Sustainable Joy

There is a lot of truth to the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy”. However, I think if we expand on this we could all agree that comparison isn’t only the thief of joy, but it also reveals the current source of our joy. 

Hear me out.

Comparison comes in a lot of forms. We compare ourselves, our loved ones, and our circumstances not only to those around us but we also have certain unspoken  “measuring sticks” that we’re constantly assessing within our own hearts. Some comparisons can be beneficial. If they’re accompanied by a propulsion to grow and develop our God given gifts, abilities, and talents. Yet, in the most unhealthy form, comparison is a deceptive perception that pulls us into a position where our blessings end up on our blind side.

I was recently working in my yard and I was reminded of the saying “the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where it’s watered”. The heart of the statement “the grass is greener on the other side” is comparison. It’s taking what we have, that is literally right in front of us and telling ourselves that this provision, this blessing, is actually sub-par. It’s just not enough. It’s not going to fill our desires, it is not valuable, there is limited worth in it, and it is not bringing us joy

Why?

Our hearts catch glimpses of something more desirable and attractive and winds up craving the result without doing the work. The fantasized, imaginary “result” then becomes the source of our joy. This can happen incredibly quickly, yet sometimes very stealthily that we hardly notice until we feel the sudden jerk of our Anchor holding us from going even farther. The serpent only had to whisper a quick question in the ear of Eve for her attention to be diverted from all that was hers to the one thing that shouldn’t be. 

Here’s where the rubber meets the road… During this time on earth, we will certainly be met with many temptations for our eyes to keep attention on the “amazing lawn down the street” that may always seem better than our own. We can either continue to gaze and covet what isn’t meant to be ours but that will inevitably result in distance, division, and destruction. The alternative is that we turn back, and put the effort into nurturing the blessings before us. 

Back to watering my yard. It’s amazing how acquainted I am getting with its details, terrain, and gradient. I’ve seen where the water pools, the divots from harsh weather, the areas that need extra. So what if we look at the relationships, provision, and circumstances around us like our lawn? We will undoubtedly begin to see the entire gradient of them. At their best, as the one patch of grass that always seems to outpace the rest. We may see them at their worst, and might offer some extra care and nourishment. We’ll also see so many weeds or annoyances that may hopefully just eventually blend into the surrounding greenery and become unnoticeable. Although heck, even kids think Dandelions are beautiful right? 

“Watering” is an intentional, deliberate, and care-ful act and provides us with the opportunity to remember the sustaining joy through faith in Jesus and His work on the cross. I’m not in control of where the water flows after it hits the ground, but I am responsible for what direction it’s pointing. I have faith that if I’m doing my job, God will come through on His.

God chooses to provide for us but our responsibilities are: 

1. Continually turn away from temptation otherwise we won’t be able to see what we’re meant to be watering in the first place!  

2. Gratefully steward/care for it well. Be willing to put in the time, patience, and effort, or sacrifice self desires and “work out the kinks”. 

3. Use it for His glory. Let the color of your lawn speak for itself! Humbly tell people your testimony of how God came and gave you the strength, courage, and endurance to persevere through times of trial and temptation.

For me, as a practical reminder this summer, my goal is to manually water my lawn at least once a week because if I’m taking the time to care for my own then I don’t have time to care about the color of the grass down the street.

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