Do you know the most aggravating thing about living on a tropical island?
Living on a tropical island.
Little things go wrong, as happens in life. Or big things. Yet when I talk about them, quite often the response is sympathy plus a ‘but you’re living in a tropical paradise.’ The phrase carries the unspoken ‘listen here, you have sun and warmth and can go to the beach and we’re all dealing with normal life. How bad can it actually be?’
If we’re comparing lifestyles, then yes. I live on a tropical island. I wash dishes and take showers in water that comes from the river and takes on a brownish tint whenever it rains hard. I deal with whistles and stares because I’m a woman and an American. Wifi and power cut out on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. I have to walk up a mountain to bring my laundry home at 10 p.m. at night. I also have to walk down the mountain if I want a private place for a phone call.
Not to mention all the stresses of life stay the same. Emotions. Relationships. Doubts and fears. None of that changes based on location or money or age. I don’t need sympathy, but don’t act like I somehow have things easier because I live in a different country.
And that’s the point.
It doesn’t matter if you live in the States or in the Dominican Republic. It doesn’t matter if you rent an apartment or own a mansion. It doesn’t matter if you type away with your computer on your lap in a living room or if you have an office all of your own.
As humans, we like to compare ourselves with others and think things like ‘if I lived in a quieter house, I could get so much more done’ or ‘if I had more money, I would be less stressed’ or ‘if I had people supporting me I would never get discouraged again.’
We see what we want (which is always something we don’t have) and we struggle to be content. There’s always something more. Something better. Something else.
There always will be something else, no matter what you get. And your fears and doubts and struggles will still be present because the problem isn’t a lack of things but a lack of joy and contentment.
This is something I was struck with anew not long ago.
When we complain about what we don’t have, we are basically grumbling to God and informing Him that what He’s given us isn’t enough. We’re telling Him that He miscalculated. That He ought to have given us more and that we know better than Him.
Is it okay to want things? Of course.
I would love to have a writing desk high enough for me to stand and write. Or a hobbit hole with flags and maps on all the walls and perfect wifi. Or enough sleep.
We can want things. We can work toward them or ask for them. At the same time, we need to be content with what we have. If we don’t get the things we ask for, we still need to rejoice in what God has given us.
Yes, He’s given us all different possessions and struggles. From our view, there may seem to be an unfair distribution of such things while the next person will have a completely different view of what is fair or unfair.
What does matter is that God has given us enough for whatever He wants from us at the moment. Maybe what He wants is for us to write that next book. Maybe, instead, He’s teaching us lessons in patience, trust, and focus.
Regardless, the next time you think about how someone has it better than you, stop and think again.
God knows where you are now. He knows what is best. So instead of stressing about needing more in your life, focus on what you have and what you are meant to do with that.
It doesn’t have to be all you want, but I promise it will be enough for what God wants. Rest in that confidence, trust in Him, and keep moving forward. God knows what He’s doing.