Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Mind the Gap

The comments from the last post, especially the CS Lewis quotes from The Screwtape letters, reminded me of a term I heard once in a talk given by Elder Maxwell. When I put the phrase "divine discontent" into a search on LDS.org, I actually came up with a few talks by Elder Maxwell in which he uses these words. I also found several other talks quoting Elder Maxwell relative to this idea.

So what IS divine discontent?

Here is Elder Maxwell's definition:

"It is left to each of us to balance contentment regarding what God has allotted to us in life with some divine discontent resulting from what we are in comparison to what we have the power to become."

We are taught to have hope in Christ and take joy in the journey. We are also taught to have faith and trust in the Lord that, if we do our part, the future will take care of itself. I think this is the contentment part. I think when we feel contentment with our life on the whole, and doing our cheerful best with whatever situation we find ourselves in, we are showing the Lord that we believe in Christ's ability to compensate for our shortcomings. We demonstrate understanding that it is Christ's atonement that saves us, not our OWN abilities.

And yet, by designating a type of discontent that is divine in origin, Elder Maxwell helps us understand the purpose of guilty feelings we get over little things that nag at us--poor habits, unfinished projects, wasting time, etc. Maybe our discontentment becomes "divine" when it causes us to look to what changes might be made inward. Discontentment that causes us to change our physical (outward) environment is perhaps less than divine.

I guess right now I'm trying to determine if my discontent is divine and pointing the way for what I need to work on next, or if my discontent is just thinly veiled ingratitude. I have felt for some time to be at a crossroads. I wish I could just commit without regret to my next course of action. This weekend at Jedi Knight's baptismal service (details later) I was asked to give a talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I told the children that one of the most important tests of their lives would be figuring out how and what the Holy Ghost was communicating to them. Clearly, I need to start listening more closely.

5 comments:

Yankee Girl said...

I've really enjoyed your last two posts. I've got some thinking to do.

Jenny said...

LOVE this post.
divine discontent: my definition was much more shallow than yours before you posted this.

PS. I'm guessing you're a better listener than you're giving yourself credit for

thatgoodpart said...

Very thoughtful post. Time and time again, I'm impressed by how important it is to have the Holy Ghost close.

And what a statement: "I guess right now I'm trying to determine if my discontent is divine and pointing the way for what I need to work on next, or if my discontent is just thinly veiled ingratitude.". I like it because sometimes it is hard to really differenciate the two.

I guess it becomes easier to be content when we draw closer to Christ. I've found that as the Spirit teaches me to overcome my weakness - yes, I feel rather frustrated (discontent even) by my foibles, but I'm also filled with the hope that Christ will help perfect me.

Anyways. I'm not sure if this was what you were getting at...
Great post.
-chococatania

thatgoodpart said...

Very thoughtful post. Time and time again, I'm impressed by how important it is to have the Holy Ghost close.

And what a statement: "I guess right now I'm trying to determine if my discontent is divine and pointing the way for what I need to work on next, or if my discontent is just thinly veiled ingratitude.". I like it because sometimes it is hard to really differenciate the two.

I guess it becomes easier to be content when we draw closer to Christ. I've found that as the Spirit teaches me to overcome my weakness - yes, I feel rather frustrated (discontent even) by my foibles, but I'm also filled with the hope that Christ will help perfect me.

Anyways. I'm not sure if this was what you were getting at...
Great post.
-chococatania

Being Lovely said...

I love the idea of divine discontent. It's so easy to just wallow when we're feeling discontent, but if we pay attention to that feeling it can help us make the changes that we need to be happier. Change is difficult and sometimes we need a lot of help to get going!