I first heard this from the mouth of my French piano teacher. He was a very animated individual, always going off on spewing rages regarding young people murdering the rendition of classic pieces, or one of his other dramatic rants. (I always thought it should have referred to Bartók or Bach inventions – my personal bête noires).
Bête Noire — A person or thing that one particularly dislikes. The bane of one’s existence.
There’s just something about saying it in French – so sophisticated.
Discontentment is my bête noire.
It doesn’t seem to matter how much the good outweighs the bad in life. It’s too easy to live under the single grey cloud in the sky. Literally. It’s monsoon season here. It’s just that much easier to find a little grey cloud to camp out under for a while.
Have you read the book, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”? The message of the book is that it doesn’t really matter where you live because a bad day is just a bad day; relocating is not going to solve any of your problems. After the outburst from 8-year-old Alexander about how terrible his day was, his mother responded with, “Some days are like that, even in Australia…”
Don’t we all struggle with discontentment in the present? We think, if I only could have that job, own that house, or if only I could live in _______. If only my spouse would change. If only I had a spouse. If. Only. We get stuck in a rut thinking if only circumstances would change – then my outlook on life would improve. Then I would be able to keep better control of my emotions. Then I would be a happier person…
It’s been one of those weeks.
Back home, in this week alone, there has been a birth, a person very close to me had a miscarriage, and by this weekend, I will have missed 2 very good friends’ weddings. And some time in the next few days/weeks, a new niece will be brought into the world as well! As much as I try to keep a good attitude about the life God has me lead, it is really hard sometimes. I know there are blessings to be had for sacrifices made in choosing to serve the Lord overseas, but it doesn’t make the sacrifices any smaller.
It’s not that I’m discontent living in Southeast Asia. Quite the contrary, in fact. I couldn’t be happier with who I spend my time with and what I spend my time doing. Isn’t it a part of human nature to always crave what you don’t (or can’t) have? When I’m here, my heart wants to be there. When I’m there, I miss being here… I can’t stand the inner bickering!
I don’t consider my discontentment or sadness worthy to compare with the hardships (real) missionaries and martyrs endure daily. For generations, people have suffered far worse; missing funerals and weddings is at the bottom of the ‘totem pole’ of hardships. But that really is the best place to begin adjusting my attitude, rather than later in life when I’ve become set in my ways.
I feel inclined to add that somewhere along the way I’ve learned it is okay to be sad when life deals hard blows. Just because I’ve chosen this life, does not mean I love everything that comes with the job description. I don’t know if this is an exclusive Hannah-ism, or if it’s common among others, but I’m so quick to feel guilty about feeling sad. However, wallowing in your sorrow is another thing. That being said…
I can not choose what comes my way, regrettably… but I am in charge of my response to it! I would love nothing better than for my life to juxtapose a flower blooming on a rocky precipice, against all odds. Alone I would be incapable of such a feat — the conditions would be my destruction; but to bloom radiantly, despite the “weather”, would be to the glory of God.