As a kid, this time of year always always brought a thrill for me, not just because of the magic of Christmas and the joy of being with family, but because of the "stuff." I'd spend quite a bit of time pouring through the big Sears wishbook and the Toys R Us ads and the American Girl catalog, making the list of stuff I wanted. A lot of times my list was inspired by things my friends already had or were asking for-- I wanted to keep up and have the same things. And there is really nothing all that wrong with this attitude. It's not like I was nasty on Christmas morning if something I requested wasn't found under the tree. I was always grateful for what I did receive. But envy continued to be a struggle for me and a lesson I'd learn over and over again. It wasn't until rather recently (within the last few years) that I've really started to understand something about envy. It's not just ugly, it can be downright soul-destroying.
I spent a lot of time (and money) in my teens and early twenties buying things and acquiring stuff because I wanted to "keep up with the Jones'." I envied the Jones'. I wanted their name brand clothes and shoes, and later their new cars and shiny appliances. Sometimes their jobs, their vacations, and well, their lives, seemed enviable.
But what I've been starting to realize is that there is another side to envy-- the cost of those things. God blesses us all differently and allows us all to be challenged by different burdens, and it's not up to me to understand or question it, though the child in me sometimes screams, "it's not fair." And it's not fair. Sometimes that new car or big house came with the price tag of many 90 hour work weeks or a spouse who is always at work. Or it came because the old car died and a new one was necessary and now vacation isn't happening. Sometimes that job came with the sacrifice of less time with family. Sometimes that vacation is a last ditch effort to save a marriage. My friend's mom put it pretty well in this post. That Queen for a Day idea has been sticking with me ever since I read it.
And yet, many more times, there are no strings attached. We simply are given things and need to openly receive them. Sometimes the money is just there to buy that new car or take that vacation. Sometimes that friend or family member just wants to take your kids for a bit to give you some alone time. Sometimes the grass is greener simply because it rained.
That other side still gets me though. In this season of Thanks and Giving I am trying to be thankful for the many blessings I get for what sometimes seems like no reason. And in the times when I find envy creeping up, trying to destroy my soul, trying to get me to cry, "not fair," I try to remember that sometimes there is a cost. That I don't necessarily know the whole story, and that if I did, maybe I wouldn't be so envious. But if I knew the difference-- knew the blessings that came with a cost and the blessings that were simply blessings-- then there wouldn't be much of a lesson to learn.
Tonight I am super thankful for so many things. Mostly though, for time with family. One Ordinary Dad and I are looking forward to a 24 hour kid-free period this weekend courtesy of my awesome in-laws. We have big plans to do a little more Christmas shopping, go out to dinner, see a movie, and enjoy a new brunch place I recently discovered with a friend.
I am thankful that last weekend, we had perfect bonfire weather.
And I'm thankful that I no longer feel the need to cry out unfairness or to keep up with them (well, most of the time; every once in awhile, that ol' struggle rears it's ugly head).
Wishing you all many blessings this season!
~One Ordinary Mom