Day 10 of Lent, Psalm 16:
Do you ever complain about your portion or your allotment? Does it ever feel like it isn’t enough? Having four boys, there is often a competition and complaint over food and portions: fighting over the amount of food, getting to the food before the next one eats all of it, complaining about not having enough food or having “nothing to eat in the house.” It is as if, there might not be enough to go around and they may not be fed.
We have each have our own portion and everyone’s portion may not be the same. Therefore, it is easy to look around and notice what portion another person has been given and compare it to our own. We begin to do “portion control.” Portion control is looking to others to gauge (or control) what is the best kind of portion, what is the right amount of portion and whether my portion is enough. Often this leads to the desire for “their portion to be my portion.” What portions of others do you tend to notice? Maybe you notice someone else’s salary, status, degree or recognition received. Or it could be someone’s home, marriage, job, car or body that you notice.
The Grass is Greener
You have probably heard the saying, “The Grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” From our perspective their grass, their portion, looks a lot better than our grass or our portion. Right now my grass has brown spots and is weedy. I could think, ”If I had their grass, life would be good!” It is also easy to think that:
- “They are so happy all of the time. Nothing bothers them.”
- “They are always content.”
- “They have the best house, clothes, enough money and a great, secure job.
- “Their parents are so great—not like my parents.”
- “Their spouse is so caring all of the time.”
When we look over the fence doubt begins to set in. I begin to doubt my portion. It doesn’t begin to seem like enough. Doubt often leads to discouragement. Discouragement can foster greed. Now, I am not only am discouraged about my portion, but I think I will feel happier if I have something else.
The wrong angle
The problem with looking over the fence is we see things from a different angle. We don’t live their life. We don’t always know what is truly going on, on their side of the fence. We see the green grass, but we don’t see the weeds hidden, from our angle and distance. I was discussing with college women about the effects of social media—we do portion control here as well as we “spy” on others. Our life can seem incomplete when we look at another’s page or posts. Whether it is on facebook or with the neighbor next door, it is too easy to feel like we don’t have enough, or we are not enough. The funny thing about facebook, most people are not going to post a bad hair day, their job loss, rejection from a date, not finishing a race, having to babysit their brother over Spring Break, needing to work to pay off a car accident, that their husband walked out, hating their addiction, the debt they are incurring or that life feels out of control.
Another problem with comparing portions is we become discontent. As I begin to look over the fence, I am now not happy with what I have. Many years ago, I had a dear friend in whom I kept comparing myself with. Whenever I went to her home, I felt distracted as I looked around and began to want what she had. It seemed easy to look over the fence and see all her great stuff. The things I had, didn’t seem so great now. It was strange to me– I was fine a few hours before, happy with life, and then all of a sudden I felt discontent. I wanted her home, her stuff, and her neighborhood. When I went home I would feel “blah.” I was looking over the fence, finding her portion more attractive and, my portion, well– not enough. Even if I could have her portion, have her “greener grass,” there would be another fence on the other side of the yard to look over as well. Discontent, breeds further discontent. That is just human nature.
The third problem is we forget what God has done. He is our good. Whether our portion seems small or just right; whether we have green grass, brown or no grass He is our good right now. He is our portion. He is enough.
I have liked Psalm 16 since college. At times, I memorized different parts of it, because it reminds me that God is my good and my portion. It is worth finding and reading the entire Psalm. Here is some parts of it:
Preserve me O God, for I take refuge in You.
- He is my preserver, my refuge
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.”
The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.
I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
You will make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy;
in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
I am thankful that God reminds us of the best angle, His angle. From our perspective another’s portion may seem perfect. But really the grass over the fence is probably a little brown, weedy, and in need of some fertilizer soon and a good mow. The grass is always greener until you have to weed it.
The Lord is my portion. He is enough.