I recently co-facilitated a Parent Wellness Circle and after a few meetings one of the parents reported that she was describing our weekly gatherings to others as her "anti-Facebook group." She went on to explain that she was not so much against Facebook, but that she sometimes found herself stressed by what her friends, especially other parents, were always posting on social media. We all agreed that the tendency on Facebook, as with our public lives in general, is to share only the happy and positive moments. Sometimes she found herself wishing her life as a parent could be as seemingly easy as what she was seeing others share online. She was grateful to have the opportunity to gather with other parents in our wellness circle, a safe place where we all were willing to share just how imperfect our lives really were. When I was growing up if my parents ever heard me saying that I envied someone else's life, I was offered the well known refrain, "Remember, the grass is greener on the other side of the fence." I'm guessing you may have heard, too. I'm also sure I responded with the same eye roll that my kids gave me when I shared this advice with them. It wasn't until I was a young adult that I actually understood what that advice meant. Even then it didn't stop me from wishing some part of my life could be like someone else's. Heck, I find myself still doing that on occasion even today.
A few years ago I heard a new version of the "grass is greener" advice that I have found to be additionally helpful, "The grass is greener where we water it." The first time I heard that statement it brought me up short. It is such a masterful way of inviting us to redirect the wasteful energy of envy, to instead figuring out what we can do to water growth in our own lives.
Just the other day, for example, I heard someone share how disciplined they are about not working at home in the evening-not even checking their work email. I immediately found myself envious, wishing my life could be like that. Hmm...perhaps instead a more productive use of my energy would be taking some small steps, watering some small changes in my daily habits, with the intent of creating a better work/life balance.
Of course not all things we envy in others are realistically within reach or possible for us. Life isn't always fair and we all face certain hard realities that can't be changed, some more than others unfortunately. And no simple piece of wisdom applies all the time. I find that the wisdom of the "The grass is greener where you water it," to be quite applicable (but again not always so) in regard to relational and spiritual wellness. If we water our relationships they have a better chance of flourishing. If we dedicate time and energy to our spiritual lives they will also grow. In fact, in most areas of our lives, what we water grows.
Or is there some area of your life that is in need of tending?