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Restlessness and Contentment

Someone called me restless once. I told him I wanted to write and travel. He told me that I should just get married, have a family and settle down. I thought it was a low blow to a 21-year-old girl’s fragile, pieced-together dreams.

Three years later, my mind is still reeling from the comment and those like it. The comment resurfaced earlier this year as I contemplated traveling to Uganda this summer to work at an orphanage. (And that after living in three different states and traveling to seven different countries).

But my resolve is stronger, and I’ve had time to mull over whether or not I really want to be restless, and I have decided two things.

I do.

But I also don’t.

I don’t if it means a lack of inner contentedness with my life that would prompt me to run from the familiar in search of fulfillment. I don’t want to be double-minded, making decisions by trial and error never knowing what I am even searching for.

I have found contentment in surrender, in slowing down, in letting God, in Christ. My life is certainly different from those of my peers who live uneasy lives hoping for a change that will bring them satisfaction.

So many of my friends run around trying out new things—new majors, new locations, new boyfriends, new clothes, new cars … I don’t always think the searching is wrong. We’ve been given so many choices and freedoms; it seems only natural to take advantage of that. But, so often our searching is really just a lack of direction and discontentment.

Instead, maybe it is possible to carry the brand of restlessness that is at peace with what God has given us presently but hungry for guidance to facilitate future change.

I think restlessness in contentment comes from a clear, inner vision that will take me down a path that is untamed and uncommon, continually striving for positive change.

My friend Amanda was with me when I heard that careless comment a few years ago. I’ve known Amanda so long I don’t remember meeting her. As I stood for her at her wedding a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but visualize the drastically different pictures our lives will likely portray 10 years from now.

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She probably won’t be traipsing across the globe, though the prospect absolutely thrills me. She’ll more likely be running a small, in-home daycare at the family farm in North Dakota.

Would I describe her as restless? Yes. Restlessness has less to do with being outwardly different and more to do with an inner stirring that things are still not OK.

If being restless means I’m uncomfortable. Well, I am. I am not ready to quit letting God work in my life. God has made me perfect through Jesus Christ, but he is still perfecting me. I am not willing to let the change in my life become stagnant and ineffective in a corrupt, backwards world.

In that way, I am restless. I am like a rushing river. I am fidgety. I can’t sit still.

So, yes, mister, I guess I am restless. I’m restless in contentment, as is my friend who has chosen a seemingly “ordinary” life. We are restless because we are not willing to compromise personal growth for comfort or “settle down” to lives that are merely ordinary.

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