The Grass Is Always Greener
You’ve probably heard that old saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” It’s all about envy, longing, and regret. Our “neighbor” has something we don’t, something we want, something we envy.
You’ve probably also heard that there are hidden imperfections on the other side of that fence—that the grass isn’t really greener over there at all. You only think it is.
Maybe the Grass IS Greener
Well, let me challenge conventional wisdom and tell you that sometimes the grass really IS greener on the other side. Not always, certainly, but sometimes.
A single man can’t find his ideal wife. A married man wants a do-over. A mother agonizes over a rebellious son. A childless wife cries herself to sleep. And on and on it goes. Each one looks around and feels pain because others have the blessings they want. For them, the grass is greener on the other side.
Sometimes, in some ways, things really ARE better elsewhere— for reasons we can control or for reasons we can’t.
3 Envy-Fighting Tips
Now that I’ve given you the bad news, let me share three practical things that can help you avoid a meltdown every time you notice your neighbor’s greener grass. Because, face it, someone somewhere will always have something we don’t—something we wish we had.
This first tip may be the toughest: Practice contentment. The Apostle Paul was a great example. In Phillipians 4:11 Paul said he’d learned to be content whatever his state. This came from a man who had been shipwrecked, snakebitten, persecuted, and imprisoned. All for doing the right thing.
No, we won’t get everything we want when we want it, the way we want it. But we CAN train ourselves to immediately replace envy with gratitude and praise for what we do have. Envy can lead to bitterness: Hebrews 12:15 says that many are defiled by bitterness, and Ephesians 4:31 says we should put bitterness away.
Our gratitude can free us, and it pleases God.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I do NOT suggest contentment with situations like abuse and other dangers. In fact, if you’re in danger, stop reading this post now and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is available 24/7. If your computer use may be monitored, you can call them instead at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Please make your safety a priority!
So, back to our analogy.
A typical neighborhood often has two special houses: “THE House” (said with a smile) and “that house” (said as if something smells bad!).
“THE House” has perfect landscaping, a weed-free bed of colorful flowers, and the lushest lawn on the block. On the other hand, if you didn’t know better, you’d think “that house” was abandoned. The weed beds and scraggly crabgrass would be right at home in front of a haunted house.
“THE House” is proof that sometimes things are better on the other side of the fence. They’re better when the folks who live there make them better.
The good news, then, is that we can do that, too–through Commitment.
Commitment is the opposite of drifting. Wishing, hoping and complaining about our lives while we do nothing to change them is drifting. We drift when we let the currents of life bounce us around, envying our neighbor’s good fortune and doing nothing to change our own.
Instead, we can learn ways to improve our own lives. We can stop hoping for “good luck” or even for miracles to fall on us from Heaven. God has given us incredible minds, remarkable creativity, and a ton of resources around us. We can use them to get un-stuck and move toward the kind of life we want.
We have to commit to taking action and to not giving up.
Whether we’re working to be more content and thankful or making real change in our lives, we need a Community. This is where the Body of Christ comes in—particularly, the local church. Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens; Proverbs 27:17 says that we make one another sharper; and Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice and weep with one another.
So as we work to make our own “grass” greener, let’s not take the trip alone. Let’s intentionally build friendships and mentoring relationships in our local churches so that as individuals we can grow and thrive together. If your church doesn’t have a group like this, maybe it’s time you launched one.
Go Forth and Conquer
Now you have 3 ideas for conquering that green grass problem: Contentment, Commitment, and Community. You probably have some ideas of your own, and I’d love for you to share them below.
More than that, though, I want you to do something. Make a plan and get to work so that this time next year, the greener grass will be YOURS!