In John Ortberg’s book, Love Beyond Reason, there is an entire chapter devoted to the danger of envy. He likens it to a cancer. Envy starts when we begin comparing ourselves to someone else. We feel discontented or resentful because someone else has ‘more’ than we do.
I’ve known this cancer. Well. In school. At work. With friends and colleagues. With family. And, of course, with strangers.
Comparison and envy have worsened with the advent of social media. We have access to sooooooo many more people and sooooooo much more of a person’s life…..and almost always, that means just the good parts of a person’s life. We see a profile or picture on Facebook or Instagram and think that a person ‘has it all’. We then compare our lives to that person and begin to envy their situation. We become discontent with our own lives.
But what’s on social media is not the full story of a person’s life. There’s a lot more than a filtered photo and carefully-crafted caption.
Every photo that I post on social media comes with many more moments in the background that I don’t post…..that aren’t as glamorous….or really, are just down right crappy.
I recently traveled to Egypt with my family. Our photos on Facebook showed us all laughing and smiling and having a great time. And, we did. But, what none of us posted about was how during that trip, I sounded like my lungs were about to rip out of my chest. That entire trip, I was terrified that I had picked up TB (again) when I had been in India a couple of weeks prior. [It ended up being bronchitis that I pretty much still have…..but at least it wasn’t TB.] Yes, it was a great trip. But it wasn’t without discomfort. At times, it was down right painful. There was a thorn in my side, just as Paul experienced during his ministry. I had to make a choice about how I would view this crappy, lung-ripping situation. And, my choice was to be thankful for the illness. I thought about it from God’s perspective. The lung-ripping made me slow down and go at a pace that was more in step with the pace of my parents [sloooweeeerrrrrrrrrr]. I wasn’t as rushed to do things as I might have typically been….. that helped keep the peace among all of us traveling.
Perspective. It’s super important. It’s up to us to turn envy into gratefulness…..to be grateful in every situation. Sometimes it takes me longer than it should to get that perspective….but eventually I get there…..well, most of the time.
This perspective is also important when we think about how God made each of us differently and how the Holy Spirit anoints us all with different gifts. The photo at the top of this post….with all of the differently colored mannequins….makes this really come alive for me. God created us all differently….in how we look…in how we act…in how we sound….in what we can do….in the talents we have…. We are called to be content with what we have been gifted and celebrate the gifts of others. [Imagine if the mannequins in this photo were all the same color……BORING!]
My friend Lauren has an UBER dose of the gift of hospitality. She can throw a party like no-one else. I get a little green-eyed when I go to her house and walk into a party wonder-space. A few weeks ago she hosted a Derby de Mayo party that stole the Pinterest-show. Seriously. [See photos below…..she even had a photo booth!] Lauren needs to go into the business of party planning because no detail was left out. She has a heart of gold and it came through in the smallest of details…such as a kid station that had horse-shaped lollipops and stickers. I mean, come on! Why hadn’t I ever thought of something like that?!
And, Lauren and her husband Bronson are the perfect party-hosting team. The Lord has equipped them independently and complementary. During the party, when Lauren was doing something or talking to one group, Bronson was across the party attending to a separate detail….they would pass each other like they were dancing. I’m sure it wasn’t as seamless as they made it seem, but it looked effortless.
God gave Lauren an uber gift of hospitality (along with many other gifts). He gave me a different set of gifts. And He gave you an ever different set of gifts.
We are all unique. Because God made us that way on purpose. He does not want us to compare ourselves to others. Period. Over and over again the Bible calls us to seek the approval of God and not the approval of man, to not be worldly, and to consider others more significant than ourselves.
Be content. Celebrate others. And, re-frame your perspective to God’s perspective. See what He sees in you and in your situation!
You were made by the maker of the universe. He knew what He was doing when He made you and He made me. Let’s use our gifts together to glorify Him. Let’s be a room filled with brightly-colored mannequins!