I am horrible at keeping up.
Ask me to drive in the middle of a pack of cars, I can’t do it. Ask me to keep pace with a group of runners, very frustrating. Ask me to try to keep my technology up-to-date with the latest version and updates…no way. I’m not saying I haven’t tried to keep up in areas of my life—but after years of trying to keep pace in the world, I find it is exhausting, frustrating and it stirs up so many inadequacies that I really don’t even want to go there.
The feeling of falling behind surrounds so many of us today and is only exacerbated by what we are seeing behind the screen every few minutes (if we choose to let it). Growing up in the 80s I was not a pacesetter, nor was I one of the popular kids. But fortunately, I didn’t know what I was missing. If I wasn’t invited to a party happening over the weekend or I was excluded from a bunch of people hanging out, I rarely found out. Even so, if I did find out about it, it was already days in the past and I could easily move on.
Today, however, we have immediate access to what is happening. Thanks to social media channels like Snapchat and Instagram, kids immediately know when they are missing out. As adults, we are also victims of FOMO (fear of missing out). When we scroll through Instagram and Facebook, we see wonderful happy pictures of couples, families, perfect children, amazing food that people are eating in fantastic restaurants, and cute pets that everyone is so excited to have. We see vacations all over the world, trophies and awards presentations, date nights out to fancy places and recreation at its finest.
It’s no wonder I took the Facebook app off my phone, chose to ignore Twitter and decided that I didn’t have many images to offer Instagram. I just can’t keep up.
Whether you are on social media or not, the feelings of inadequacy and comparison have plagued men and women for all time. Think back to Eve. She wanted the apple because it offered her something she could otherwise never have. Ironically, it’s because of that first sin in the garden that our eyes have been opened and we can see what we have and what we don’t have. You and I live in the consequences of a fallen world. We feel the tensions of it every day.
When I was in my 20s, I read a short story by Leo Tolstoy titled, “How Much Land Does a Man Need.” The story has stuck with me and shaped much of how I feel about contentment. It is about a young peasant who stated to a friend that he would have complete happiness if he just had more land. The Devil was hiding in a corner and overheard him say this. The Devil decided to test him. The young man came across a generous landowner who was willing to give him all the land he could want simply by walking it in a day, sunup to sundown. Everything inside the perimeter of land that he walked was his. The only condition was that he must return to the same spot he started before the sun went down. If he didn’t make it, he got nothing. At sunup the man was off, and he walked and walked, slowing making turns around the most beautiful land anyone could ever want, excited that it all would one day be his. He walked miles and miles through the hot sun all day long. Along the final turn, late in the day as he was nearing exhaustion, he overextended himself in a desire to get an extra portion of land that he wanted as his own. After walking the extra mile, he realized he may lose it all if he did not hurry back. He sprinted as fast as he could the final miles trying to return before the sun went down. As the sun was about to set, he was crawling the final 100 or so feet trying to complete the loop. He collapsed at the spot where he started, just as the sun went down. The land was his! The kind owner was so happy for him. However, when the owner looked down, he found that the man was dead from exhaustion. The final line of the book was “6 feet head to toe was all the land that he needed.”
That line has always stayed with me, and I have always held in my mind that nothing ever satiates. Nothing ever satisfies. My quest for more will always be. Whether I have much, or very little. In fact, my quest for more leads me closer and closer to misery, unhealthiness, and even death.
In our quest to find life, to live it to its fullest, to enjoy ourselves and find contentment we can’t forget to realize that there is really only one source of Life. 1 John 5:12 says, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Recognize this is a key for life. You have been made by God for a purpose. Who you are is designed by Him. He did not make a mistake. He wired you the way he did intentionally. The family you have, the house you live in, the job that you work, the car that you drive—it’s all in His plan. It’s all His anyway. And most importantly whether you have little or you have much, true Life comes from Jesus and Jesus alone. Nothing else can bring it.
The next time you are comparing your life to the Smith’s on social media, the next time you find yourself jealous over how someone else is living, or the next time you wish you could trade places with someone, just remember what life is. If you have it, you need nothing else. I close with the words of the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church of Philippi, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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.I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11- 13).
May we each rest on Him who gives us strength.
If any of this inspired you, I’d love for you to join my family at Rock Your Family. This year’s theme, “For the Win” will help you win in your parenting and family. We’re headed back to SpringHill Camp in Evart, Michigan for another amazing Rock our Family weekend! Get ready to ride, climb, bike, paddle, gallop, hike, blob, tie-dye, and laugh ‘til it hurts! Rock Your Family is more than a weekend away from the day-to-day, it’s a vacation with a purpose. Registration and more info at kensingtonchurch.org/ryf.