The last couple weeks brought on some traveling. Some East Coast traveling.
I call our recent travels “a trip” instead of “a vacation”…because sightseeing with 4 semi-young children, well, doesn’t exactly feel like a vacation. You moms know what I mean.
Nevertheless, great memories were made, and it was a successful trip.
But I must say, the East Coast surprises me. Why? Because it is crazy beautiful and green over there! Somehow I’d come to believe that most states aren’t nearly as awesome as California. But I was wrong, I repent of my geographic partiality. In fact, the more of our country I saw, the more I realized other states have a lot to offer that California doesn’t have!
I am not saying us Cali folks should start packing up and moving outa state! To the contrary, noticing the beauty out there reminded me that contentment with what you do have (or where you do live) is paramount. It’s extremely easy to notice how much better other people have it. And comparisons left unchecked can quickly take us down a road of discontentment, frustration, or a general lack of gratitude– All because our focus is in the wrong place.
Focus on What You Have
Our focus needs to be on what we do have. Not just materially, and obviously not just with where we live. In every area. With our talents and abilities, with our life circumstances, in our relationships, with our health, and of course, with our stuff. We need to look at our lives, find the good, and be grateful! Because for all that we don’t have, there’s plenty that we do.
When we focus on what we do have, it should lead us to gratitude. And God wants us to be thankful people! Consider a few passages:
“Give thanks in all circumstances.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:20.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17.
We will not succeed at obeying these commands by dwelling on what we’re lacking.
This means when we notice the talent, happiness, health, wealth, or ease of people’s lives, we don’t compare it to ours. Instead, we choose to thank God for the abilities, blessings, and joys he’s given us. It’s like we look through 2 different windows — one to see other people’s lives, and one to see ours — both windows have good views, and comparing rarely has benefit.
Focus on What You Will Have
Not only should we focus on what we do have, we should focus on what we will have.
In this life, some people may have more exciting lives or more fulfilling relationships. Some places to live may be better. Some people may be more successful. Your life may not get easier, better, smoother, or more glamorous…now… but don’t forget, we are not setting up shop here forever. This is all temporary.
An eternal perspective should actually halt the comparison game. It’s as if we’re all given rental cars for the day — in which case it would be silly to spend time wishing for a different vehicle, and it would certainly be silly to compare your rental car to mine (or mine to yours). We only have it for one day! We should be thankful for the car we got, enjoy whatever features it has, and use it to drive from point A to point B. Anything else is a waste of time and energy.
When you find yourself discontent with what “you got,” remember the temporary nature of life. Remember the best is yet to come. Don’t chase after aspects of life that are merely like “rental cars.”
Winning the Comparison Game
It is easy to compare our lives to others. Whether it happens when we travel the country, scroll through social media, or when we get together with friends. Needless to say, without a tight reign on our thoughts, comparison leads to nowhere good!
But with intentionality, we can focus on what we do have, and what we will have, making us the comparison game victor! For when we maintain our focus, we become more grateful and more heavenly minded — And that sounds like a win to me!