When I’m feeling exceptionally sorry for myself (as though I have a reason to) I sometimes try to remember that all around there are people who are ‘worse off’ than me. It’s a part of the ‘attitude of gratitude’ to dutifully remember how fortunate you are…especially compared to someone else. How many times has someone comforted you with, “it could be worse”? And yes, it could be worse, much worse, and maybe that’s why reality television is such a consumer delicacy! It’s hard to gripe about your own love handles when you’re watching a show about someone who’s 600lbs and on a ventilator.
as…’ way of living isn’t new or special; we all do it, but it’s not truly effective. It’s an approach that works only for a moment. It isn’t gratitude in the purest and deepest sense. It’s a hollowed out version that you have to repeat again, and then again, and then again. Why? Because being grateful for not being like someone else does not mean you are grateful for who you actually are.
Instead of getting on that treadmill, it’s easier to say, “at least I’m not as fat as so-and-so”. Instead of dealing with the conflict in your marriage, it’s easier to say “at least I’m not divorced like so-and-so”. Instead of pursuing the career you desire, it’s easier to say “at least I’m not unemployed like so-and-so”. It’s a cheap fix. It’s looking away instead of looking at our own lives, and it’s not how children of God need to live.
While there are varying degrees of hardship and trials in life, when it comes to who we are in Christ, I can’t see where there is such a thing as ‘worse-off’ or ‘better-off’. All of us have access to God’s wisdom for circumstances that need hard work in order to change them (James 1:5). All of us have grace to endure the things that may never change (2 Corinthians 12:9). All of us are equally empowered by the Holy Spirit to rise to the challenges of our individual lives (Romans 8:11)!
Recently, I watched the story of a woman who is about my age. Her legs were surgically amputated, while she was in her teens, during a near death battle with meningitis. As I listened to her inspiring story of triumph I looked down at my two perfectly good legs. And though I was truly grateful for my legs, I knew that I was not better off than her. I could see in her face, hear in her voice, and tell by what she chose to do with her days (travel, writing, sports, motivating others) that she was living her own life to the fullest. She was not spending her days making comparisons, limiting the depth of her gratitude, and wasting her blessings. She was facing the challenges and fixing the problems to the best of her ability.
Today let’s choose to look at the lives we have with a renewed sense of gratitude, and with faith in God’s ultimate plan. Whatever we face, in Christ, we can tackle life and it’s challenges head on.