“You are white, you are rich”. These were the words I was greeted with as a walked through the carpark of Dehradun Airport in the North of India. At first I thought, I am hardly rich. At best I would describe myself as middle class. Yet, in comparison to the man speaking to me, I was rich. In reality, my life is not filled with me comparing myself to this man, but to those who have more. As a result, in comparison, I hardly feel rich.
When my kids were little and they started to complain about something they wanted, they would be met with the same question: “what do you deserve?” They knew the answer. “Nothing.” Life is a gift and should be savoured and enjoyed. From this starting point they could enjoy what they had been given, no matter how small, rather than focus on what they didn’t have.
As they got older, I’ve noticed that many luxuries for them have become normal. New cars, overseas holidays, a nice home and private schooling. As a parent I want this for them, yet I am aware when these become normal we can lose sight of how blessed we are. We can become more self focussed and less grateful. I am no different. Always focussing on what I do not have.
My fear is that in always striving and pursuing the next. In comparing ourselves exclusively to those who have more, we rob ourselves of the enjoyment of what we have. We fail to be present in the beauty of the moment. We are unable to recognise all the little blessings and gifts that come our way every day.
We can do this with our possessions, our relationships, and our church. Always focussing on what we are not yet, rather than what we are. As a result we deny ourselves the joy of what is.
The solution to this mindset we create for ourselves is not necessarily to remove what we have. Nor to just focus on those who have less than us as a means to making ourselves feel better. But, could it be we need to stop every now and then to consider how rich we really are. Perhaps make a short list. What if we paused and wrote down one thing to be thankful for in what we own, in our relationships and in our church. Then praise God for the blessings He has put in our lives. What if we did this every day. I suspect we would start to find more joy in what God has given us.