Recently, I was offered a wonderful job opportunity in a new place. I was ecstatic. I had been hoping this would work out, that everything would come together. So few things in my life seem to fall into place exactly the way they need to. But this, it just happened. And when I got the call that everything was in motion, I couldn’t stop smiling. For a whole day, I was so happy, thrilled, beyond excited. I had just been given everything I wanted.
The next day, the shine had worn off a bit, and reality started to set in. My mind was racing with all of the things I would have to do in order to make this work. And then it happened, that gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach signaling that maybe I was making a mistake. Maybe this wasn’t what I wanted at all. Maybe this was an absolutely horrible idea, and why was I even considering it? (My mind moves from “oh dear” to “what fresh hell is this?” in a manner of seconds. It is not a gift.) And that feeling, that sense of impending doom just wouldn’t go away. It took up residence inside me, worrying me out of my happiness.
I’ve had this type of incident happen many times before. It happened when I decided to sleep over at a friend’s house for the first time. It happened when I signed up to give impromptu speeches at a debate tournament (yes, we know, I’m a bit nerdy). It happened when I picked the college I wanted to go to. It happened when a guy told me he wanted to date me. It happened when I chose to go to Cairo (to be exact, it happened mid-flight to DC, accompanied by tears… awkward). It happens often, with varying symptoms, but the idea is the same. I’m afraid to commit to something. I’m afraid to make a mistake and pick the wrong thing and be stuck with it.
I never could truly figure out exactly what this feeling was until I watched my sister pick out a pair of shoes for school. My sisters all wear TOMS. They love them. They try to convince me its because they want to help give shoes to children without, but let’s be honest, Christian hipsters just wear TOMS. And my sisters live in the heart of hipster land. I, however, could never justify fifty-plus dollars on something that is going to protect my feet from mud and other unmentionable substances. So when my sister was struggling to pick out a pair of shoes, I just thought she was being ridiculous. I mean, they are just shoes. (Unless we are talking about boots. Boots are God’s gift to mankind.)
My sister, who is a senior in high school I might add, spent weeks deciding on a pair of white TOMS that sparkle or shine or something. She was in love with them and waited a week for them to come. But as she waited, the excitement was starting to dim. Was the color too weird? Was the size too small? Should she have just waited for the new styles to come out? Did everyone else have the same ones? Should she just return them? This might be a good time to mention that my sister experiences buyer’s remorse before she even leaves a store. Its baffling.
My sister returned the shoes and ended up not purchasing a second pair. She just couldn’t decide. And as I watched this whole process unfold, I saw myself throughout my life, regretting choices I hadn’t yet made. I would always get to the point of having the chance to get the very thing I wanted, and when it was offered to me, I wouldn’t be able to take it. It was no longer satisfying.
We’ve all heard the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” This is true. Its greener, because we imagine it to be so. We step onto our own grass, the grass we’ve waited and longed for, the grass that is everything we dreamt about, and then we look over to the left and what do we see? Greener grass. Suddenly, what we have isn’t enough. Something is wrong with it. We feel despair seeping through our veins as we look around at the grass we have, realizing its yellow and brown and dying. We want to retreat, to escape to the other grass, because we know that is what will make us happy.
I search for happiness in the things I have. Not on purpose, but out of habit. I look for it in the books I read, the shows I watch, the clothes I buy, the relationships I have. I look for happiness in the things I can control, and if for even a moment I think I’m losing that feeling of happiness, I’ll go look for it in something else.
But we never find that greener grass. We never find that sense of overwhelming contentment in the things of this world. We aren’t meant to. God didn’t create us for that purpose. We are to find happiness and contentment in Him. He is the only one who can provide us with satisfaction that is free of the gnawing feeling. Through Him, and only Him, can we look around us and appreciate the greenness of the grass we stand on.
What I am slowly realizing (because apparently I’m not as quick a study as I thought I was) is that if I can commit to God, then everything else in my life is just details. If I can choose to follow God and not be plagued with this sense of remorse that I might be choosing the wrong thing, then everything else is as easy as breathing. Committing to God is the hardest and easiest thing a person can do, and completely worth it. He makes everything brighter, lovelier, and more wonderful. He is the greener grass.
And the wonderful thing about giving your life to God? It comes with a sense of confidence in your choices. You aren’t making them alone anymore, and you aren’t making them based on what will make you happy. You are making them based on what God’s purpose for you is. Following God, pursuing His purpose for us, is the most satisfying thing we will ever do. When we look to God as we make the hard decisions in our life, that horrid gnawing feeling of despair is gone, because nothing can be better than doing God’s will. Suddenly, the greenness of the grass doesn’t even matter, because we are free from regrets. We can be satisfied in our choices. We can begin to feel happy.