“The grass is always greener on the other side.”
You’ve probably heard that statement in your life. You might have even used it from time to time. It’s our way of saying that the possessions and the situations of others can look better than our own — even if they really aren’t.
In the Book of James, the writer reminds us of holding onto faith in the face of trial, persecution and failure. And then, James turns to the images of those who are poor and those who are wealthy.
Maybe what James is really pointing out is that we do fall into the “grass is greener” comparison trap when we’re going through the tough times of life.
In fact, here’s what James has to say about it:
9 Brothers and sisters who are poor should find satisfaction in their high status. 10 Those who are wealthy should find satisfaction in their low status, because they will die off like wildflowers. 11 The sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass so that its flowers fall and its beauty is lost. Just like that, in the midst of their daily lives, the wealthy will waste away. 12 Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward. — James 1:9-12 (CEB)
Avoiding the comparison trap
Call it the comparision trap. It’s easy to look at someone else’s life from the outside, or from a distance, and think that their situation is so much better than what we’re facing.
Basically, as others have said, we start to compare our behind the scenes work and issues with everyone else’s highlight reel.
And on the other side of the coin, it’s also easy to fall into the comparison trap on mistakes, sin, etc. We look at the other person and think, “I might be doing this, but at least I’m not like that person over there.”
Yet, at the end of the day, those comparisons fade. Why? Because we all experience trials and tough times. We all have moments where we feel like we are in the pit. We all feel like there is no way up, no way out, no way to get through.
When you’re living through those moments, all of the things that we use to separate ourselves from one another just don’t seem to matter. Maybe you remember a song from the group, REM, called “Everybody Hurts.” It was a reminder that everyone, all of us, will have times of struggle and pain.
So, what do we do in those situations?
James advice to all of us who go through trials is simple: Hold onto God. You might feel as if you are walking through a fire, through a storm, through a hurricane, but God walks through it with you and will be there on the other side of it all.
And when we make it through, when we hold on to God, then we start to see the depths of God’s love for us.
When the darkness is overwhelming
But not every one can or will hold onto God in all of those situations. Sometimes, the darkness seems to be overwhelming. Sometimes, we lose sight of God, of who we are and of the others who care about us in life.
In those moments, our comparisons can point us to feel as if we don’t measure up, as if we are not worth it, or, maybe, that we never will.
What do we do then? We take the opportunity to accept the reset that comes with God’s grace. We find others to share in the journey with us. And we prepare — read Scripture, worship and pray — for how we will hold onto God and experience God’s presence when we are faced with the next trial of life.
Reignitemystory.com is based on the idea that our life stories are reignited when we reset them, renew them and redeem them. To contact the writer, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter at @reignitemystory