The human brain is wired to look for what is lacking. We search and search for what could go wrong, is wrong, is absent, is off balance, is not the fullest it could be. We do this so that we can fill in the gaps, fix the wrongs, avoid hurts, or know how to improve. It feels logical and productive. In some ways, it feels like we are objectively, critically, and maturely analyzing our lives.
This pattern can be a good thing! If we don’t know what is going poorly in our lives, is hurting us or our relationships, or is off balance, then we are most likely going to end up broken, isolated, hurt, and exhausted. Knowing what is lacking is important to growth, development, and health.
What is equally important is knowing what we don’t lack. When we only focus on the things that need to be improved, are dissatisfying, lacking in some way, not perfect, we start to believe that our lives—not just parts of our lives or bits of our lives— lack everything. We start believing this simply because it is the only thing we are looking at.
When we shift our focus on the things we do have, the things that are going well, that are wonderful and beautiful, that are life giving and balanced, that make us laugh, that make us feel loved and love in return, and that make life feel brighter and lighter, when we focus on these things, we start to find joy in our daily lives because we are looking at things that are joyful. We start to feel satisfaction, contentedness, peace, and love. We can handle the things that lack better than before because we don’t just lack, we also have abundance.
What is strange is that these things feel like they are at odds with each other. How can we be content but want more? How can we be striving to fill the lack but be happy with the things around us? For some reason, they seem like they don’t fit together. Yet, living in this tension is what brings us closer to where we want to be. The tension between contentment and desire, between knowing lack and knowing abundance, between enjoying and improving, is in a sense, the nature of walking with God.
We are constantly learning to enjoy His presence while also striving for more, with a love for where we are currently and a longing for where we will be. We are in a constant state of being and becoming: being loved as we are right now without any strings attached and becoming image bearers of Christ. Within the lack and the abundance, within the tension of what we need more of and what we have, we find a determination to move forward, to accomplish something, to have a grand adventure combined with a sense of fullness, peace, contentedness.