One of my biggest dreams is to genuinely repeat the words of Paul from his jail cell: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) Wow! To have that level of contentment must be unexplainably freeing.
I have my days in which nothing bothers me. I am resting in God’s promises and blessings and am truly thankful for what I have been given. Then there are other days: days when it seems that I have little value. There are too many other people who are prettier, thinner, more creative, more organized, wealthier, more patient, more loving, more giving. . .the list goes on. Just when I begin to think perhaps I am good at something, I come across someone WAY better.
It’s why I take periodic breaks from social media and hope to someday have the “courage” to stay off all together (you know, I can’t miss out on all the information or possible messages and notifications-as if no one has any other way to get ahold of me). The comparison trap has to be one of Satan’s favorite tools, and social media provides the perfect venue to blast people with how much better everyone else has it.
I made jam and I was pretty proud of myself, until I saw someone else’s post who made 3 times more than me. I thought I looked pretty good the other day, but I got on and saw someone’s selfie who looked absolutely flawless. We had a great time camping, but someone else was posting pictures from their Caribbean cruise. I got a cool new rug for the living room, but someone else got new flooring throughout their entire house. My husband got a raise, but someone else got a huge promotion that added $20,000 to their yearly income.
You know what I mean. It’s human nature. People want to show off their blessings. “Look how much fun we have.” “Look how great I look.” “Look how successful we are.” I’ve done it too. I think those, “Wish you were here!” postcards should end with a question mark instead of an exclamation point. As in, “Don’t you wish you were here?” And of course I do. It’s Bermuda for Pete’s sake and I’m in Michigan.
That’s why it seems an unending battle to fight the “green eyed monster” and pursue peace and contentment. We will never be able to genuinely utter Paul’s words if we compare ourselves to everyone else. Some things we have are better, some things aren’t nearly as nice. There will always be people who make more jam, and people who make less. There will always be people who make more money, and people who make less. There will always be people who are more profound and write better, and people who ask me to proofread their writing. That’s just the way it is. The point is to focus on what we do have.
It has been talked about in television shows, books, articles, blogs, and seminars. The secret is that thankfulness brings joy. If we count our blessings, we don’t have time to mourn what we are lacking. Oprah talked about having a gratitude journal. Ann Voskamp challenges people to list their blessings to 1,000-making it a daily habit. Some days I do well and keep listing and listing and listing. Other days I feel sorry for myself and it looks something like, “I have two arms,” or “I am not hungry.” But hey, those are things to be thankful for. It at least keeps my mind looking for the good in my life.
I have to admit, I haven’t been keeping up on my list, and I really, really need to get back at it. I know my triggers for comparison and I know I need to avoid those more. Perhaps you would like to join me? Let me know and I’ll pray for you as we seek to “learn” contentment. Remember, we are blessed. We may not be blessed in the exact same ways, but our blessings are no less significant.
If you want more encouragement, head on over to one of my favorite resources: