Summer Discontent

By Charlotte Gleason

Discontent and I spend a lot of time together in the summer. He typically moves in after our family travels to somewhere other than here. I started the summer on the coast of Maine, where I could walk to Acadia’s rocky coast and smell the wild roses. Discontent quickly pointed to things my life lacked, like the fully equipped kitchen in the vacation home. You know – the kind where the refrigerator blends into the cupboards and the gas range could simmer soup for a small army.

In July, I traveled to my husband’s hometown in northern New York. I left the sweat-all-day heat of Philly and drove to a place where sweatshirts are not just worn to prevent hypothermia in grocery stores. I swam in the lake, ate ice cream next to corn fields, and mentally moved myself into small-town America.

And while I always love to return to my space and the familiar, discontent never failed to remind me that somewhere else could be better. Like any lifetime Christian, I could hear Paul’s admonition to “be content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12). But this admonition rang like a parent reminding her child to make his bed: I blocked out the voice and shut the door.

Shortly after our return from New York, I heard my daughter reading under her breath from Matthew 6: “Do not worry about tomorrow” (vs. 34). Her words stopped me in the midst of worrying to God and presenting my wish list for the future, the fallout of housing discontent in my heart. I turned to Matthew 6 and read through Jesus’ reminder that he cares for the sparrows and dresses the flowers. But I noticed that Jesus also redirects the focus of his audience toward the close of the chapter. He offers a replacement thought: his kingdom and his righteousness.

I recently finished reading Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo to my two older children (please know it took forever and required much interpretation). At the end, the Count writes these words in a farewell letter to his dear friends: “Until that day when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, – ‘Wait and hope’”(Dumas 478). I think these words rightly express what we as Christians must do when we wake up, walk through each day, and lay down at night. And discontent has no home in those who anticipate heaven while trusting in God’s daily and present provision.