Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I had not heard the expression before: the grass is greener syndrome. It made me think, Yes, it’s true. How often do we say, The grass is always greener on the other side. It’s where we say, I wish I was somewhere else. I’m not happy. It’s a very common way of thinking—always comparing ourselves to other people or situations, wishing things we different.
Do you feel like that sometimes? It’s a ‘if only’ complaint: If only I didn’t live here in Sydney, I’m sure I would be happier; If only I hadn’t married my partner.
In trying to define this saying, it’s the belief that something better will come along in my life. It’s ingrained in our way of thinking unfortunately. We are rarely satisfied, in a society that tells us we’re never enough, and we don’t ‘have’ enough things. We somehow think happiness is just around the corner somewhere else.
A Psychology Today article says: “Many troubles of the mind involve turning away from reality by being preoccupied with the search for another life, a different life, perhaps a better life somewhere else.”
The article suggests that by seeking solutions outside of ourselves without examining the actual lives we lead, we avoid the real work. We reduce the possibility of addressing what the problems really are so we haul our heavy baggage with us, still believing the grass is greener on the other side.
Are you devaluing what you have?
Do you still believe in the fairy-tale relationship, the perfect home, the more beautiful you, the next great thing?
What I’m trying to say is that some people live their life with ‘the grass is always greener syndrome’—which is where they perceive that what they have is never enough, when they are never content, and when they are always looking for more. But there is a time when we need to stop looking at the ‘don’t have’ and start looking at what we really do have.
It really is that simple. The ‘grass is always greener’ causes you to distort and devalue what you already have and to overvalue what you don’t have, it makes you take the things that are really important for granted. This means we need to change our perspective because the grass may not really be greener on the other side of the fence; it just may just look that way from your side of the fence.
I think that our society tells us that life is all about us. It’s all about my happiness, it’s all about my fulfilment, my safety, my security, my comfort. It’s all about optimising everything in our life to work out to fit our ideas, our expectations, our wants and our perceived needs.
Why waste time doing things the hard way when there is an easier way just on the other side of the fence?
Why deal with difficult situations, difficult people, and difficult circumstances when there is an easy escape to greener grass?
The bigger questions
But here is a different thought and some questions I want to ask you:
- What if God has placed you where you are precisely because the grass is greener somewhere else?
- What if spending a season or a lifetime on a patch of brown grass is his purpose for you?
- What if living life on the other side of the fence is God’s way of shaping you and making you into what he wants you to be?
- What if God’s purpose for you is to spend your life making the grass greener where you are instead of taking your gifts and resources to where the grass is already cared for and well maintained?
- What if dying to yourself means that you are supposed to spend yourself on behalf of the grass that isn’t quite as green?
It’s about not thinking of yourself, but putting God first in your life, and letting him guide you. These are the bigger questions:
- What if we devoted our gifts to repairing broken things instead of having a laser-like focus on our happiness, comfort, and fulfilment?
- What if we focused on pouring out for others what God has blessed us with instead of running around searching for that perfect patch of green?
The American author Richelle E. Goodrich says:
“Even if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, keep to your own side; it’s where you belong. Plant your own grass and tend to it.”
Examine God’s blessing on your life today and learn to appreciate it. Learn to want what you have. Thank God for what you have. Don’t keep wanting what’s over the fence. It may be wrong, and not really suitable for you. Learn to be content with what God has given you.
How much better to say with the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:11-13: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty…I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength”. He was talking about Jesus Christ, his lord and Saviour. We can know that too.