Isn’t it just like me to stare at my vegan hotdog with disgust? Not because it is vegan. I am pescatarian (basically a vegetarian except that I occasionally eat fish). You would think that I would be grateful for the variety of options now available to me but, no. Instead of feeling gratitude, I think to myself, “wow… vegetarians have it so easy nowadays.” As my good friend and associate put it, “Things are a lot different from when you had to walk up hill 3 miles both ways in the snow for a veggie burger or carrot!” I hope that you all can appreciate his humor because I fail to see the comic brilliance in his sarcasm.
None the less, he made a valid point. Where once my dietary options were limited, I am now able to enjoy a barbecue. I have choices at drive-throughs, too. So why am I so disgruntled? Wouldn’t you think I would be happy? Well, in truth, I should be. The problem is that we don’t know how to be content because we can’t help ourselves. We look at people who have it better, got it easier or enjoyed it earlier in life and we are envious of whatever ‘it’ is. Be it a vegan hotdog, a faithful partner, or a great job. We want to know where ‘ours’ is when everyone else is devouring their abundant meals. Most of the time, it’s right in front of us on our own plates! We have been blessed but until we stop looking at everyone else’s table, we will never know it.
Competition has its place. I work with larger companies than I used to, and I can understand how competition, when approached in healthy ways, can produce positive change. The flip side of competition is that it can also cause discontentment and yield needless frustration. Displaced comparisons can fuel jealously and insecurity – they rob us of the fruits of the Spirit. As Christians, we should strive to be content, trusting and rejoicing in all circumstances. As Paul shared with us, “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13, ESV).
Some circumstances are not fair, and they are not pleasant; some are downright painful. But when we count our own blessings and stop comparing our skills, homes, cars, jobs, families, and food to those of others, we will find that we have all we need and probably even far more than we deserve. Trying to be the best, do the best, and have the best will exhaust you and rob you of your joy. Allow yourself to rest because competition is exhausting. Learn to relax and let people eat their own dinner. Count your blessings, enjoy your food, and be grateful.