many years. Some of us felt the pain before others, but once we all saw it coming to the surface, we knew how to take it out. Even though it hasn't been fully pulled out, the discontentment disappeared when we took steps in the right direction. And once that first step was identified, God graciously eradicated the discontentment that nagged my heart.

Since then, we've taken big steps to clean the skin, bandage the wound, and wait patiently on God's timing. More non-allegorical details to come, but just because the discontentment faded doesn't mean the pain has left. Sensitivity remains, relational proximity is tender, and temptation lurks at several corners. Our the new skin hasn't fully covered the old, but pulling out the splinter provides an enormous amount of peace. God's peace and His way provide constant and abundant contentment.

~Carefully and Carelessly Content

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