“There are kids in other countries who would love to get their teeth cleaned, Bethany.”
Really, Mom? There are kids who’d love to have bubble gum scented paste (I say “scented” because it certainly doesn’t taste anything like bubble gum) spread across their gums and teeth and sandblasted around, with the chance to spit into a tube every few seconds? I doubt it. But if there are, they are welcome to take my place.
And so it went.
My mom, in an effort to encourage us to whine less and say thank you more often, compared our situations in life to those of others. You don’t like supper? Well, think about those kids in X country who have no supper. You wish you had a denim skirt to wear to the party? Some people don’t even have clean clothes at all.
While I can now laugh at my insolence and appreciate my mom’s efforts, I have also learned lately that the admonishment, “Don’t think about what they have. Just be grateful for what YOU have” only works if I DON’T think about what they have.
When I look around at my friends and start wishing I were engaged, or see another friend newly pregnant and rejoice for her but inwardly feel a little sad that it’s not me, then I’m not living in gratitude. I’m just playing the comparison game, and in that game, I can never always win. Sometimes I might. Sometimes I might compare myself to my co-worker and be extremely grateful that I don’t have to deal with X or Y problems. Most of the time, though, I’ll find myself dwelling on the objects of my gratitude (or lack thereof) and not on the Giver.
How can I become more grateful? Focus more on what God’s doing in my life and on the gifts I’m given every day in all different guises. If I focus on this, there’s not time to compare myself to anyone else. If I don’t compare myself to anyone else, I find that I’m more grateful.
And that leads me right to the Giver.