During my 19 years as Executive Vice President of Georgia Hospital Association, I drove through a half-mile stretch of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Marietta on my way to work every day. Although metro Atlanta is very crowded, I could at least for a few minutes pretend I lived in a less developed area.
More than once, I had to stop for runners crossing the road during their morning runs through the park. And more than once, I got jealous, wishing I could join them instead of having to drive to work.
One morning right after I left Georgia Hospital Association and started my own consulting business, I had one of those days when I had nothing of real substance going on. Rather than sit around the house all morning, I decided to go run in the park. As I approached the very same road crossing I had driven past so many times, I found myself being jealous of “all those people who have somewhere to go this morning when I’m treading water.” I wonder how many of them wished they could be me at that moment.
How typical look right past our countless blessings and become envious of what we don’t have.
Several months ago, I attend a professional healthcare conference and ran in to some younger colleagues I hadn’t seen in a while. Of course, we checked in with each other and asked how we were all doing. One of them commented, “Boy I wish I could be doing what you’re doing. You can set your own schedule, do what you want, and serve as master of your own destiny.”
I didn’t verbalize what I was really thinking: “Yes, you’re right about all those things. But guess what? I don’t have a steady paycheck, I’m paying my whole Social Security withholding amount and healthcare coverage, and I have no one to delegate to all the administrative tasks I either don’t fully understand or hate doing.”
Every choice we make and every circumstance we face has its upsides and its downsides. God has designed life so that we constantly face challenges. I have yet to meet anyone who would not change a single thing about his or her circumstances. It’s easy to get sucked into the Face Book version of people’s lives where we only see their fabulous vacations, incredible accomplishments, and perfect-looking families. It’s easy to look at my areas of disappointment and envy those who seem to have it so much better than I do.
Instead, we should focus on our many blessings and thank God for the things we often take for granted. And we should also thank him even for the rough spots we would ditch if we could. It’s all part of his plan to transform us into thankful people who acknowledge his grace in all areas of our lives – the bad as well as the good. I believe this is part of what Jesus had in mind when he referred to his followers as the Light of the World.