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I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

There is a difference between satisfaction, joy, and contentment. I have rarely been satisfied in my life. Unsatisfied with choices, unsatisfied with circumstances, unsatisfied with people, and mostly unsatisfied with myself.

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I have shied away from thinking about verses that talk about joy and contentment because I have found such moments to be fleeting. I have discovered no secret to make these moments stick or even captivate the majority of my thoughts and imaginations. I've had feelings of joy and contentment many times, but they don't last as the chaos and conflict of living comes crashing down like a flood around me.

But yesterday, with the help of a friend, I had a moment of insight.

I was not designed or created to be satisfied on earth.

The brokenness around me and within me is what creates a yearning for the eternal. I was created for dissatisfaction. So when I see dissatisfaction in myself or my surroundings, this is not some sort of failure; I need not be discouraged.

In fact, on some level, I should be encouraged by my dissatisfaction because it is evidence that there is something more.

To be truly content with my life would be terrible. To convince myself that this is enough would be heartbreaking. It may temporarily relieve the anxiety and feelings of dissatisfaction, but it would leave me holding a broken prize that could never truly satisfy my heart. On some level, it would mean that there is nothing more to hope for; nothing more to living.

Yesterday, I was listening to an old song by U2 entitled "I still haven't found what I'm looking for." Growing up, I loved this song, but I think that I missed its true meaning. I took it as a song of frustration with this world, but it is ultimately a song of longing.

But even if I understood its longing, there is a difference between a longing that brings hope and joy and a longing that leads to disillusionment and disappointment. My dissatisfaction should, on some level, bring me joy because it reminds me of the more I've been promised and the more that is yet to come.

Perhaps my focus has been far too captivated with the circumstance.

Does this circumstance bring me joy or pain; does it satisfy or disappoint. Or even how do I find joy in this painful or difficult circumstance. What a futile exercise, to try to find joy in something that brings pain. There is no joy in pain.

But, if I can reorient my perspective; recalibrate the lens through which I understand my existence, perhaps I can embrace dissatisfaction as further evidence of the reality of my faith; of the truth that I was created for something more; I was designed to want something fuller; I was crafted for something eternal and good.

I was created for dissatisfaction, at least in this world.

Lord, I want to pursue the good. I even want to feel good about my life, your gifts, my present and earthly future. But, in those moments of dissatisfaction, whether they dominate my feelings or land for a moment and then dissipate; help me to see my dissatisfaction as your way of reminding me that the best is yet to come; and not now or next week, but when I reach my true home in heaven or on the new earth. When the illusion of my best life, or the best me, becomes real; when I finally have the power to live out the life I can imagine.

But what of contentment? How should I understand Paul's charge to be content in every circumstance? Again, I believe that this cannot mean satisfaction; at least not for me. Perhaps the mystics, saints, and apostles had a connection with God that elevated them above earthy concerns; but I am mired in the present moment; the muck of daily living.

So what is contentment for a soul that is not living on a plane above it all?

Again, on some level it must be rooted in the eternal. Not in some mystical or illusory way, in the remembrance that my feelings of discontentment, like dissatisfaction, are markers; opportunities to recognize and feel what is true; the good things of this world are fleeting. But, ultimately, so are the bad things. God's promise is for a life where the good no longer fades and the bad no longer crops up to choke out moments of peace and satisfaction. 

For now, I live in a world of weeds and heartbreak; disappointment and loneliness; of moments of joy drowned out by screams of conflict.

But, not forever. I still haven't found what I'm looking for‚ . Praise God!


About the Author: Bill is the IDEAS Education Sector Advocate, and his experience includes roles in educational leadership and teaching in higher education, secondary education, and theological education. Click here for the original blog posting, and sign up today for Bill's webinar on "Making Sense of Islam."