Once upon a time there was a princess. She looked with longing from her room window. She was not allowed to leave the castle property. She had to play in her room or in the castle garden. If she did go past the castle gates, she went with her nanny or a servant. She was never allowed to run in the meadow. Or wade in the creek. Or play games with the village children. Her life was full of doing the proper things. She felt like she was in prison! As she watched the other children, she wished she could be like them instead of stuck inside the cold and dreary castle. Her parents, busy with state affairs paid little attention to her and she had no siblings. Her fancy clothes and filled tummy provided little comfort in the midst of her great loneliness.
Meanwhile, there was an ordinary girl in the village sitting under the shadow of the castle. She was the much-loved daughter of the town cobbler and his wife. She looked with longing every day at the castle. Oh, if only she could be a princess. She thought of the clothes she would wear, looking down at her own drab, torn dress. She thought of the magnificent carriages she would ride in for she had never even been in a carriage. She thought of having servants at her beck and call. And the food! Oh, the meat and the pastries that would be on her table. What a wonderful life it must be to be a princess! If only.
Two different people, two very different lives. Which is better? Maybe neither is better. Perhaps they are just different. I think we all spend a good part of our lives looking at others and wishing we had their car or house or job. Perhaps it is their spouse or children or salary or vacation or talent that we envy. You get the idea. We forget that no matter how good someone else’s life looks to us, there are always problems and issues they are dealing with because, believe it or not, no one’s life is perfect. Instead of focusing on what someone else has, perhaps we should focus on our own blessings.
Most of us have so much for which to be thankful. Every life is different. God has given each of us varied blessings and varied struggles. Why some seem to struggle more than others we will never understand. But let us remember that everyone struggles. Everyone has problems–even if you can’t see them from the outside looking in. But everyone also has blessings in their lives. Finding them can sometimes be hard in the difficult moments and times of our lives. But if we will consciously focus on the blessings in our lives, we will be filled with joy and gratitude. If we focus on what others have and what we do not have, we become dissatisfied and unhappy. It is a constant struggle. By nature, we are not content.
Let’s remove our longing eyes from the lives of others and the words “if only” from our lips and instead be like Paul, who learned to be content in all circumstances.
I Timothy 6:6; Philippians 4:11-13