Twenty-something-women of today grew up being told we could do anything, be anything. Have the cake and eat it too; live our Cinderella story and change the world; stand on the public stage and cuddle our one year old before nap time.
And then we grew up. We found out that Cinderella stories don’t happen outside of story books, one-year-olds would prefer to throw Cheerios than sweetly drift to sleep, and the public stage is high and crowded.
[Let me stop for a second, this post is a little different. A special welcome to my co-author and dear friend Lizzie Lindberg. This post is a snapshot summary of ongoing conversations we have about whether the grass is ever greener.]
From the outside our lives are exact opposites.
I, Sian, am a single girl living in the Twin Cities, devoting the lion’s share of my time to building a career in digital media ministry.
I, Lizzie, am a work-at-home mom of 1 (almost 2!) sweet boys, a freelance graphic designer and a youth pastor’s wife residing in a small town in Wisconsin.
But when the top layer of simple-tangible descriptions of our circumstances is scraped away – our lives are so similar. We both struggle with what-ifs, disappointments and tears. Both of us have “ah-ha!” moments, uplifting conversations and sweet people with whom we love and laugh.
Yet, we tend to glamorize the lives of our friends.
It is easy to see the good, shiny parts of others’ lives. So often we each wonder if we are the only one with fears, struggles and everything-goes-wrong days. We start thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else.
We scroll through our Facebook feeds or watch tweets pop up on our phones and think others’ lives are more exciting, more fulfilling or just plain better because of their pictures, status updates or mini-bios.
It is easy to think that I, Sian, as a single girl am the only one with fears, the only one to ask “what if.” In those moments where I’m worried about deadlines, and tired of coming home to an empty apartment … I often wonder “Is her grass greener?”
And in the moments when I, Lizzie, am feeling stuck with poopy diapers and messes that I can’t reach over my pregnant belly or struggling to keep my son from ripping books and closing my computer… I often wonder, “Is her grass greener?”
And then we remind each other that we both have struggles and “what ifs” and dysfunction in our lives. There are benefits and drawbacks to being single as well as being married or having children. There are highs and lows of each stage and age, because there are benefits and drawbacks to life. Life carries “what ifs,” bad days, hard truth and sweet epiphanies, sunshine and tragedy… regardless of circumstance, status or season.
The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, it is green where it gets watered.
The more we realize that our identities are not in the circumstances of life, but in our status as children of God, the more often it is watered.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2
So often we see the negatives of our lives, we want to rant about the things that don’t go our way, leave us uncomfortable, and just plain irritate us. With friends on the other side of the fence, we have a gift of seeing both the weeds and the flowers, the good and bad, the empathy and encouragement. Neither of us have arrived, and neither of us have the perfect life. The end goal isn’t marriage or kids or career or whatever stage of life you are wishing for. We all live among the weeds and the flowers.
When something wonderful happens, the celebrations for the little and big things; the ‘dancing on the table’ moments, we can encourage each other without attitudes of discontent for our own situations. That is only possible when we stop comparing our circumstances.
Through all times, we need to remind ourselves and others to focus on truth, to keep going, to trust God’s plan and to lean on Him, to find joy in the celebrations as well as the painful times. We need to remember that whatever we do, or whatever our circumstances look like, we are called to proceed with thankfulness to the Lord.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
When we help each other focus on Him in thankfulness, we cry and laugh and dance and dream together and then grass on both sides of the fence gets greener.
The thing is… Life is a gift. The life you have, the life you’re living is a gift. Whatever it looks like right now is exactly what it is meant to look like. God has put each of us in our season and position for a reason, for a purpose.
If you are going through a hard or waiting time, it is not an accident. He is preparing and refining you for something so much more than you could anticipate. We can complain and criticize, we can waste time wishing for our neighbors’ green grass. Or we can lean into the now, the gifts of your season, whether that’s baby kisses and Cheerios, or emails and another latte, by leaning into Him who gives every good and perfect gift.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” James 1:7.