Have you ever caught yourself living for tomorrow? You know, the “Grass is always greener” syndrome? You’ve heard the expression, “The Grass is always greener on the other side.” It expresses what so many of us feel every day – discontentment with our current lives and with who we are today.
What about you? Do you compare yourself with your friends, your neighbors, or your family (or your friend’s car, house, or income?). Do you measure your success by the things you don’t have rather than being thankful for the things you do have? Many of us do – you are not alone.
Instead of wishing we had the perceived fortune of others, what if we began appreciating what we have and investing in our own lives and the lives of those around us?
This question reveals that the issue is with me and the issue is with you, not our circumstances. If you are discontent with your circumstances, your marriage, your career, etc., then you have to begin with your heart. Are you thankful for what you do have, or are you constantly dreaming of what “Could be” or what “Could have been”? Proverbs 28:19 says, “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” If you believe you will only be made happy by having something you don’t currently have, you will forever be dissatisfied with your life.
This recently hit home for me. We just bought a home, a Jeep, and all the various expenses that come with such large purchases. Money gets tight, even when you budget for it. I found myself dreaming about not having to worry about money. I know, I know. “Money can’t buy happiness. Money doesn’t solve problems. Money can’t fix everything.” But I found myself wanting to plumb the depths of those truths myself. I realized I was whispering to God, “Give me a ton of money, and allow me to see if money can solve my problems.” After some prayer and conversations with my wife, I have realized that lack of money is not my main problem; it has only served to reveal my heart. I have not been trusting God with my life and circumstances; I was trying to rely on my own resourcefulness and ability.
A friend of mine recently asked, “What would you have if you woke up every morning with only the things you thanked God for the day before?” Not much, I’m afraid. My recent circumstances only revealed my desire to live independently of God’s provision and care, showing me that I wish I could be in charge of my life. Somehow I have believed the lie that I would care for myself better than God does.
What if you don’t want to live the hamster-wheel, treadmill life? Well, you need to ask yourself a few questions.You have to figure out what your joy is rooted in and dependent upon. Are you only happy when things are going well for you, when your bank account is full, when your spouse is kind to you, when everything is going your way? Surely you have found out by now that these change like the wind and will never deliver the joy you were created to live in and experience. So, why do we keep living as if they can?
Also, are you living your life or are you spending your time wishing you could live someone else’s life? Are you watering the grass that God has put before you? Proverbs 28:17 says, “He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit….” The obvious inverse of this statement is that, “He who does NOT tend his fig tree will NOT eat its fruit.” Are you tending your garden? Are you watering what God has entrusted you with? Perhaps the reason we struggle with discontentment is that we spend too much time dreaming and not enough time watering what we already hold dear in our lives.
Matthew 15:18 says, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart….” So if you are unhappy with your life, angry at your circumstances, or jealous of those around you, the Bible says that the problem is not your circumstances, it’s your heart. Now there are things you can do to improve your circumstances, but if your circumstances (or lack thereof) bring out sin, then the problem is you. The Bible says that when you are shaken, what is inside of you comes out, just as when you spill a glass of milk, milk comes out because milk was in the glass. If you are shaken by your situation and sin comes out of you, then sin is inside of you. Paul David Tripp says, “What rules your heart will shape and control your relationships.” So figure out what is ruling your heart. Here’s a hint. Only two things can rule your heart – God, or anything and everything else.
On a practical note, where are you watering and what are you watering? Are you investing in and cultivating what God has given you – the relationships, the circumstances, the people, the situations? Or are you spending your time watering the dreams and fantasies of your life, the possessions, people, and circumstances of someone else’s life? If you are constantly looking over the fence and thinking that the grass is greener, then you are wasting your life and the Bible would call you “foolish.” Water what God has given you, and stand back to see the fruit and flowers grow.