I think that "settling" has become one of those words in our language that has taken on a negative connotation where one may not have existed before. We can settle down when we're angry, we can settle our affairs, we can settle a disagreement, we can even settle in a new place. The most common usage that I hear lately, however, is "settle for less."
We hear this a lot in terms of career choices and dating choices. I think it's a product of our "you can be whatever you want to be" and "you're great at everything you've ever done" upbringings that make young adults of this generation feel like they're constantly settling. This job market has forced many of us to "settle." And not just settle in the sense of putting down roots, but settle in the sense of achieving less or earning less or moving up slower than we expected to or were told we could.
I read something a few months ago, and was reminded of it again recently, and it totally re-framed my thinking on the idea of settling. Here's a brief run-down, but first, a quick and important reminder:
Those of us in Christ are entitled to NOTHING. That job you "settled" for? A huge, undeserved blessing. The apartment you "settled for"? Having a roof over your head at all is something that the Lord never guaranteed. Remember when you "settle" that it's an act of God's provision, not a shortcoming on your part.
So, with that said, here's the other piece of knowledge that opened my eyes immensely:
Maximizers VS. Satisficers
We all fall into one category or another in our decision making.
Maximizers tend to be optimistic in the sense that they truly believe that there is a perfect "fit" for every decision. They believe that a perfect partner, a perfect house, a perfect pair of jeans exist-- and it's their job to find them. They embody the ideal that working hard means you get what you want. Maximizers are perfectionists.
Satisficers are realists in the sense that they believe there are many options which could work as the solution for a problem. They believe that as long as they find something that meets X, Y, and Z criteria, that it's good enough. They embody the ideal that people and objects can be trusted at face-value, and as such, there's no reason to look further. Satisficers are settlers.
Kind of crazy, right? I don't know about you, but I can't look at these two terms without thinking about the people in my life who fit these roles. For example, our dad is a total maximizer, and our mom is a total satisficer. They are also completely opposite in other ways, but this is an obvious one. Unfortunately for my dad, I believe M and I got the satisficer gene. Our younger sister could be another story (her prom dress shopping extravaganza may prove this)!
I say that I'm a satisficer to make this point: settling doesn't have to be a bad thing. I'll say that again for the sake of those reading who are caught up in the "more, more, more attitude" of this world: settling doesn't have to be a bad thing.
We've been indoctrinated from an early age to reach higher, perform better, grow stronger, and look prettier. It's EXHAUSTING. It says, "You're not good enough as is." And you know what settling says? "You are perfect as you are."
And God really believes that. He really believes we are perfect no matter the job we have or the money we don't have, the awards we receive or the promotions we don't receive, the competitions we win or the offers that we lose. God is SATISFIED with us and by us, just as we are at this very moment. And if we are made in His image, is it so wrong to be satisfied with ourselves or our choices, even if the world says that we're "settling"?
I'm not saying you should give up on the idea of growth, or fixing your bad habits, or losing that extra 10 lbs. I think it's important to be the best "you" that you can be. But I also think it's important to maintain the mindset that even broken things can be valuable, and that "good enough" sometimes really is good enough. And to maintain that mindset without guilt.
Because if God can take our weakness and use it for strength, we can certainly take a terrible job or a crummy apartment and use it for good. Settling doesn't have to be a bad thing.