I was a bit jealous. Someone famous had posted a picture of herself and her kiddos in their new car, and one of the first things I noticed was, “oooh, her car has leather seats.”
What’s crazy is I don’t even like leather seats. To me, they’re too hot in the summer, they can get scratched….and yet here I was wondering if life would be a tiny bit nicer if I had them. Previously I hadn’t given a second thought to what kind of seats were in our car– until I saw someone else’s seats.
It’s not just fancier cars filling our newsfeeds and Instagrams; it’s that time of year now for family Christmas photos– glitter and twinkling lights, matching holiday pajamas, and plaid, lots of plaid. I love these photos and seeing how kids or families have grown. Yet it’s so easy to think “their photo is better than ours,” or, “I wish we had the time/money for photos like they do, but we don’t.”
And then I stop and remember- the people in the photo (and the love between them) are more important than the photo itself, or having a “perfect” picture to look back on.
Maybe you could care less about family Christmas photos. But seeing someone else’s perfectly decorated tree, full of beautiful, delicate ornaments that wouldn’t last 5 minutes in your house, maybe comparing that to your kid-friendly tree causes jealousy. In those moments, remember:
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
Usually when things are stolen, we don’t have a say in the matter. But when it comes to allowing comparison to steal our joy and cause discontent, we do have the ability to stop that. Paul’s secret to being content “whether living in plenty or in want” was that he relied on God to give him the strength he needed to be content despite his circumstances:
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:12-13).
The holidays are the perfect time for comparison to steal our joy and contentment, if we aren’t aware. We are bombarded with ad campaigns for new cars with gigantic red bows sitting outside perfect homes. We see daily pictures and status updates about presents, traditions, and elves who go above and beyond just sitting on shelves. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things (personally I love seeing all the creative elf ideas!), but absorbing all of this can easily have us thinking that we aren’t doing “enough” for Christmas or aren’t doing it “right.” In the midst of the doubt or discontent, when we ask for the strength to be content despite our circumstances, our mindset can shift towards gratefulness. Gratefulness can lead to contentment.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to celebrate a holiday. Holidays can mean big home cooked meals, take out, or eating at a restaurant. They can look like wrapping your home in lights or setting out a candle. They can have real trees, fake trees, no trees at all. Whatever is meaningful to you and brings you joy– focus on those things, regardless of what everyone else is doing. Don’t let comparison steal your joy.
What are some strategies that help you to be content?