June 2, 2021
It is easy to look at other folks and get the sense that they have it all together. I talk to folks often who tell me about how they wish they were more like other people around them. I once talked to two different moms in a week who pointed at each other while claiming they wish they had their lives together like the other one. I have spent years talking to folks who struggle with depression or anxiety lamenting that their lives are not as orderly or happy as their neighbors. This is a tendency that is growing more common with the increased popularity of social media. Everyone puts pictures of their kids happy and hiking down a trail in nature. They don’t share the ugly details of messy rooms and temper tantrums. It creates the illusion that everyone else is happy. The problem is that the shell is just a layer of enamel that creates the appearance of perfection regardless of what is underneath. The truth is that the grass is always greener where it is being fed and watered. That’s why septic tanks tend to be surrounded by thick, pretty grass. The stuff underneath it is making it that way. Often, the folks who are trying hardest to win your approval and present an image of joyful existence through their social media presence are presenting the green patch on their lawn to cover up for the septic system underneath. Regardless of what your neighbor’s lawn looks like, perhaps the reason my lawn is mostly dead grass and dandelions is because I don’t do anything to care for it. I don’t spread out weed killer. I don’t fertilize my grass. I can’t remember the last time I watered anything. As a result, my lawn looks terrible. The same is true for our own lives and families. If I don’t date my wife and continue to show my love for her, my marriage will develop weeds and dead spots. If I want my kids to flourish, I have to spend time with them. If I spend all my time at work, neglecting the needs of my family, then it shouldn’t surprise me when harmony is lacking. True contentment is a product of investment. This works two ways. First, by investing in my family, I make it better. Time with my wife will make my marriage better. Spending time with my kids will make my family happier. Watering my grass consistently will make it greener. Second, the act of investing energy into my family will help me fall deeper in love with them and help me notice how wonderful they are. Men who complain that their wives aren’t as pretty as they were when they were 20 frequently find themselves in that spot because they have stopped looking at them all the time in favor of other women airbrushed for magazines. What your eyes are set on will naturally grow more and more lovely. Your wife will look better if you see her as the one and only, rather than one of many. Please don’t hear me saying something I am not. My point is that if you only have eyes for your own wife, she will rapidly become the most beautiful woman in the world to you. If you compare her to an illusion while looking at everyone but her, you’ll find nothing but discontent. Our culture has grown used to being given everything right now and with minimal effort. The problem is that the best things in life require work, sweat, and personal investment. A happy family and a greener lawn are the product of that investment. Anyone who believes they can ditch their old life in favor of what’s on the other side of the fence will quickly discover that their new lawn will die just as quickly when it isn’t watered or tended.