Last night, she and her sister were cleaning up the kitchen, and she was bemoaning the fact that she had more jobs than her sister. This was not her first attempt to correct unfairness as she saw it yesterday. It had been an ongoing theme. I was done hearing about it.
I finally looked at her and said, "You know when you worry about whether everything is fair, when you compare what you're doing to someone else, you just make yourself discontent."
"What does discontent mean?"
"Unhappy with what you have."
"Well, I don't want to be discontent."
I don't know that we've solved the problem, but it definitely gave her something to chew on. And it gave me something to chew on as well.
Being content with what we have -- whether it's things, a job, our marriage or our kids -- is tough. Human nature has us always comparing ourselves to others, always striving to be better and have more than someone else.
When we do that -- when we compare our lot in life with someone else's -- we nearly always find that our life comes up short. We don't have as much money. We don't have as well-behaved children. We don't have as nice of a house. We aren't as smart. And we're left with a feeling of discontentment.
Suddenly, all the gifts that God has given us aren't enough. They seem inadequate. We seem inadequate. All because we decided to compare ourselves to someone else.
While human nature has us always striving for more, God wants us to be content with what He's given us. In Philippians 4:12, Paul says, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Being content is a learned reaction. And it's not something we can do ourselves. The very next verse in Philippians gives us the key -- "I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
To be content, we have to rely on God. We have to believe that He's given us enough of everything. And we have to stop comparing ourselves to others.
The next time you or your kids are caught in the discontentment trap, try this. Read Philippians 4:12-13. Ask God to help you be content, then list what you do have and thank God for it. It's nearly impossible to be discontent and grateful at the same time.
Our kids won't learn to be content with what they have if they constantly see us wanting more or comparing our lives to others. Learn as a family how to be content with what you have. Ask God for help because He wants you to be content with what He's provided.