Choosing Contentment

Choosing Contentment

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s. Exodus 20:17

Many times, I’ve been asked about my motivation for using opioids. Why did you do it? What hole were you trying to fill? I wasn’t depressed though, and I didn’t have a bad childhood. I’ve not lived through any significant trauma, and I wasn’t self-medicating my anxiety. I simply loved the feeling, like I love pizza and donuts. I wasn’t miserable in my life, but neither was I content. I simply always wanted more. This is a life problem that goes beyond drugs. It’s the same for me with food. I’m obviously not underfed. I just always have an appetite for more. I can get up from the supper table and start looking in the fridge. I feel fine, but I could feel even better.

In recovery now, it’s a continual exercise to choose contentment. For me, that’s the lesson of the tenth commandment. Though it isn’t specifically about drugs or food, the commandment is about learning to be satisfied with where I am and what I have. In the passage, God commanded his people – Don’t look around you, desiring what everyone else has (my paraphrase). God knew that it’s our broken nature to try and find satisfaction in the immediate gratification of stuff and circumstance. He also knew that we’d never be successful in doing so. God made us to know true contentment only in him.

Most of us have been here. We look at the lives of those around us and we compare them to our own. We see the Instagram version of life that others want us to see, and we covet that life. Why can’t I drive that car? Why can’t I have that job? Why can’t my spouse be like that? This envy though, is disastrous to our spiritual lives, because it robs us of contentment and makes us believe that our joy comes from specific people, possessions, and circumstances. Then, we chase those things and even if we get them, we’re no closer to joy or contentment. Rather, we’ve made things worse. Like the alcoholic who drinks his misery away at night, only to find he’s worse off the next morning, we chase our proverbial tails, never coming any closer that which we most desperately want.

Contentment in my relationship with God. In recovery, that’s a choice I must make daily. God is the one constant in my life that cannot be taken from me and I was created by God to find my life, joy, and peace only in him. So, for my own spiritual and emotional health, I must daily choose contentment in the one place I was meant to find it.

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