Which of us hasn’t at one time or another envied someone else? In our culture of putting your best face forward on social media, most of what we see from others is their “highlight reel.” We rarely hear of the struggles and dark times until they are over. It’s easy to look at someone else’s life from the outside in and think, “Gosh, they are living the dream life. If only I had what they had, or did what they did.” When in reality, we know nothing of the private struggles and hardships that either brought them to where they are, or face them everyday. If we knew, perhaps we wouldn’t envy them quite so much. We are each on a journey through life with a different purpose and end goal. I want to encourage you to run your own race to the finish line. If you are constantly glancing beside you, over your shoulder, or up ahead to see what everyone else is doing, you will lose this race called life. You will live with regret and miss out on the great adventure you’ve been called to live. It is only when we keep an attitude of gratitude alive within us, that we can accomplish this on a daily basis.
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve let comparison hold me back from doing and being my own personal best. I have a competitive nature, but it’s not your typical “I’m gonna win no matter what!” mindset. It’s more, “I want to win and I won’t be satisfied until I do!”. But when I see someone else succeeding at something I want to be good at, I immediately feel defeat. I tend to think, “They are doing SO well at that. I can never achieve the same level of greatness so why even try?” That kind of thinking will get us no where. Just because someone else has or is something we want, doesn’t mean we it isn’t available for us too. Hebrews 12:1-11
Maybe it’s not a literal “winning or losing” for you. Maybe it’s possessions, whether material or immaterial. You see that girl on stage and think, “Why couldn’t I have been blessed with such an amazing voice?” Not even to sing on stage, but just to be able to carry a tune in the shower! Maybe you see the slender mom of four who seems to have it all together, including the adoration of her handsome husband. Meanwhile you’ve struggled to get pregnant, suffered through a messy divorce, or you are still single and all these things are still a figment of your hopeful imagination. You lose a little bit of hope with each passing day, assuming God must have forgotten about the desires of your longing heart.
Or maybe you see people years younger than you, living the lifestyle you’ve dreamed of. A nice new house with a (figurative) white picket fence, multiple vehicles, vacations to Disney and the beach, weekly shopping trips with nary a budget in sight and zero financial stress. Now, some of you reading this maybe have some of those things. But I bet there are things people don’t know when they look at what you have. Like the fact the there is financial stress involved and it’s killing your marriage. Or the fact that you had very humble beginnings and know what it is to struggle and now are reaping your rewards of hard work, patience and delayed gratification. Still others of you have simply been blessed with all of these things and you’re not sure why others don’t have them. That’s OK! Your struggles may lie elsewhere. We all have them. They just take different forms. The point is that it doesn’t matter. You were made to live YOUR story. Not someone else’s. You’ve been equipped with exactly what you need to tackle both the struggles and the joys of your life. Romans 12:6-8
So how do we go from comparison, envy and covetousness to joyfully celebrating our own lives, strengths and blessings?
By choosing to have an attitude of gratitude. When you begin each day with a grateful heart, it is nearly impossible to covet or envy someone else. It’s difficult to feel sad or to have a bad attitude. If you begin to list all the things you are grateful for in your life – focusing not on your lack but what you have – you will find that you have a lot more to be grateful for than you thought. And maybe you don’t really need anything else to be happy. Hebrews 13:5
There will always be lack in your life. You will never reach a point when you finally have everything you want or think you need. There is always the next thing. Rather than look at that as something depressing, see it for what it is. Part of the journey. If we have nothing to strive for, life could get boring! But there is a reason for the cliche “life is in the journey.” It’s the pursuit of these things that make up the majority of our days here on earth. If we spend them, wishing them away for the end when we obtain the elusive “everything”, our lives will then be over. Don’t miss the abundant blessings that God has gifted you with today. I encourage you to start a gratitude journal and daily list what you are grateful for. Or at the very least, take a few minutes in your morning and offer up a prayer of thankfulness. If you have to start as basic as thanking him for clean air to breathe and water to drink, start there. There is always something to be thankful for, during this holiday season & everyday.