Heathdale flower 19th March 2021

Satisfaction Guaranteed?

Should we chase satisfaction?

Heathdale flower

For the past 18 months, the Staff and I have been looking at the difference between surface-learning versus deep, rich learning. One of the things we have come to understand and appreciate, as we have grappled with these concepts is, surface- or shallow-learning is something that is only focused in the immediate — the short-term — and relies heavily upon our short-term memory. It helps us in the moment. It helps us to immediately give the answer needed, respond as necessary or even complete a test. It’s an ability we need our minds to have in place.

Whereas deep, rich learning relies on us to making greater use of our long-term memory. As such, deep, rich learning is more ingrained and is able to be used for a considerable time after. Deep, rich learning enables us to transfer what we have learned to a variety of situations and this is why we understand that deep, rich learning can also impact and shape our character development too.

I was reminded of this insight the staff and I have gained when I recently read the following verse. “Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

One of the first things I happened to notice about this statement is that we are encouraged not to seek for blessedness, but for righteousness! I started to ponder, in using these words, is Jesus suggesting blessedness is like surface-learning and righteousness like deep, rich learning? This thought started to resonate with me. Surely though, seeking blessedness is not a bad thing?

I recall hearing someone describe how their pleasure of the game of golf is proportionate to the degree to which they are able to lose themselves in the game. While it lasts, it’s absorbing; their whole mind and focus is on the game. If, however, they reflected on the round of golf a day or two later and asked themself, ‘Precisely how much pleasure did I derive from playing a round of golf?’ The sense of pleasure evaporates and they start to feel bemused by the image of walking all over these wide and open, manicured pieces of green turf, chasing a little white ball!

As I listened to this account with a few chuckles (I could readily identify with chasing a little white ball), it was clear that the satisfaction they were gaining from the game was only temporary. Here one moment, gone the next and all very much dependent on how the club was swinging and how well the ball was hit. This account further impressed upon me that satisfaction or blessedness must not be our centre. Rather, our focus needs to be on something deeper, something other than our pursuits. It was then I believe, that I started to have a better understanding of Jesus’ words.

Those who continually reach out for satisfaction, ultimately — sadly enough — remain unsatisfied. Satisfaction and contentment, we need to realise, are by-products. We do not find them, they find us! If we make gaining contentment, blessedness or satisfaction a goal, then it will most likely elude us like a will-o’-the-wisp. If we give up the chase and focus on living in a right relationship with Jesus, then blessedness will take up residence in our hearts, souls and minds. Our primary concern should always be to put Jesus and His righteousness first. When we get taken up with His righteousness, He, in return, gives us satisfaction.

This is a piece of wisdom and understanding we desire all our students to grasp. As we have the opportunity to gently guide and support them through life’s journey, our desire is that as they understand the depth and breadth of how much God loves them. As they rest in His love, they will know and experience a deep sense of contentment in their lives. This will be transformational for them and something they will call upon in the rest of life’s journey.