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Will God really grant the desires of my heart for a spouse?


Bethany Allen

Today we get the pleasure of hearing from Bethany Allen about desire versus contentment and if god will grant the desires of our heart. 


Heyyy Heart of Dating famm! Today we have a bit of a throwback for our episode but one we think you NEED to hear! Bethany Allen joined us for the Heart of Dating Conference 2023 and BLESSED us with a WORD about desire and contentment. We thought in this season of tools to thrive in singleness, this sermon would be PERFECT! So let’s jump into this treat of an episode today with Bethany Allen! 

The word Bethany is bringing today isn’t from some abstract reality, it’s coming from her ACTUAL life of the journey it’s been to balance desire and contentment. This desire she feels for a partner, a family, children and yet somehow finding satisfaction in the waiting. The truth is for Bethany this hasn’t been an easy journey. 

A really unraveling and hard moment for Bethany was at 24 when her boyfriend of 5 years ended up not choosing her. The worst part was that she felt like God was in it. She felt like she had godly desires for him and marriage but at the end it didn’t happen. While she thought that the worst of it was the man she loved leaving her and her dreams being shattered, that actually wasn't true. What came to be in the fallout of this breakup was Christian people surrounding her and saying “you made an idol out of him, that’s why this didn’t work,” “you just weren’t ready,” “you just weren’t content in the Lord that’s why this didn’t happen for you.” This was the worst part of it for Bethany. These subtle words were actually catastrophic to what she thought about herself and God. What she heard in their words was that desire was dangerous, and contentment was fragile. Both of those realities set Bethany on a trajectory in her relationship life that forced her to redefine her own goodness and God’s goodness. 

This season left her holding some really hard questions that all of us have or will probably hold. Like, “How do you hold desire for something while also being content in your current season?” Deeper than that, “What do I or can I expect out of life? What can I expect from God in my life?” 

If you’ve wrestled with these questions then you probably understand what Bethany says when she says she’s wrestled or held tension regularly between this world and the ache for something that will actually satisfy a deeper desire. While this tension is noble and beautiful and theologically rich in so many ways, when it intersects with our real life, it’s a little tricky. When it intersects with my deepest desires the things I feel are most true and aligned with me that’s when things get harry. 

You have a choice around this topic.

So you can either join Bethany on the adventure and let God maybe speak to you, or not. 

Philippians 4: 10-13. 

Paul wrote this in jail. “Whatever the circumstances.” Paul has learned in any circumstance to be content. 

There are 2 things Bethany wants us to grab right here and not miss. 

  1. That paul says he’s learned to be content. The word “content” here in the greek means to be satisfied with what one has free of the need from anything external to satisfy him. So here we have Paul saying he’s learned to be soul satisfied with both what he has, and where he is, and who he is. 
  2. Paul has LEARNED. The greek here means the discipline or practice in which one directs their mind to something and it produces an external result. More simply put, it means you learn through and by experience. Meaning that contentment isn’t just spiritual idea or set of rhythms that we as followers of Jesus happen upon, instead he says it’s a discipline. It is in simpler terms, a choice. Contentment for you is a choice. 

Which takes us to verse 13 where he says I can do all things, and what he’s really saying here is, “I can do anything through the one who empowers me and enables me to be satisfied. Making Jesus and dependence on Him central and key to experiencing contentment. 

So, some of you are looking for contentment but you don’t have Jesus you’re not going to find it. 

When I think about this, I think okay that’s Paul but I’m Bethany. 

Psalm 16. It’s here we’re plopped into the very personal prayer of King David. David never shys away from telling God how he feels and no matter what he’s taken back to satisfaction. 

The point here is that David is saying something we don’t want to miss. We see all across the old testament David’s desire and his contentment seem to be rooted in the same thing. There were a lot of things that David desired in his life but didn’t get. Somehow though, we see David had both desire and contentment. Despite every desire not being met, and every circumstance not going his way, he had hope that led him to find rest for his soul. 

Paul and David, in them we see an image that actually challenges what it means to walk well in our season. Each fought for and fought against the challenges and tensions that many of us have spent much of our adult lives avoiding. Somewhere within their wrestle with God and with their desires, they found contentment that could satisfy their souls. The truth is what we see in them has less to do with their abilities and more to do with their willingness to avoid sanitising what they most desire before God and trusting God that He would be faithful to them without compromise until the end. We see in scripture that God does not separate desire from contentment. It’s from their desire, their wrestle with contentment and how they’re inherently linked we find greater revelation and greater insight. Desire and contentment need each other. If we can get that truth that can change everything for us. 

The problem.

For the last 50 years or so in the church we have seperated desire and contentment. In doing so we’ve created we’ve redefined the terms in a way that has made both indirectly at odds with each other. Historically in this conversation desire has been framed as this active word that needs to be pursed and at the same time contained. In that we receive the message that it’s dangerous. Contentment on the otherhand it’s been seen as a passive reality. A marker in a Christian life that’s distinguished by kind of a reluctant acceptance rather than a deliberate, life-giving choice or experience. Making that seen fragile or difficult at best, and boring and ineffective at worst. These frameworks and narratives have allowed many of us to make assumptions about our own hearts and our own situations that have ultimately led us to a disempowered and limited view of what is actually possible with both. 

How do we get beyond these definitions to the power what lies within them? How do we know what to expect when we do?

In order for us to really understand this and reframe our experience we have to understand what we’re working with. You have to understand what desire is. Beyond what your youth pastor told you, beyond what culture keeps communicating to you. You have to from a lens that has actual power and authority from Jesus understand what desire is and understand what it means for us as humans. Then lean into how it informs both your present and your future. Then after that and ONLY after that, can you consider what it means to define contentment. To an experience of a soul that is satisfied. Satisfied in what we have and who we are. 


Webster Dictionary’s definition of desire is to long for, to hope for something or someone. And this definition is great until you really start to think about it. Desire is the currency of the soul. It is the vehicle for relationships and connection and human agency and it’s powerful. We have to ask why. Why as created beings, why does desire live so deeply within and why does it feel so connected to our experience within? Desire was and is an essential part of our design. In Genesis we see this playing out. Desire wasn’t a impulse, it’s a key part for how God wants us to know him and experience what’s around us. Desire is GOOD. If we truly get that, that desire is good, it’s going to change how we experience and receive God’s fulfillment of our desires. If desire is FROM God then only God can fulfill it. Our design informs our desire and our desire informs our destiny. This should take the pressure off of you feeling like you should fulfill your desire for yourself. 


Contentment can be defined as a state of happiness or satisfaction. This does make sense but as we desire it has a farther reach. Contentment is actually the outcome of fulfilled desire. Contentment is only found when our desires conform with God’s desires. Contentment leads us to Christ himself. We don’t beleive Jesus is enough which is why contentment seems so far out of reach. The cost of hope is trust. This will demand a dependence on what God can only do. 

It is a lack of surrender that leads us to a lack of contentment. 

Obstacles and How to Move Trough Them

Control. Everyone has experienced the desire to be LIKE God. While the desire is good when mixed with sin it moves to wanting to BE God. We start to do weird things when we feel out of control. Control is ultimately a sign of an unsurrendered life. That keeps us from living in a place of peace. 

Disappointment. Waves of saddness from what we thought would be, could be, or should be, but isn’t. It’s the emotional powerhouse that keeps us from trusting God is good and giving ourselves fully to him. Disappointment is okay but what we do with it will determine our future. 

Perspective. The right perspective of what you already posses leads to contentment in the midst of unmet desires. The wrong perspective will keep you from them. It’s not about what’s before you it’s about the way you’re looking at what’s before you. Our obstacles are often centered around what we worship and where we place our hope. Where do you place your hope? 

How to Move Through This

If you’re going to do this you have to get honest about your desires. You have to learn to tell God the truth. Tell other people. 

Choose to work it out. You’re married ot the Lord. You’re already in a covenant relationship, be faithful. You don’t stay long enough to hear His goodness for you. 

Release the outcome. Racically accept what God has given you NOW. Let go of what you though was intended for you and accept what actually is for you. 

Welcome God’s presence. Learn what it means to know God’s presence in your life. Be filled with faith. 

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Bethany Allen

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Bethany Allen is the Pastor of Spiritual Formation & Leadership Development at Bridgetown Church in downtown Portland. She has a deep passion to see people defined by who they were created to be: image-bearers of God. Compelled by her affection for the scriptures and her desire to be an effective learner in order to be an effective teacher, Bethany works hard counseling, developing curriculum, and planning alongside Bridgetown’s pastoral team. A southern belle by birth, Bethany moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2007. She earned a Master of Arts in Specialized Ministry with a focus in Pastoral Care to Women from Western Seminary in 2011.

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