“It’s not fair!” he shouted. Joshua and Luke were outside playing. Josh said he wanted chalk and so I got it for him, then Luke wanted bubbles, so I got those too. Josh saw the bubbles Luke had to demanded he get some too. I told him he couldn’t have the bubbles right now, he needed to play with the chalk he asked for and then maybe later he could play with bubbles if he had a better attitude. He didn’t like that answer. He was so focused on what he didn’t have that he couldn’t appreciate what he did have.
I remember times like that as a kid. I wanted this one toy so badly, and then once I got it, I saw another toy my friend had and instantly wanted that toy instead of the nice new toy I had just gotten.
It doesn’t stop with kids either. As an adult I find myself wanting what others have that I don’t have even if I have just gotten something I asked for. It’s never enough, it’s called envy. With kids it’s toys and little stuff, but with adults it’s bigger and better. Houses, cars, money and also opportunities. Why does so and so get this job promotion and I don’t? Why does so and so have a this ministry opportunity and I don’t? Why does so and so have a baby and I am dealing with infertility? Why does so and so have a good marriage and I don’t? Why does so and so have great kids and mine are not so great? Why does so and so have a seemingly easy life and all I have is hard difficult things? Have you ever asked yourself these questions? I sure have. And if you keep following that logic you start to go down the road of what I deserve. Don’t I deserve this thing I want because of all I have done for God? Yikes! Ever thought that? Guilty. We are human after all and we have these thoughts. It’s what we do with them that matters.
I encouraged Joshua to be content with what he had before I would give him something else. It’s something you have to practice. You have to practice being content because it certainly doesn’t come naturally. How do you do that?
Count your blessings. The remedy for being ungrateful is being thankfulness. Listing out all the things I have to be thankful for instantly changes my focus. I focus on myself instead of other people. I am always saying to my kids, “worry about yourself and not other people”. Now normally we should think of others, but in this context where we are so focused on what others are doing or what they have, it’s good to focus on ourselves and what we do have. We have to work hard not to compare ourselves to others.
Understand where you belong. Sometimes we are envious of what other people have because we doubt that God has a plan that is good for our lives. We assume maybe he forgot us, that our neighbor got all the good stuff and we are left with whatever else. If we really believe God is good, that he is a good Father who gives good gifts to his children we will never be envious of others. If we really believe he is giving us the best for us, individually, then we won’t want what our neighbor has because we will realize it won’t be God’s best for us. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s a hard concept to grasp, but if you do, it will change you.
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30