In his book, Enough Cultivating Simplicity and Generosity, Adam Hamilton suggests we suffer from Restless Heart Syndrome. Much like Restless Leg Syndrome, which is a condition when one has twitches and contractions in the legs, Restless Heart Syndrome works in a similar way, but in the heart or soul. Its primary symptom is discontent. We find ourselves in a circle of discontent - never satisfied with anything, constantly feeling like something is missing and if we can but acquire something more we will find satisfaction, happiness, or purpose - we will find contentment. The pattern goes something like this: buy something or get something, take hardly any time to enjoy it, move on and pursue the next thing.
But wait, isn’t discontent a good thing? When we are not satisfied with our life, we can do something to improve it or when we know better we do better? ABSOLUTELY…. BUT it is what we seek, or what we think and feel will make our lives better or more complete that can be the tricky part.
God actually designed us for a relationship with God - wired our hearts so that we would not be content with the things that can come between, damage, or sever that relationship. God created us so that we would seek the only One - the One who created us, in order to fully satisfy our soul and make us whole. We are meant to cultivate a deeper prayer life, to pursue justice and holiness and increasing fervor, to love others more, and to grow in grace and character and wisdom with each passing day. We are not meant to yearn for that which comes between God and us; that which hurts our neighbors, perpetuates injustice or unholiness, participates in prejudice and bigotry, advocates hate and division, or sustains broken systems of inequality.
In the pursuit of God and to cultivate contentment then, Hamilton suggests the following “Keys to Contentment” and “Steps to Simplify Your Life”:
Repeat, It could be worse - a practice of looking on the bright side, keeping perspective. It is recognizing that no matter what we may not like about a thing or a person or circumstance, we need to try and find something good to focus on.
Ask, How long will this make me happy -is it worth the expense; will the satisfaction last beyond opening the box / packaging?
Develop a grateful heart - the more we can develop gratitude the more we can find contentment in all things; focusing on what we have and not what we don’t puts us in a position of thankfulness which is foundational to contentment.
Where do you find true satisfaction - from Genesis to Revelation the Bible tells us we find our satisfaction in God and God alone. We can try and fill our lives with stuff and money but none of it has eternal consequence or lasting value.
Steps to Simplify Your Life
Reduce consumption and live below your means - reduce waste, look at generic versus name brands, reduce your utilities, research ways to reduce costs.
Ask yourself: Do I really need this and why do I want this?
Use something up before buying something new - use them until they are empty, broken or worn out; spend money wisely.
Plan low-cost entertainment that enriches - think quality not quantity; time together not money spent.
Ask yourself: Are there major / minor changes that would allow me to simplify my life? Cancel unused subscriptions, downsize, live below your means.
Money and possessions are not the problem or issue. It is the desire for more and the love of stuff. It is a lack of contentment. May God give us strength, courage, and conviction to live out of God’s abundance and from a place of generosity and simplicity. AMEN
Pastor Jenothy Irvine