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The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

We’ve all had periods of unhappiness and stress in our lives. The real problems come, though, when those periods begin to occur more and more often.

Sometimes, the root cause is an issue of contentment. Here’s what that might look like:

Maybe, back in high school, you said, “I’ll be happy when I finally graduate.” Then, when graduation day finally comes and goes, you say, “I’ll be happy when I get out of college.” After that, you’re out of college but you’re back in the parent’s house and you just know you’ll be happy when you finally get your own place.

You get a job and get your own place—but you’re not making much. That’s when you just know you’ll be happy once you make a little more money. Then you get a raise, and everything seems to be going well, until you realize that you’re lonely—and if that perfect guy or special lady would come along, you’d finally be happy.

Ever felt like that? We’ve all been there. But for some people, the grass is always greener on the other side.

At its root, this is a contentment problem. When you’re not content, you spend your whole life jumping from one thing to another, always hoping the next thing will be the one big thing that makes you happy. And, if that’s your approach, it will never happen.

You might know that—after all, you have years of experience and wisdom behind you. But what about your son or daughter? Are they headed down the path to discontentment?

If so, how do you deal with that?

The answer is to help your teenager understand how to define themselves by who they are, not what they have or what they are doing at the moment. It’s easy to think, Oh, they’ll get over wanting a lot of stuff when they get older. But they won’t.

This desire will only grow stronger as they get older because they’ll have more money and more opportunities to make bad decisions. The type of stuff they want will change, but the desire will still be there.

You see it all the time at the stoplight. That guy might be in debt up to his eyeballs and not sure how he’s going to make the next mortgage payment, but at least he’s driving a Lexus! [insert sarcasm]

We get it twisted, don’t we? The world might try and define us by what we own, but the Bible doesn’t. The Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So the question is, where is your treasure? For your teenager, how much time do they spend pursuing stuff and the next big thing?

The truth is that contentment gets a bad rap in our world today. A lot of people think of it as laziness or apathy. But that’s not contentment.

Our world is addicted to a “Bigger is better” and “What’s next?” mentality. So the idea of just slowing down and enjoying what you have right in front of you before moving on to the next thing is foreign to some people.

As a parent, you have the opportunity to speak into your teenager’s life and help them see who they are in God, not who they are as defined by the purse they own or the jeans they wear or the car they drive.

The Bible says God knew us before He even formed us in the womb and that He knows the number of hairs on our head. That’s deep!

He doesn’t love us because of our Tory Burch shoes or our Louis Vuitton purse. He loves us because He created us. We were the first of His creations that He called “very good”!

So help your teen understand that God doesn’t care what’s cool today or tomorrow. He’s looking at their whole life—the past, the present, the future—and He longs for them to make the most of the life He has given them!

Contentment is a powerful thing. When you truly realize who you are in Christ, you can own stuff without being weighed down by it—and you can finally climb off the “I’ll be happy when …” treadmill.

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  • Katie

    Not only did I need to hear this for my daughter’s sake, but for mine, as well. Well said!

  • Karin T. O’Brien

    A great message for today – and for always! Thank you, Rachel!

  • I needed to hear this. I have a steady full-time job and a fun side job, I’m getting out of debt (been through FPU), I’m a college graduate, I’m engaged to an amazing girl who’s doing the baby steps with me, BUT I’m still living with my parents, and even though I know I’m getting married and moving in with my wife in 4 months, I still get depressed, and think “When I move out and get married, I’ll finally be happy.” Been so tired of feeling this way, and it helps to hear this message of being content no matter the circumstances. Someone always has it worse off than you!

  • Sharon

    Perfect for ME today! I was melancholy all weekend, thinking that I wasn’t DOING enough to make it an exciting holiday weekend. What a loser, I thought. While I was sitting there with my husband, truly enjoying his company, at peace together – but not at peace inside, because it didn’t seem like ENOUGH. *I* didn’t seem like enough. Well, I’m convicted now! Thanks!! God made me ENOUGH. I can and will rest in that.

  • Rachel – How would you combine this with being an entrepreneur? Meaning understanding contentment but pressing on toward the higher calling?

    • Matt, I am right there with you! Something that some self-reflection and prayer has helped me to realize is that not only do we have to find contentment BEFORE we find success, but that by finding contentment, we can actually become more successful. When I started my business, it was after years of back-to-back disappointments. Happiness was always just right over the horizon. I declared from day one of my business that I was going to LOVE what I was doing, and that by finding happiness and contentment, the path would unfold below my feet and I would find success. My business is still young, but I have never been more blessed. I am happy, and am doing better financially than I’ve ever done before. I think this really connects with the concept of the open fist that you learn about money in FPU. Instead of having an open fist, however, you have to have an open heart to receive God’s joy and peace. Then, you will be better able to see the opportunities in front of you and achieve that higher calling.nnThere’s a great TED talk by Shawn Achor about this very thing. You should check it out! http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work

    • Christine Royer

      Pressing on toward the higher calling does not mean you are not content now. If your higher calling is where you believe happiness is then you are getting it wrong. Happiness should be NOW. Goals are later

      • Absolutely Christine. Happiness is now, but I think a lot of people get trapped in contentment and they quit dreaming. Goals should always be now and happiness within that process.

    • Dave

      Achievement is a different matter all together. We can still set goals for ourselves and be satisfied with what we have.

      • Really interesting and good points to ponder. I think satisfaction and contentment are two different things. I believe contentment is fueled by gratitude and perspective whereas satisfaction is fueled by performance and results. Being dissatisfied isn’t a bad think as long as we’re content within that dissatisfaction. nnMy friend and philosopher Tom Morris has written about this http://www.tomvmorris.com – intriguing conversation.

    • Renee

      Contentment NOT complacency. I think that’s key.

  • I think that most people struggle with this from time to time. I know I have. I used to shop to much and dream about the future. What changed my perspective is becoming a mother. Just holding my baby in my arms IS happiness. I realize the blessing of each new day and don’t want to take it for granted!

  • Kendar

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s a great thing to teach at a young age, but I need to show an example of it myself and that is for sure something I need to work on right now in my life!

    • Kendra

      And then I will teach it to my own children by example!!

  • Greta J Tabbert Cooper

    Very nice statements.

  • Bill Romance

    Fantastic article Rachel … the example that I thought of was the Apostle Paul, who says in Philippians 4:13 that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him …. Look at verse 11 and following and you’ll see that he prefaces that statement by saying that he has learned, in whatsoever state he’s in, therewith to be content.

  • justin h.

    love this!!! I have been told my whole life, the key to happiness is contentment! you shed light on what that means! thank you

  • What an important post. Thank you so much! We live in a world that says you constantly need to strive for More, More More. Contentment is key. Be happy with the people the Lord has placed in your life rather than things. God always provides and we cannot take any of this stuff with us.

  • pamplemousse658

    it makes a lot of sense to me without the Crist Shit nor the God shit. Look at if from my point of view: if it is true, it does not matter WHO said it, that is paraphenelia. Wen do not need myths to understand that we better be happy here and now.

    • Ryan

      Agreed! The message is strong on its own. No need to associate it with fictional writings.

    • Gods child

      You could agree/disagree without the profanity and negativity

    • Linda

      I agree!! Please don’t refer to my Lord & Savior as shit. That is very irreverent and it hurts my heart. If you don’t have something good to say, then don’t comment!! This was wonderful message for a materialistic society.

  • Time2Refuel

    Thank you so much for this post. I felt it such a blessing I hope you don’t mind that I posted it on my blog @ time2refuel.wordpress.com I feel that this is a topic that needs to be repeated over and over until it becomes the norm. Thanks again!

  • BK

    What a great article. Thank you for posting this.nnI have learned a wonderful saying that builds off this saying…nnIf the grass appears greener on the other side, consider fertilizing and watering you grass first.

  • smg45acp

    The Bible says that with godliness comes great gain, because with godliness comes contentment.nIf you are content, are you not richer that the man with ten times as much money, but is discontent?

  • This all starts very young, beginning with how we approach Christmas, birthdays, treats… 🙂

  • Melody

    So true! It is hard to be an entrepreneur and type A and driven to accomplish yet remember where true contentment comes from! nIt’s only in Christ that I find true fulfillment. It’s when I don’t spend time with Him that I come unglued and crave what I don’t have. I constantly fight to stay in balance when my natural tendency is “do, do, do,” and “more, more, more!” Great article!

  • Alexandria Fields

    I love this. I truly have a hard time being content. I was told to be content in my first marriage but he was physically abusive. I was told to be content in my second marriage but he drank and screamed at my children and I. I had to leave on both accounts. Now I have extreme problems with being content in life and in a relationship. I could be happy as ever for a few months but I see them do one thing that reminds me of the past and I’m discontent. I want to leave right away. Any advice? Also I’m never content with me . Im always to fat. I don’t have things clean enough. Im a mess I suppose.

    • Guest

      I highly doubt being content means being content with an abusive marriage. The most important thing in a relationship is to find someone that cares about you and is willing to do anything for you. As a result, you should be content with his background, economic and social status, be content with his skin color or ethnicity (if it happens to be diff than yours), his money, his height, etc which are all superficial desires as long as he cares about you.

  • Lee White

    Thank goodness I discovered this in my late 40s.I had a life or death situation happen to me and it changed my whole life.I became more humble,more understanding of my fellow man.It was a uplifting experience that I will always cherish. Don”t wait, grab that chance to be happy. Don”t let anything get in your way

  • Koblos Arpad Gavrila

    Everything Elsen nn n nn 463n n n n n n n n nn n nnThe Grass Isnu2019t Always Greenern nnwhere is your treasure? nnWeu2019ven all had periods of unhappiness and stress in our lives. The real nproblems come, though, when those periods begin to occur more and more noften.nnSometimes, the root cause is an issue of contentment. Hereu2019s what that might look like:nnMaybe, back in high school, you said, u201cIu2019ll be happy when I finally ngraduate.u201d Then, when graduation day finally comes and goes, you say, nu201cIu2019ll be happy when I get out of college.u201d After that, youu2019re out of ncollege but youu2019re back in the parentu2019s house and you just know youu2019ll nbe happy when you finally get your own place.nnYou get a job and get your own placeu2014but youu2019re not making much. nThatu2019s when you just know youu2019ll be happy once you make a little more nmoney. Then you get a raise, and everything seems to be going well, nuntil you realize that youu2019re lonelyu2014and if that perfect guy or special nlady would come along, youu2019d finally be happy.nnEver felt like that? Weu2019ve all been there. But for some people, the grass is always greener on the other side.nnAt its root, this is a contentment problem. When youu2019re not content, you spend your whole life jumping from one thing to another, always hoping the next thing will be the one big thing that makes you happy. And, if thatu2019s your approach, it will never happen.nnYou might know thatu2014after all, you have years of experience and wisdom behind you. But what about your son or daughter? Are they headed down the path to discontentment? nnIf so, how do you deal with that?nnThe answer is to help your teenager understand how to define themselves by who they are, not what they have or what they are doing at the moment. Itu2019s easy to think, Oh, theyu2019ll get over wanting a lot of stuff when they get older. But they wonu2019t.nnThis desire will only grow stronger as they get older because theyu2019lln have more money and more opportunities to make bad decisions. The type nof stuff they want will change, but the desire will still be there. nnYou see it all the time at the stoplight. That guy might be in debt nup to his eyeballs and not sure how heu2019s going to make the next mortgagen payment, but at least heu2019s driving a Lexus! [insert sarcasm]nnWe get it twisted, donu2019t we? The world might try and define us by what we own, but the Bible doesnu2019t. The Bible says, u201cFor where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.u201dnnSo the question is, where is your treasure? For your teenager, how much time do they spend pursuing stuff and the next big thing?nnThe truth is that contentment gets a bad rap in our world today. A nlot of people think of it as laziness or apathy. But thatu2019s not ncontentment.nnOur world is addicted to a u201cBigger is betteru201d and u201cWhatu2019s next?u201d nmentality. So the idea of just slowing down and enjoying what you have nright in front of you before moving on to the next thing is foreign to nsome people.nnAs a parent, you have the opportunity to speak into your teenageru2019s nlife and help them see who they are in God, not who they are as defined nby the purse they own or the jeans they wear or the car they drive.nnThe Bible says God knew us before He even formed us in the womb and that He knows the number of hairs on our head. Thatu2019s deep!nnHe doesnu2019t love us because of our Tory Burch shoes or our Louis Vuitton purse. He loves us because He created us. We were the first of His creations that He called u201cvery goodu201d!nnSo help your teen understand that God doesnu2019t care whatu2019s cool today nor tomorrow. Heu2019s looking at their whole lifeu2014the past, the present, then futureu2014and He longs for them to make the most of the life He has given nthem!nCo

  • Mindy

    Excellent article, excellent thought path, excellent reasoning, PERFECT Scripture! Thank you, Rachel, for putting this essential life lesson into easy words for today. Share, share, share 🙂

  • Judy Larson

    Appreciate your wise words.

  • Angela

    I love this. Thank you for taking the time to write this artIcle. This is a conversation worth having in every household.

  • Bryce

    Great article! I REALLY needed to hear this right now. I’ve been struggling a lot with running that treadmill in my life the past couple of weeks and this was just what I needed to hear to remind me that I can rest in contentment with what God has given me. Thank you Rachel!

  • Carol Lynn Cross

    Amen

  • Chasity

    I wish everyone could understand this early in life. I’m grateful God opened my eyes to what is important at a young age. In most cases the people we envy and strive to be like aren’t as happy as you would think. They are just further along in the game than we are. It makes me happy to know that there is a roof over our heads and food on the table and we are blessed with being debt free including 2 homes. My husband and I will be 30 this year and are already putting more towards our retirement and savings. I found contentment even in the midst of a huge financial struggle when I started a gratitude journal. It always made me feel good to write down good things at the end of the day and I even found myself actively looking for positive things all through the day that I could write down later. Give it a shot. It works.

  • I would love to sell everything, except for my iPhone 6, iPad 2’s and our library of books and then move into a small house somewhere. Wouldn’t that be adventurours.