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Satisfaction versus Fulfillment
by Rick Stephenson
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Are you satisfied or are you fulfilled? On the surface you might think what’s the difference but deep within the person of who you are, there is a substantial separation between the two just about as wide as the Grand Canyon.

To be satisfied means to do enough to feel pleased or content, to gratify a desire, to meet a requirement or condition. Therefore, in order to say that we are satisfied, we first must know what would please us or in other words what desires motivate us toward action. Once identified, we begin to pursue activities or things that will meet those desires.

Realize, however that desires go above and beyond needs. After all, a need is something that is required to have success, while a desire is a want, request or craving. For example; when your stomach growls indicating that your body is hungry, you obviously need food in order to have success for living (because if you don’t meet the need eventually you will die), however, when you consider what to eat and you begin to crave your favorite food (let’s assume it’s chocolate – like mine), you now have combined your need with a desire. (This is why it becomes all too easy for us to confuse our needs and desires because they can become so intertwined.)

Then let’s assume you go to the pantry or refrigerator and all you see is a loaf of bread. There’s no chocolate in site. What do you do especially if it’s midnight, all the stores are closed, and you’re fresh out of cash, gas and any ability to get some? Do you panic (as I might)? Do you go back to bed or does the ever louder grumbling in the pit of your tummy make you decide to eat a slice or two of bread and call it a night? The motivation of a need will make you swallow down the bread and say goodnight. Your need has been satisfied. Although your desire may not have been, you may pass on the desire because of the satisfied need.

When you awake in the morning, your desire may have faded since your underlying need is gone. Nevertheless, for argument’s sake let’s assume further that your desire for chocolate is still present even though your need for food has been satisfied. So now, you begin to hunt for ways to meet your desire. You think about walking to the store to get some, picking up the phone to call a friend, who can bring you some, or even writing a cardboard sign to say, “Will Work for Chocolate” and standing on the corner.

Let’s keep rolling here – assume with me that someone reads your pitiful sign and stops and blesses you with a gift of M&M’s. You smile, thank them profusely and even though you have no twinge of hunger proceed to devour the bag and breathe a sign of relief because your chocolate desire has now been completely gratified. There is only one lingering though in the recesses of your mind (that most of us will never deal with) and it is this: “Have I only been satisfied or I have I been fulfilled?”

Although the dictionary might consider the word fulfilled as a synonym of satisfaction, I believe there is indeed a vast difference and here’s why: Fulfillment means to do what is necessary to complete or bring something to an end, to supply the full amount, to realize your expectations or ambitions (in full). In other words, if you have a desire for chocolate and your favorite chocolate is a Dove bar but you only had M&Ms, yes you satisfied the desire for chocolate with the M&M’s but you would have enjoyed a Dove bar more were you only satisfied or were you fulfilled? The answer becomes clear when you see the word fulfilled broken out as full-filled. To be full or filled means to hold as much or as many as possible, being at the highest degree or largest extent, with nothing missing. Being fulfilled means then that there is room for nothing else; there is no further length in which we could go to meet the desire. Therefore, if I had given you a Dove bar your desire for chocolate would not only have satisfied, it would have fulfilled you.

Knowing this, why is it so hard for us in life to assess if we are only satisfied or fulfilled? Why is there usually this craving (desire) inside of us for something more when we may have climbed the corporate ladder, purchased a wonderful home, had the amazing 2.5 kids as the national average indicates and accumulated all the grown up toys? We do all of this thinking that these things will satisfy us and our desires but yet in the end there still seems an emptiness inside that is wanting, looking even searching for more.

Why? Because – we have settled for satisfaction rather than fulfillment. Our greatest desire as living beings is not satisfaction of the flesh but fulfillment of the spirit (or source of life) within this human shell. So let’s be real and honest with ourselves, there’s only one-way to find that fulfillment:

“…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – Jesus (John 10:10 NIV)

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV)

I would encourage you today to think about this: have you only been satisfied and if so will that get your ultimate desire met or do you long to be fulfilled? If you indeed want to be full of life then look to it’s source!

God Bless! – Rick

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