Being Discontent Makes Me Uncomfortable: Life Lessons From a Weekend in Malibu, CA.
As I type this sentence I am driving home from a stunning weekend in Malibu and Santa Monica with a delighted and thankful heart, (and not to mention a super delicious Whole Foods salad- I can’t leave that important detail out right)? Over this past weekend my gracious and extremely generous aunt Lelu truly spoiled me in every way possible—from staying at an extravagant hotel to astonishingly filled days packed with shopping, dining and sightseeing, I felt like an absolute princess the entire weekend. Perhaps I'm the only person, but sometimes I experience rare epiphanies during certain moments simply because I know in a beautifully certain way that I'm experiencing a forever memory—a memory that I suspect will ingrain itself into my memory for countless years to come.
Well, I’m fortunate to tell you that in the midst of the extravagant outings, breathtaking sunsets and heart-to-heart conversations that encompassed every second of my vacation last weekend, I experienced several forever moment epiphanies.
But, those precious forever moment epiphanies were not the only epiphanies experienced last weekend… In retrospect, I can clearly see that the next particular epiphany I experienced has been patiently waiting to emerge all summer. Through a few distinct trials and challenging situations this past summer, I now realize that God was preparing to let this specific epiphany of mine have its final debut in the presence of Malibu’s glamour, Santa Monica’s beauty and the rare calmness that surrounded last weekend.
Rather than trying to be suspenseful and leave you hanging in regards to what my first great epiphany was, (because as much as I detest that, in my wordy blog posts I do that too often) I’m going to tell you right now. I realized that I’m not content with being discontent. And I know that at first that may sound like a confusing double negative, but I promise I will explain.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, we spent much of last weekend shopping Malibu’s lavish boutiques--almost of all of which were lined with aesthetically pleasing décor and perfectly pressed designer clothing worth triple my clothing budget. And to give you even more of an accurate depiction of our surroundings I can't forsake mentioning Malibu’s distinctly recognizable population with their Louis Vuitton everything and nearly unconscious double take judgment of every threatening peer they encountered.
*TOTAL SIDE NOTE/FEEL FREE TO IGNORE THIS RANDOM HUMOR INSERT.* But...my aunt happened to snap a picture of me eating in Malibu, and I obviously I didn't realize she was taking it. Now the only caption I can think of for this picture is: "How people in Malibu eat:" (I know, I know, that is so stereotypical. So, please take it as a joke).
In the beginning of my trip, I didn’t really correlate the lavish surroundings and material possessions of those around me with their rude demeanor and uneasiness. But on the last afternoon of our trip when I sat at a extremely hip and urban restaurant for lunch, the correlation between the two became crystal clear. The seats at this particular restaurant were pretty close together and so as my aunt I talked about life and how delicious our Kale salad was, I observed a couple sitting next to us. And they weren't just any couple, they were a very BRAVO t.v. L.A. couple (I'm sorry for that stereotypical description), with their designer everything, perfectly toned bodies and obvious wealth. But despite all of their external prosperity, throughout the short 30 minutes that I ate my delicious salad, I had a front row seat to see how entitled and evidently discontent this couple was.
My observation of this couple resonated with me for several hours following our lunch. And as I sat on my hotel bed later that night, I thought about how ironic it is that a vast number of individuals in certain populations (such as Malibu or countless other places), can be surrounded by everything that this world glorifies and adamantly vouches will make them happy. And yet somehow, by simply examining many individuals’ behaviors in these places, it is often exceedingly clear that many of them still act jaded and appear internally empty?
Comparison has always been a constant battle of mine. And so sadly I’m all too familiar with the never-ending game of who can do it/have it better that I clearly observed last weekend--and specifically in the quintessential Malibu couple that sat next to me at lunch. specifically that I have often been able to pacify my carnal desire for superiority by unconsciously, (or perhaps consciously) ensuring that I was never surrounded by too many superiors to the point where I would feel noticeably discontent with my external appearance, intellect or wealth.
Before I go any further, I want to say that ironically just last week I posted a very REAL and RAW blog post about the need to be vulnerable. And although that’s exactly what I’m attempted to do right now, I want to make one thing completely clear: THIS IS HARD. It is terrifying admitting a sin that I didn’t even realize was in my heart. Perhaps you know the type of sin I am referring to--the type that creeps in and you don’t even notice until you’re given a unique reality check, (like the one I had this weekend).
Like I mentioned before, as I was surrounded by Malibu’s lavish surroundings this last weekend, I not surprisingly felt inferior and discontent with myself, and unfortunately my first instinct was to run away. And thus through my somewhat unconscious and honestly surprising response, I had another epiphany: at times I purposely avoid situations in which I am surrounded by too much superiority- whether in wealth, intellect or beauty. I can tolerate a tablespoon of superiority around me, but anything more and my stomach seems to quickly turn with discontentment.
But why is this? Why am I completely terrified of being around people or things that make me discontent? A part of the answer to that complicated question is simply that I am a naturally fallen and prone to comparison. However there is a part of the answer to my question that CAN and SHOULD be improved on if I desire to glorify God with my life--(which I do).
The part of my equation that can be carefully and intentionally edited and re-constructed is my desire to find security through feeling in some way superior to others-whether in wealth, status or achievement. For too long I have been gripping my fists onto two ENTIRELY separate securities: the confidence I find through my Savior, and ALSO, my personal sense of superiority.
So now what?
What comes after a person experiences several mercifully designed epiphanies? Here’s the hard truth: I don’t really know. But ironically, despite my current state of uncertainty, my heart is still invaded with total sense of peace because I am resting in truth. I am resting in awareness of a previously hidden and creeping unconscious sin of discontentment which made its grand, (and most likely not final) debut this past weekend. My desire now is that this beautifully ordained epiphany would not go to waste- that I would not revert as I have so many times straight back into what is comfortable or easy.
Instead, my deep desire is to learn how to be completely, authentically and intentionally at PEACE with feeling discontent about feeling inferior in this world. And I’m purposing to fulfill this desire by learning to relinquish my fastened grip on personal superiority and tighten my grip on the irreplaceable confidence that God continues to gracious give me from choosing to find my worth through Him.
P.S. Here are some of my favorite pictures from this past weekend: