Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What to Do When You Want Someone Else's Life


He held a cookie frosted with words of celebration:
Ansel Elgort had reached one million followers on Twitter.

She'd posted a picture of the four of them - one author and three actors - smiling with arms around each other.
Shailene Woodley had captioned it "our constellation :)" (Real life superstars in formation, apparently).

The good life - 
Adoring fans.
Friends among celebrities.
Special privileges.
Red carpets, photo-shoots, and limos.

Superstars are not the only ones who seem to have the good life, though.

She preached the word strongly, and she, too, got to travel to new places and hold the attention of arenas filled with people.

With rocker hair, skinny jeans, red lipstick and all, they had traveled all the way from Australia as they danced and sang through America.  Posting pictures of their conferences, they hashtagged their photos "partyintheUSA"

These people seem to radiate the good life, too, yet the good life reaches even more closely into our lives.

Her hair is smooth and bouncily curly while her blouse seems to epitomize style.
Her flawless conversation, better grades than you, nicer car, and cuter phone case screams to you that she
has the good life, too.

His name on the record sign in front of the school shows his athletic ability that always seems to cast a shadow on yours.  His swaggeringly confident walk and ease of manner screams to you that he
has the good life, too.

Looking from the outside, the good-life group seems to hold perfectly wonderful existences, and your life seems like little more than flaws and deficiencies.

"If only I had somebody else's life..." we say.

What are we to do?

"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.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."
James 3:14-18

1. Snatch those alluring possibilities and set your priority.
In reality, some of these people may really actually have a good life.  Frankly, that's awesome!  The problem comes when their happiness and success becomes a stumbling block for you and when that causes you to stop focusing on God.  Their life is not your chief concern; Your own is.  Instead of focusing on the alluring possibilities your life could have if you had someone else's life, set your priority: knowing God and making Him known with all you've got.  In order to get on track to do that, follow the steps below.

2. Wise up.
As we learn from James, being jealous of anything (including the alluring good life) and desiring to do anything to gain the good life for ourselves (selfish ambition) is not wise.  period.  In fact, it is going to lead us to disorder: we ruin relationships by our jealousy and we live short of what God has for us by being tripped up within ourselves.  Further, we are going to be lead not only to have these vile traits within us but also to do vile actions.
You've got to remind yourself of this truth when the good life's pull is strong.  Recognize that anything that leads you to forsake wisdom and sin is not good for you.  Recognize the depths of where this sin (earthly, unspiritual, demonic!) will lead you: to a vile inside and outward actions.
You've got to pray.  God will give you the strength to fight against sin!

3. Choose what you're going to make.
Truth: we are the ones who create imaginary perfect people.  Perfect people do. not. exist.
The good-life group make seem to "have it all," but people are people are people are people.  Those superstars?  Yeah.  They get sick, forget to brush their hair, and lose their temper like every other human on planet earth.  Those Christian superstars?  Yep.  They forget their keys, misplace their purse, and fight loneliness just like you do.  Those "perfect people" you see regularly?  You know they get offended sometimes, have rude moments, and forget their friend's birthday on occasion.  All people make mistakes, but it's up to us whether we let those mistakes make who we are as people.
Here's what you need to do: When the good life is pulling, face this truth: people are people, and all people are imperfect.  Next, choose not to let your own mistakes make who you are as you feel down about yourself and wish you had someone else's life.  Instead, choose to get the focus off yourself and find a way to make someone else happy as you serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2).
  
4. Face the stars and add a little more perfect to their good life.
The desire to have someone else's life might be so strong that you need to employ the emergency technique that my friend told me the other night: 1) stop the thought train  2) count to three  3) put all your gusto into doing something else (you can go clean something, make some tea, go on a run).
After you've burned off some steam, why not conquer your problem?
(This next idea is from Priscilla Shirer who received it from a source she left anonymous due to sensitive information).  Find a picture or something that will remind you of the people you're particularly jealous of.  Then, put the picture where you'll see it frequently.  When you see the picture, you may have those bad thoughts and feelings rise to the surface but choose to find one good thing about that person.  Then, pray for them; pray that their lives would continue to be blessed.  If you see any of those people, look for ways that you can bless these in person.
I have my own set of pictures, and - let me tell you! - looking these people in the face and being thankful for them is powerful.

Finally, you have been given a life.
The God who made you His masterpiece worthy to die for gave you this life; Why not enjoy this good life you have?

© 2014 Deborah Hope Shining

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