Recently I heard someone say that they like Thanksgiving much better than Christmas because at Thanksgiving the focus is on being grateful for what we have, and at Christmas the focus is on getting what we want (or maybe more accurately, on what is lacking in our lives). I hope it’s more than that, but I get what they mean. There’s a lot at Christmas that threatens our contentment by tempting us to compare and covet, not just the things others have, but their life.
It used to be at this time of year our mailbox was filled with the “Christmas Letter” from friends around the country. The Christmas letter with glowing accounts of our friends’ “best life”…the highlight reel, the “brand”…the image we want to project…
But now with Facebook and Twitter it’s possible to read a perpetual “Christmas Letter” from friends all year long. Facebook and Twitter can be awesome tools to connect us in community. But they can also be places where I covet a life that’s not mine.
Confession: For me it’s the airport life of some of my friends. Although I love them and I really am happy for them, when I read updates from creative, articulate, insightful friends who seem to always be flying somewhere to speak to thousands of people who think they’re brilliant, I can get the icky “I want that life too!” feeling in the pit of my stomach.
For you, maybe it’s the FB update from someone who’s pregnant and you’re struggling with infertility.
Or the friend who’s engaged, or has a new boyfriend, or even a first date!
Or the letter from the family with “perfect” kids when you’re desperately praying for your prodigal son.
Or the guy with the resources to take exotic vacations or easily pay for more education.
We could stop reading our mail, turn off FB and Twitter (and maybe these are good choices for you), but I think the green-eyed monster will still find us. We’re prone to want a life that’s not ours. Jacob wanted Esau’s life. Saul wanted David’s popularity. Ananias and Sapphira wanted the affirmation Barnabas got.
I love this advice I heard: “Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes life with someone else’s highlight reel.”
What if we were to ask… What don’t I see? What don’t I know? And where is God in this?
What if, as we read the Christmas letters that come, and read of the exciting or profoundly impactful things our friends are doing, we agree to say,
“This is their ‘best life’. This is NOT their whole life. They have ‘out-takes’ and regrets and longings just like me.
Lord, help me to rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, and know that only You know the whole story. May nothing rob me of the contentment You can give.”
Is this something only I and 7th grade girls struggle with or is it ever an issue for you too? What relationships or environments bring out the envy in you? What helps your perspective?