The grass is not greener on the other side.
That’s a lie.
It’s a lie the Devil and his mixed up, evil bunch of angels/minions/followers… whatever… tell us. They tell us this so we’ll constantly strive, long, hope, wish, reach, try, clamber, grasp, claw …. insert desperate verb of your choice here… for something ‘better’ than what we have.
The grass is not greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.
I should not still be awake. I should be sleeping. But I learned something today that I wish I could unlearn, and yet I think as I lay here trying to process (which is why I’m still awake), I’m finding that I’m glad I know it, because it’s teaching me a lot of things, and giving me my first opportunity to be thankful in a hard thing. I’ll share that further down.
The grass is greener where you water it. This doesn’t just apply to grass. Go figure, right? And here you thought I was laying awake at 12:30 am processing that grass is greener when you water it…. It applies to our relationships, but also to our careers. To our hobbies. To our spending habits. Relationships is the biggest one I want to drive at right now, but allow me to digress for just a moment and set up my idea with an illustration with careers.
“The grass is always greener on the other side.” So in my case, as a teacher, the grass would be greener at a different school, with different kids. Wrong. Kids will be kids. There will always be people I don’t necessarily get along with. In fact, the grass may not be greener at another school… it could be worse. I find I have to admit that most days, I have it pretty good. I haven’t had anything thrown at me in nearly 4 years, so I can count that as a plus. Though that first year sure was tough…. The point here is that the grass is greener where I water it. When I cultivate relationships with my coworkers, when I do my absolute best to reach every kid and see each kid succeed, no matter what, that’s where the grass is greener. That’s when it’s good. That doesn’t mean it’ll always be sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. I am not naive. But when I am trusting on God for the strength to do my best at what He’s given me the opportunity to do, it has to be better than when I’m relying solely on myself.
Now I’d like to talk about marriage.
Allow me to be clear. I am not married. Those of you who’ve been following this blog since I started it in November are very well aware of this fact, because I have typically not been very pleased with this single state of mine. The grass seems much greener over there in ‘married-people-land.’ So with my not being married, I understand, and want you to understand, that I am not writing this with any assumption of expertise. This is all viewed through the lens of someone completely single, who’s never been in a real relationship of any sort.
I think the evil forces at work around us are attacking our marriages with a simple phrase: the grass is greener on the other side. It’s cliche, I know, and it is likely not that cliche in our minds when we think it, but the “I’d like someone prettier” or “I wish I had someone who understands me”… whatever your excuse for not being happy in your marriage (this is a proverbial you… I am not speaking to anyone in specific here) is that ‘grass on the other side.’ I saw an illustration during Family Camp’s Chapel services where the Pastor showed 4 different places — China, India, Africa, and North America. We talked about the things that pull attention away from God and make it hard to defeat “The Beast” in each place. In China, it’s things like Communism, poverty, gender discrimination in that no one wants girls because of the one child policy, religious persecution… the list goes on. India – Hinduism, Buddhism, poverty, caste systems, major differences in class distinction. Africa – corruption, civil war, AIDS, poverty, traditional religions. The lists go on. I’m certainly not remembering everything. North America is different though. We have lots of stuff. The Devil doesn’t need to convince us that God isn’t there for us by showing us our poverty, our disease, etc. And I know, there are people in North America who suffer from these things as well, but you have to admit with me that especially in the US and Canada, we are quite well off. If you can read this, and own the computer that you’re reading it from, you’re better off than most of the world. The way we’re attacked in North America to detract our focus from God is through materialism, busyness, stress, workaholism, divorce… the lists are very different.
I’ve digressed a little bit. But so you see, what I’m seeing all around me lately is marriages that just don’t work. And that scares me. It scares me to think that this thing that I want (in God’s timing, when it’s right, so that it lasts), is statistically more likely to fail than to succeed in the place where I live. I won’t ever go hungry, I’ll be able to make my mortgage payments, I’ll be able to buy things that I want… but my marriage may not last.
Marriages crumble because people give up on them. Because we live in this disposable society where it’s almost cheaper to buy a new printer when you run out of ink. We live in this disposable society where if something is cheaper in bulk, we’ll buy it in bulk, even if it means we throw out what we don’t use. We live in this disposable society where when marriages get boring, lose their spark, get annoying, get hard…. we walk away. It’ll be better next time. This one just wasn’t right.
Good marriages are hard. They take work. And I’m SO SO thankful for the many people around me who’ve shown me fantastic examples of what good, Godly marriages should look like, so that if/when I ever get there, I have seen the benefits, but I’ve also seen that it takes work.
Good marriages require God to be at their centre. I refuse…. flat out refuse to enter into a relationship with a man whose centre is not God. I cannot fill that role for someone else. I can’t be someone’s rock, I can’t be leaned on… I’ll fall over. Ask my brother. It’s too much to ask. And by the same token, it’s too much for me to ask of someone else that he support me all the time, that he be my everything. I cannot be someone’s everything, nor can anyone but God be that for me. It’s not fair to ask it of anyone.
But like I said, I am not an expert. These are merely the observations of someone who is chronically single. But you know what? I’m presently quite content in my singleness. When I look back at what I thought I wanted, when I thought I had good examples around me to go by, I cringe. If God had allowed those relationships that I thought I wanted so badly to happen, I can’t imagine the pain I’d have suffered when they ended. I’m sure I’d have gone farther than I wanted to go in order to keep them. I know what I was like as a teenager… it wouldn’t have been good. God, in His wisdom, has kept me single to keep me sane, I think. I haven’t been ready. Where I sit now, I am very much looking forward to being in a relationship with a guy whose desire is to love me the way Christ loves the Church, and whose desire is to enter into a partnership with me, using God as our support beam. I am looking forward to what that looks like. But if that never happens, that’s OK. God is enough for me. Way more than enough.
But this feeling has prompted me to start praying for my husband in the last week or so. I’ve been praying over him, asking God to keep him safe, to keep him pure, and to keep him close until we can meet. Asking God to keep drawing him into Him, so that we’re in the same place when we do meet. And so I’m excited to meet him. Some day. When it’s right. Not before.
So I ask of any of you who are married… please put and keep God at the centre of your relationships. Don’t look elsewhere for your happiness. The grass is greener where you water it. You need to work at your relationship for it to be good. It doesn’t happen naturally because we’re all sinners and we all do and say stupid things, and we’re all different. Work at your relationships – know the person, trust the person, invest in the person. This is God’s model for marriage, and relationships in general. Whether you’re married or not. I know I can certainly find application there to my relationships with my friends, and with my coworkers, and I see it and embrace it as a good opportunity for practice.
I think that’s it. I think I’m done. Thank you for bearing with me through yet another long and rambly post.
Here are my additions to ‘the list’ since yesterday.
152. Long, deep, piping hot baths.
153. My singleness — God has kept me safe from some of the terrible decisions I could have… and likely would have made if I’d dated/been in relationships with guys before strengthening my relationship with God.
154. Seeing and finding joy in the first ‘hard thing.’
155. Stellar examples of Godly marriages in place in my life that can be mentors when that time comes.