Where to look when the grass is greener somewhere else

We moved to our small town three years ago this past summer and one of the features we noticed right away were the pristine lawns. Our neighbors take pride in a healthy and vibrant lawn. Every once in a while, I’m tempted to let the one brown spot that sneaks up in my lawn to drive me crazy, especially if no one else’s lawn is dried up near me. It sticks out! I’ll think:

Wow, their grass sure is greener. What’s wrong with ours?

How telling is this in our own lives when we just aren’t content with our current circumstances. The grass looks greener in someone else’s yard and we deceive ourselves into thinking God is neglecting us. Why do I have to struggle financially? Why won’t my children obey? Why does my friend’s husband know her needs better than mine? Why does everyone love their job but me?

Why do I have to wait so long for God’s will? Will he ever fulfill my personal goals and dreams? How come everyone’s social media feeds are blemish-free, when my real life is full of blots?

The list goes on, doesn’t it?

A longing for something better

Someone else’s grass often looks greener when we dwell on the ache in our own soul for something different… Better… Life-giving. And somehow their life has made our shortcomings more obvious! Envy is a sickness in the soul and God knows it robs us of joy, peace, satisfaction, and more.

When my son John was seven, we were playing one day and he told me: “Mom, everything you see is a memory.”

His words were so simple yet profound. If everything in front of us is eventually a memory, that prods me to truly savor it as best I can. If I don’t embrace the life God has given me I’ll miss out on so many blessings – yes even when they feel like heavy burdens. I’ll miss out on what the Lord longs to teach me through my current struggles. I’ll waste precious time and those minutes then transform into a mere memory – never to be experienced again in the flesh but only in my mind and heart.

Psalm 90:12 encourages us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. I’ve always loved this verse especially as I think about friends and loved ones who’ve gone to be with Jesus. Numbering our days means no day ever created by God is wasted. It’s always purposeful. No day, no matter how depressing or discouraging, is worthless in God’s sight. I think of a talk I listened to recently by Ann Voskamp and she said, “God takes our hideous ashes and makes holy art.”

Look at the days God has given you

Wisdom tells you not to covet the life and days of another person, but to treasure the days God has given you. No matter what your circumstances are right now, there’s a blessing to be found somewhere even if it’s just the breath in your lungs.

The truth is at some point, all of us long for something different and better. Our hearts aren’t at home here- they were made for heaven. We all experience the ache from time to time.

The truth is that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Everyone gets brown spots and has bad days.

But when we trust in Jesus to give us the contentment that he alone can give, we embrace the life right in front of us. We trust him to do something beautiful and life-giving in our circumstances. Through a process, we learn to count our days and our blessings rather than another person’s. When our eyes are open and our hearts are listening, we’ll find miracles in the mess that we didn’t notice before.

Even when we’re tempted to think God didn’t get it right with us, we remember that He’s still good regardless of our fickle feelings. Step by step, we push back the lies that God doesn’t see us or hear our cries. We choose to believe the truth –  that Jesus cares, he knows, he’s working, he’s trustworthy and all our days are held in his nail-scarred hands.

Blessings to you and yours,

Samantha

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

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The Stuff That Satisfies (Hint: It’s Not Stuff)

photo: G&B's Art Gallery

Downtown Dallas sits proudly right outside our window. Every morning, I look forward to opening the blinds and watching the sun rise over the skyscrapers. We’re among a few of our friends who have a stunning view in seminary housing. We feel pretty blessed to live in an apartment that people typically pay big bucks for.

But don’t be fooled. On a tight seminary budget we aren’t rolling in the dough by any means!

And that’s just where my heart often longs for more especially since the discipline of being frugal can get old. While all my needs are being met in addition to my wants and then some, the sinful part of me believes that stuff will satisfy my deepest longings. And I’m not just talking about the “big” stuff. The silly, little stuff too.

God desires to bless me and to give me good things but it’s the coveting, obsession, mismanaging, greed, lack of contentment and making comparisons that are like poison to the soul.

True life and contentment can only be found in a person and that person is Jesus. Life cannot be found in material possessions or gadgets or other goodies. I’ve looked and I just can’t seem to find it. Life just doesn’t exist there.

I don’t need to worry about the stuff that will fill up my life on a daily basis either. As always, Jesus has a way of gently shooting straight to the core:

Consider the ravens; they do not sow or reap, yet they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! – Luke 12:24

Will God take care of me and even give me my deepest desires? Certainly. They might look different than what I thought but he promises to provide for me. And a raven… A bird that isn’t attractive or special… God has his eye on and cares for.

God is much more concerned about the details of my life than a raven.

He knows about the stuff I long, but he wants me to learn to lean on Him before I try to put my trust in things that have the potential to greatly disappoint and that aren’t eternal.

Even though our budget might not look like anyone else’s right now, the truth is that I have more than I could ever imagine materially and spiritually. Above all, I have Jesus, my ultimate joy and satisfaction in life. And He is enough.

Do you ever long for more stuff? Is there anything stealing your satisfaction in Christ?

the best kept secret

2785596455_848c54e8beIt’s been cloudy and raining here in Dallas for four days now. By now, I’ve heard plenty of comments about the weather and I too, wish the sun would come out again.

Contentment. I’m learning a lot about its meaning lately. God is doing a lot in our life as a family. We’ll be moving in less than two weeks from our 1200 sq. ft. apartment to a 780 sq. ft. apartment! We are ending our 2 year commitment as a CARES Team serving the residents in our apartment community through meals and events. We’ll be entering a new season of living on campus at Jeremiah’s seminary, Dallas Theological. It’s really going to be a good move for our family and there will be lots of young families to interact with who are all pursuing full-time ministry.

A lot of change is happening really soon and the temptation can be to worry and not be present in the moment. But I really want to be content. To not compare myself to others with what they’re doing or where they’re at, to not wish I had more money or more things, to not wonder how great it would be to be somewhere else, or to not wish John was older or I was younger.

The apostle Paul said,

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:11-13.)

Paul was no different than us. A lot of people put him on this huge pedestal, but he was simply a normal, imperfect man touched by a divine, perfect God. He allowed God to infuse his life.

So what exactly is Paul’s secret to contentment? He learned it. It didn’t happen in his sleep or in a few short days. God put circumstances in his life to teach him to trust and to depend on God. So whether he was rich or poor, well-fed or hungry, he gave glory to God because his joy and happiness didn’t depend on life’s happenings.

This gives me great hope today- that I can learn to be content too as God works in my heart.

Well on my way to work sitting at a stop sign, a car behind me laid on their horn for 10 whole seconds!  I was waiting for the right time to turn and I guess that wasn’t good enough. Maybe the rain and clouds were getting to that guy too. I couldn’t believe it.

Oh well. He probably needs to learn contentment too.

November Rain

rain.jpg

Swirls of gray and white colored the sky this weekend. Thanksgiving in Dallas was introduced this year with rain, sleet, and more rain. “Why does it have to be raining?” I asked my husband. My attitude before church wasn’t particularly a pleasant one. The weather was ruining my mood. I knew, however, that this shouldn’t be the case. Besides, it was Thanksgiving weekend- a time to give thanks.

The rain continued to patter on the church roof as I sat warm and cozy in my chair beside my husband. The message was on thankfulness. God used my pastor in a way that deeply touched the newfound bitter corners in my heart. He revealed that when we choose to have ungrateful hearts, we easily become bitter, and more vulnerable to sin which can then snowball into countless other problems. Oh but it’s no big deal to complain about this or that, is often a response I have. The truth is that I’m called to give thanks in all things even when things aren’t good or going my way. It’s my attitude and heart that matters.

To Give Thanks… To give thanks when we have to park far away from Nordstrom or Best Buy; disabled people would give anything to park far away and be able to walk. To give thanks when the alarm beeps in the morning startling us out of bed; it’s another day that we’re alive. To give thanks, frankly, when we don’t feel like it. Feelings come and go. There’s so much to be thankful for even just as Americans and we don’t even know it. 

On the way home, I didn’t even notice the windshield wipers were on. I laughed and joked with my husband. I prayed that God would give me those nudges each day to remind me of His goodness.

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