The fire inside me was ignited as I watched her clambering over the filthy dirt of the rubbish dump in Phnom Penh (Cambodia); her hands were scavenging for any precious metal which she could sell to feed herself and her family.
It flared as I watched the tears running down a widow’s face as she re-lived the terror of experiencing her 13 year old daughter kidnapped in Gjakova (Kosova) and nearly sold into human slavery.
The fire sparked as I heard her, a member of Girls’ Brigade, utter the words ‘I’m not good enough’; she’s one of many other young women who believe the deceptive voice of our culture which both whispers and shouts ‘You are not enough’
My soul breaks. This isn’t fair! This isn’t right! This isn’t what God intended for girls!
This fire consumes, glows, sparks, crackles and flares inside me every single day.
This firestorm of frustration is my ‘holy discontent’. Bill Hybels describes this as ‘The stirring situation that causes so much damage to your soul that it brings you to a place where you simply must do something… It births a burning-bush experience in your soul where you sense God himself inviting you into an intentional and personalised partnership with him to renovate reality’.
My holy discontent is my restless longing for a better world for girls and women; a world where every girl is championed, celebrated and able to fulfil her God-given potential.
I’ve been wrestling with my holy discontent for over a decade. Here are some things that I’ve learned…
1. Holy discontent fuels a purposeful life
‘You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know’, said William Wilberforce to the House of Commons in 1791, in reference to the horrors of the slave trade.
God has broken my heart for girls. I can’t look away. I can’t ignore it. But more importantly, He has extended a personal invitation to be part of His transformation and restoration mission.
I’m blessed that my job with Girls’ Brigade England & Wales enables me to speak words of worth and value into the lives of young women across the UK. I’m privileged that my voluntary role as Vice-President of GB International enables me to shape strategic decisions that will transform the lives of girls in over 50 countries. I’m humbled that as a GB leader in Northern Ireland, I get to journey alongside a group of young women each week, presenting the truth that they are enough.
There is no doubt that wrestling with my holy discontent has helped me discover the reason why God has put me on this earth.
2. Holy discontent tests the limits of suffering
Many of us throw the word passionate around so flippantly in our conversations. We’re passionate about everything – including chocolate, sunsets, Eastenders and good food. But the word passion comes from the Latin word passio (to suffer).
And here’s a difficult truth to swallow: our true passion should cause us to suffer.
My passion – to see the worth and value of girls upheld, redeemed and restored – has led me to grapple with suffering in many different ways: my own feelings of anguish and helplessness when confronted with cruel injustices, the struggle with the isolation of leadership, the sacrifice of time with my family, the weariness of constant travelling as well as the harsh realities of confronting the darkness inside me and others.
Our holy discontent should lead us to the frontline of the spiritual battle. After all, we need to get close to the darkness when we’re trying to punch holes in it.
3. Holy discontent cultivates hope
Last Wednesday, I gazed into the eyes of my new-born niece Ruby for the first time. Beautiful Ruby Joy. I want the world to be different for her. I want her to know that she’s loved, redeemed and chosen by God for a special purpose. I want her to be able to use her God-given gifts without limitation or hesitation.
I hope for a different world for Ruby and girls like her.
Hope is not just a word; real hope spurs us to action. It fuels us to be so dissatisfied with the status quo that we’ll be the change that we want to see in the world.
God has placed you where you are – in the arts, in a school, in a shop, in a hospital, in a council, in an office – for a reason. As Zoe challenged us, we’re called to creatively cultivate a culture which is different to the prevailing narrative. Christine reminded us that we’re called to be mischief makers.
Holy discontent is at the heart of change. So if you’re struggling to find your holy discontent, here’s three questions for you to grapple with:
What has God broken your heart for? What are you prepared to suffer for?
What do you hope for today and how will this spur you to creatively cultivate culture?
Let’s ‘be fearless in the pursuit of what sets our soul on fire’.