Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"Better Not Bitter"

Life is not fair. I think we have all grasped that concept by now. Observing the seemingly "perfect" lives of others through the outside often evokes feelings of envy. I am sure we have all been there - judging another's problems because they are "obviously" minuscule and petty compared to your own. But, perhaps those hardships are not so obvious or trivial. We are all fighting an unseen battle. I am a firm believer that God allows all circumstances to occur for some greater good, even if the reasoning is not understood this present moment.

James 3:14-16 "But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice."

This can be related to multiple situations. However, bitterness and jealousy is something I have personally been struggling with lately. It is extremely hard not to become envious while being a spectator of everyone else living life how I thought I should be living, especially following my high school graduation back in May. That is, going to college, establishing careers or landing internship opportunities, becoming involved in their churches and communities, living an active lifestyle, and more. Rather than partaking in the norm, here I am, spending my days hanging IV medications, traveling for appointments, or hospitalized. Being sick has put me in a different place in life. And that is okay. It is something that I need to accept, but sometimes envy clouds that acceptance.  

Proverbs 14:30 - "A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot."

Whether it is relationship woes, a failed grade, financial struggles, family problems, death, or illness, problems are problems. We all have them. Despite where others are in life, our past and present situations need to make us better, not bitter.

During the occasions where bitterness consumes the day, here are a few ways I redirect my thoughts to focus on God's purpose for my life. 

Remember that we ALL have problems. Like mentioned above, another's life struggles are not always visible from the outside. I would not appreciate assumptions being made about me, so I should not make them about others either. 

Comparing struggles does not alter either circumstance. Regardless of what myself or anyone else is going through, sulking in envy does not change the fact that my problems are still my problems and vice versa. None of us can wish them away. There is no sense in wasting time harboring negativity. 

Resentment disguises empathy. It is difficult to be enduring a hardship while the person next to me is rambling on about something "trivial", like not being able to afford the latest gadget or complaining about attending their college class that next morning. I try to remind myself that I need to use my experiences to express empathy to others. Just because another's current problems differ from my own, they are equally as real and deserve understanding from both sides.