Keeping up with the Joneses (and the Smiths, and the Jacksons, and the Neufelds…)

“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭

Green.

As in, the colour of that neighbour’s grass.

Also the colour of your complexion as you eye said grass.

Or fence. Or landscaping. Or driveway. Then there’s the new stucco. Brick details. That big IKEA delivery on the attractive front porch.

Green.

And looking greener by the minute as you survey your own uneven sidewalk and curse the broken and creaking front step and remember the leaky faucet that awaits you as soon as you enter your own house.

Serious envy issues.

What is there about watching HGTV that makes us want an immediate kitchen upgrade? What is there about a neighbour’s new bathroom or backyard pool that causes us to check our bank balance and weight the pros and cons of calling a plumber?

The problem with trying to keep up with the Joneses (and the Smiths and the Jacksons and the Neufelds) is that we can never keep up. It is exactly as the writer of Ecclesiastes put it so many centuries ago – like chasing the wind.

No one, not even the most fleet of foot, can ever expect to play tag with the wind and win. It’s an exercise in utter futility.

There will always, always be someone in your neighbourhood who has more – more cars, more bricks, more square footage, more and better furniture. You won’t be able to play that game and win.

You’ll be chasing the wind.

So. What’s the antidote to envy?

Gratitude.

Gratitude!!

Think about it. If for every minute you spent wishing you had what someone else had, you spent three being grateful for what is actually under your nose, that green goddess would slither right out of your head and heart, and you’d have a spring in your step.

Each of us have been given some property to take care of. Some are bigger lots than others. Some have better views. Some are sitting on rich mineral deposits – others have no clean water or access roads.

But each of us has been given something that can be valuable, welcoming, and beautiful – if we would just get our eyes and minds off the all too tempting opportunity to judge what we’ve been given.

Our motivation for developing our lot, building a home, cleaning up the backyard, creating a wondrous garden, should never be to outdo a neighbour.

It should only, always, be about pointing to the Realtor.

Look at the heroes of the faith in our Bible. Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel. All had rough patches, rocks and craters and sinkholes and serious drainage issues, to keep this in property terms. And yet, with God’s help and blessing, they went on to produce oases in the desert, gardens in the wilderness, homes in foreign lands, and plots of land that have sustained millennia of fellow sojourners in their own faith.

If your eyes are on your neighbour’s blessings, you will miss your own. If your heart is judging the Realtor’s choices, you will miss out on opportunities to be your own unique self, and develop what you’ve been given in the way you were designed to develop it.

God doesn’t want cookie cutter houses.

He wants character homes. Places where creative and unique features add glory and dignity and beauty to the space He provided you with.

Quit chasing the wind.

Start exploring what you’ve been uniquely and beautifully gifted with. Make friends with the quirks. Accept the things that can’t be changed, and partner with God to change the things that can – in a way that honours who you were destined to be.

Learn to love your own life with me?

Father, as our Realtor, You invite us to enter with joy into our own property. You call us to beautify and improve it – not to copy our neighbours, but to be good stewards of what we have been given. Help us to stop judging what You’ve chosen time give others in comparison, and to embrace our own good game unique place in the world. Amen.

Published by melodylowes

I am actually a bit of a mess. But in the mess, I’m finding security in knowing I am chosen, I am forgiven, and I matter. After uncovering a history of abuse in my past, I have done a lot of healing - and writing is one way I can invite you deeper into your own healing journey! I write devotionals about the complicated thing called life at growing-in-grace.ca, and my poetry is stashed at melodylowes.com. Pull up a chair and a coffee or tea and let's grow together!

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