How to Overcome Feeling Dissatisfied and Unfulfilled

"King David in Prayer" by Pieter de Grebber

“King David in Prayer” by Pieter de Grebber

Have you ever felt Dissatisfied and Unfulfilled?

Do you ever feel as if you are missing out on something important or falling just short of some goal or purpose? Maybe you are unable to put adequate words to this feeling, you just know there is something out of balance in your life – something lacking.

We sometimes experience this as a vague feeling of uneasiness, at other times as a major emotional challenge.  At still other times we may not notice it at all, but it is likely hiding just below the surface.

There is no doubt that we live in a time that has produced an unprecedented, high number of self-help gurus and their books, magazines, centers and offices.

Why?

I believe the answer can be found in today’s scripture readings at Mass for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A).

In the Gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus tells his apostles – and us – that we are the salt of the earth.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matthew 5:13).

Yes, Jesus was speaking to his disciples, particularly his apostles who would soon shoulder great responsibilities in the early life of the Church, but he was also addressing those of us who would follow.

Each of us, by virtue of our baptism, is incorporated into the Body of Christ and “share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1268).

Jesus also teaches us that we are the light of the world.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:14-16).

It is clear that Jesus see us – and common sense tells us – that unbelievers will judge the Christian faith by the lived example of those who claim to be Christian.

In the context of the Gospel passage, these two sayings are both a warning and an encouragement to us all. This is the life to which we who have said yes to Christ have been called. It is both a great responsibility and a great blessing.

What Practical Questions Should We Ask Ourselves Today?

Jesus tells us that we are love God above all and also love one another (cf. Matthew 22:34-40).

Do I fit Jesus into my schedule or do I plan my schedule around my love for Christ?

Do I place the needs of others before my own needs and wants?

When people look at me, are they attracted to Christ or discouraged from knowing him?

Until I place God and others before myself, I will not live according to God’s plan and design. Until then, I will not live authentically according to my nature and the dignity of my personal call to communion with God.

Now be truthful with yourself. How often have you wanted to be more, to live more in Christ, but just could not find the time. The reason is because we place the temporal, passing things of this world above the eternal gifts and blessings of the life to come.

When the end of your days arrives, what will be more important to you – the business and priorities of this short life or the eternal realities we too often neglect?

So why do we keep making the same wrong choices?

We know all this, right? So why do we keep making the same wrong choices?

I believe we fail to trust in the One Who made us and sustains us. We trust ourselves instead. Now is that rational? Not by anyone’s definition of the word.

In the second reading, St. Paul alludes to the secret of living a successfully authentic life… rely on the power of God and acknowledge and accept our own weakness.

“When I came to you, brothers and sisters, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

In the first reading, Isaiah proclaims that living justly – particularly in regards to the suffering and afflicted – is to walk with the Lord in blessing, “your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you… the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard… light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday” (cf. Isaiah 58:7-10).

How to Find and Keep Focus

In general, we must nourish our faith by living a prayerful, sacramental and just life – giving God and one another their due.

For many, this will require a radical change in the practice of the faith. Too many lives are incomplete and restless because priorities are upside down and backwards. Trust Jesus and this can change overnight. It is time to get right with the Lord!

Here are practical steps for a change in approach to living the faith throughout the day.

  1. Decide to trust Christ more than yourself. Then surrender to His Will. Ask Jesus for the grace to remain faithful to this decision. In your weakness, rely on His strength.
  2. Begin each day with prayer before you do anything else. Give praise and thanksgiving to God. Thank Him for seeing you safely through the night and granting you the blessings of a new day. Ask His help to live the day conformed to His plan for you. Offer all your efforts to His greater glory.
  3. As you plan your day, give first priority to God, don’t relegate Him to what time is left over. Make sure that you set aside prime time for prayer. Without prayer, no progress can be made. If possible attend Mass on days when not required.
  4. Throughout the day, ask God to help you to see the people He places in your path, to know and understand His purpose in the encounter, and the courage to do as He asks. Seek to help those in need, kind to all, returning love for anger. Live your faith in joy.
  5. When the opportunity arises, be ready to share with all the reason for your joyful faith.
  6. Take inventory of how you fared during the day, asking the Lord to see your day as He sees it. Be encouraged by your successes and resolve to correct your failings by His grace.
  7. At the beginning and end of each day, ask for His protection, wisdom, correction and consolation

Into the deep…

Editor’s Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) – Isaiah 58:7-10; Psalms 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; First Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16


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Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™ and usually appears on Sundays.

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization. He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplains to the St. Peter Chanel Business Association and co-founder of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

Looking for a Catholic Speaker?  Check out Deacon Mike’s speaker page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.


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About the Author

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplain of the St. Peter Chanel Faith at Work Business Association and co-founder and Chaplain of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

He and his wife have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

NB: The views I express on this site are my own. I am not an official spokesman for either my parish or diocese.

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3 Comments

  1. I was just going through this during and after Mass. For a while I have been battling with my being impatient, feeling like I am not living to my potential as a Catholic. I am in my mid 20s. I have, on one side, what I would like to do, how I would like to live my faith and how I see I could glorify God the most. But I am incredibly, to the point of tears, afraid of disappointing God, for perhaps what I have in mind is not what is in His plan. How would I or anyone know, right? I ask for His answers, to lead me the way, and to do His will and help me accept whatever it is, regardless of it matching my wishes. But I am ever so impatient. Today after the reading and gospel I went back to this, and felt so desperate after Mass. I cried hard, and prayed and asked the lord to make me more patient, to not try and figure his will out all at once. It does not work that way. I ask anybody reading this message to please pray for me so that I may be patient and let His plan unfold with joy in the journey through this life. I think I need to take an active role in my community, that’s going to be a good start.

  2. Praise and Thank GOD for this wonderful and very clear article for all (not just for us Catholics…but for all GOD’s beloved children).
    Thank you so much Deacon Mike for sharing all these “Christ centered” ideas.
    ***I’ve been doing almost all your suggestions ( putting GOD first and at the center of my life…since I was in my high-school life) …and upon reading your article…I felt this happiness and fulfillment within me… For I know in my heart that our merciful and loving Savior Jesus Christ…has been guiding me in the right path …for I did honor and love dearly our Creator, Yahweh and His beloved son , our loving Savior, Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit (and I am still doing it—> as long as I exist).
    I am grateful (and forever will be) to our Almighty GOD for blessing me so much…(more than what I prayed for in this “Life Journey”) …for He has given me 56 years of wonderful Life… been married…to my loving and caring husband – Jose for 35 years…and GOD blessed us with 4 wonderful chiildren…
    > Marco Paolo, who will turn 34 this Feb. 23 and married to Maricris (again with GOD’s grace – blessed them with 2 kind children, Gavin, 8yrs old and their adorable daughter Phoebe who turned 1 last October).. Paolo who just completed his doctorate in Business Administration, and his wife —are now taking care of the family business…
    > Pancho Carlo, 30 yrs old married to Krizia also with their precious baby, Morgan, who also turned 1 last December..
    Pancho is in his first year residency training in Orthopedic surgery (following the footsteps of his father).
    > Patrick Joseph, who will be turning 27 this coming 18th of February, a registered nurse and now taking BSPO..he is engaged to Hazel…
    > and our youngest and only daughter, Crystal Angela, 19, a 3rd year architecture student in UST.
    GOD has been blessing her with artistic talent…she plays piano so well and can draw beautiful pictures (but she is very shy).
    ***Now that our children are all grown- up… I together with My husband…are now doing (not just “almost”) but “all” your suggestions/steps in – living in faith.
    > Waking up early in the morning, 5am (not anymore preparing breakfast for the kids)—> but to walk while praying the rosary and end in the Carmelite Monastery in time for the 6am holy Mass.
    And we continue…
    * Putting GOD first in everything,
    * Praising and Thanking GOD
    “always”,
    * Trusting all to GOD – relying on
    His strength especially when we
    are weak,
    * Doing our “common mission”…
    “To know,
    To Love &
    To Serve the Lord our GOD”
    by loving and serving others –
    “GOD’s beloved people”.
    Doing all these for GOD’s greater glory. ❤ ☺

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