Episode 057: Struggling Through Divine Discontent with Jodi Chaffee

In a talk given at a Woman’s Conference in October, Michelle Craig discussed the concept of “divine discontent.” Neal Maxwell often used this term in his speeches to describe times when God unsettles our comfort to inspire us to make a change in our lives. Craig describes divine discontent like this: “Divine discontent comes when we compare ‘what we are [to] what we have the power to become.’ Each of us, if we are honest, feels a gap between where and who we are, and where and who we want to become. We yearn for greater personal capacity. We have these feelings because we are daughters and sons of God, born with the Light of Christ yet living in a fallen world. These feelings are God given and create an urgency to act.” Maxwell says that these feelings bring us to a higher level of consecration, and “will cure ambivalence and casualness in any of us!” 

More from Michelle Craig: “We should welcome feelings of divine discontent that call us to a higher way, while recognizing and avoiding Satan’s counterfeit—paralyzing discouragement. This is a precious space into which Satan is all too eager to jump. We can choose to walk the higher path that leads us to seek for God and His peace and grace, or we can listen to Satan, who bombards us with messages that we will never be enough: rich enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, anything enough. Our discontent can become divine—or destructive.”

“One way to tell divine discontent from Satan’s counterfeit is that divine discontent will lead us to faithful action” says Craig. “Divine discontent is not an invitation to stay in our comfort zone, nor will it lead us to despair. I have learned that when I wallow in thoughts of everything I am not, I do not progress and I find it much more difficult to feel and follow the Spirit.”

Some ways to act on feelings of divine discontent:

  1. “never suppress a generous thought”
  2. Live after the manner of happiness
    • Learn the doctrine of your faith, your family canon 
    • Choose to be happy and take responsibility for your happiness. Fill your life with uplifting, happy things, and keep your thoughts clean.
    • Be industrious, live with definiteness of purpose, find a passion, serve, do something that is your authentic expression
  1. Learn about grace

Michelle Craig refers to a quote from Mere Christianity, when “C. S. Lewis explained God’s transforming power this way: ‘Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably. … [You see,] He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of. … You thought you were [being] made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.’”

I think I have become a little bitter sometimes when I dwell on my own divine discontent. When that happens I am likely dwelling on that paralyzing discouragement rather than feeling motivated by my capacity for growth. I heard once that you should pay attention to when you feel jealous because it could be your subconscious telling you about changes I may want to make in my own life. I think this can be somewhat true if we can keep the jealousy in check, but I think it is our nature to allow our jealousy to become more discouraging than otherwise. It is important to remember that we are all on our own path, and I’m not saying that we are on the same path in different levels. No. We are on our OWN PATHS. It doesn’t matter if you think someone has it better or worse than you do, we all have our own struggles. The important thing is that we are all trying to work out what our individual paths are leading us to, and that we are trying to improve ourselves on that path when we feel that prompting to do something.

Recommended Books:

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About the author, Jodi

I live in Richmond, Virginia with my husband, Michael, and our four young kids. We homeschool, and work remotely, so I guess we may take this on the road some day! I have a bachelor's degree from George Mason University in Health Promotion Studies, but I attended five different universities before finally finishing while I was expecting my third baby! I'm a returned missionary from the Hawaii Honolulu Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm sort of a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none, but I do enjoy reading personal development and parenting books, finding new ways to enjoy exercising, and learning more about being an entrepreneur.

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