(Editor’s Note: This was written in December, and published in January, hence the Christmas notes. However, it is an important message for any time of year.)
My sister just texted me from the airplane. She and her husband are on their way to Germany to tour the Christmas markets – for the fifth time. Bring me a lebkuchen, I think as I close my phone and open the mailbox. The first Christmas card of the season has arrived. I haven’t even made one yet and was thinking I might skip it this year altogether. Opening her lovely card, I read that my friend has moved to a new home and lost 35 pounds in the last year. I am happy for her. Really, I am.
Pouring a cup of coffee, I sit down at the computer and click around to my favorite blogs. A gorgeous kitchen remodel appears. On another, a family is pictured gathered around the candlelit kitchen table doing their evening Bible reading, led by the father. On to another and I see that I have forgotten to begin the Immaculate Conception Novena as well as the St. Andrew Christmas novena. Honestly, I had never even heard of the St. Andrew novena before. Even after 13 years as a Catholic, I think to myself, I have so much to learn.
A slow gloom settles over me as I lean back in my chair to think. The past few minutes have been full of wonderful news and ideas from others, and yet my internal conversation has been one of comparing my life, my home, my faith to those for whom I am truly happy. Such a first-world problem it is to overlook the fact that I even have a home, a computer, a sister, a mailbox, a cell phone and the freedom to practice my faith as I wish. How selfish have I become that all this is still not enough to fill me with deepest contentment?
There is only one family worthy of my comparisons – the Holy family. They are the only Joneses after whom I need to model myself. The mother, a young woman ostracized for her unexpected pregnancy, riding a donkey and giving birth in a barn? Not exactly “pinnable” material there. What would our Holy Mother Mary have mentioned in her Christmas card? ”On another note, my son, Jesus, actually turned water into wine this year.” I doubt it.
Still, in some ways, comparing helps us grow, change and become the people God means us to be. We are meant to live the lives God has given us. No more, no less. And to live them with contentment, even enjoyment. Who would have thought this would be the greatest challenge of our time ~ to learn be pleased with our lives as they are right now? But comparing material goods does kill contentment. My home will never look like the cover of House Beautiful, my body will never be worthy of a Victoria’s Secret ad. By the grace of God, most days I don’t even care. But when I sense that I do, I realize I must pull the electronic plug and turn my attention to the true source of my contentment – the word of God.
Hebrews 13:5 ESV
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ”I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Luke 12:15 ESV
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
1 Corinthians 7:17 ESV
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.
Comparison kills contentment. In 2012, may I strive to be content with what I have and to kill all unhealthy comparisons when they surface. Only those comparisons which bring me closer to Christ, make me more like Mary and lead me into deeper holiness will bring me true contentment.
Misty, mother of three boys, wife of 15 years, and ever-learning Catholic, blogs at mistysmornings.blogspot.com .