Out of the blue, one of my co-workers asked me an interesting question as we sat across from one another this week:
“What brings you satisfaction in life?”
That’s a big question that I was not at all prepared for, so I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer. There are, after all, a lot of ways to answer it. After I gave it some thought I realized that the real question, for me, is not what brings me satisfaction, but what takes my satisfaction away.
On the whole, I am very satisfied with my life. God has been oh so good to me and my husband! In addition to all we have in Christ, we have a wonderful marriage, a baby boy on the way, health, security, and so much more. God has been abundantly good to us, and I am beyond satisfied. I am overjoyed!
Yet even with all of those blessings, it’s amazing how quickly my satisfaction can be dampened. And all it takes is the simple act of comparison. All I have to do is compare my body to someone else’s, compare my home to someone else’s, or compare where I am in life to someone else. That’s all it takes, and suddenly the cloud of dissatisfaction settles over my heart.
The truth is that God has already given us all we need to be satisfied. Too often we are the very one’s who take that satisfaction away.
Comparison is a dangerous game with terrible consequences, but recently I have wondered if it is anywhere more dangerous than in marriage. When I compare my marriage, or my husband, to another marriage or another man, I open the door to a host of thoughts that are deadly to my relationship and my family.
The reason comparison is so able to hurt marriage is that it pits the reality of a marriage against the un-reality of some other life. And when reality is competing with fantasy, fantasy always wins. Fantasy will always seem better because it isn’t plagued by the brokenness of everything that makes reality real.
That’s why it’s important to remember that satisfaction begins in the soul. It is an orientation of gratitude toward God. That is not to say that our outward circumstances don’t make satisfaction difficult at times, but it is a reminder that simply changing the things we don’t like about our lives is not the solution. Not a long-lasting one, at least.
Again, comparison can poison just about any good gift that God gives–our bodies, our talents, our families, and our jobs–but I believe it is especially toxic within the context of marriage, so I will end with this final thought:
If you are in a marriage that is extremely dissatisfying to you, please keep your eyes open for comparison, or any other fantasies about the “what ifs” of a better life. Guard your thought life and take those thoughts captive. So many of the messages behind comparison are only lies masquerading as seductive truths. Don’t believe them.
Instead believe in God. Believe in the Redeemer who can renew any broken situation and make it better than it was before before. Believe in God’s control and His good sovereignty as He leads you through seasons that you may not understand. Believe in God’s faithfulness to sustain you when you obey His word.
And on those days when marriage or life is just plain hard and it is tough to believe those things, simply join the father in Mark 9:24 who asked of Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” He will.