You know what I’m talking about don’t you?
That dreaded Christmas letter from the perfect family right?
In my world, if I were writing one to you, it would be written like this:
“Hello dear friends, just dropping you a note from beautiful Honolulu where we are finishing up 20 years of successful and fruit bearing ministry at our church here, on the beach.
We have been so blessed to see 300 new members join the church this year with a passionate desire to forsake all and follow Christ 100% with their lives.
Oh and the kids? They are all fine! Each of them happily married and we now have a total of 25 grandkids! They love their jobs and continue to turn down other offers that pursue them because they are just content to be where they are at.
Our parents are the model of octogenarians in perfect health! We enjoy skiing with them when it works out to land at our cabin in Aspen. Of course, we make sure that this happens at least a few times each year!
Last summer, we forsook the skiing trip for a little jaunt to the Swiss Alps. So glad that Rick and I’s daily workout, running 10 miles a day and lifting our 100 and 200 lb weights have paid off! Keeps those flabby abs and grey hairs at bay you know! 😉
Love catching you up on a few little details of our crazy life! Merry Christmas from us!”
Did I just make you want to gag a maggot or what?!
The truth is that most of us are only half truthful about our circumstances.
Now, there is nothing wrong about being positive.
No one wants to hang around Eeyore for very long but after a while, we want to slap Tigger.
Can we please just have a bit of Pooh, Piglet or Owl. Maybe normal, like Christopher Robbin.
Nobody gets the perfect life and when it seems that they do, the rest of us don’t want to hear about it.
There is something about dealing with health issues, a child making bad grades, struggling marriages, difficult jobs, financial loss, that cause us to weary of the fantasy letters that land in our mail.
We begin to look at this letter, compare it to our own lives and decide that somehow, we have missed our ride on the boat of success. Instead of realizing that maybe these people don’t want to pour out all of their woes in a public letter and are leaving half of the story out, we find ourselves picturing that others have it better than we do.
Somehow, others are blessed. They are the chosen. They have got it made.
The saying, “comparison is the killer of contentment”, is very true because if we stay on this boat, it will shipwreck us on the island of despair.
Depression and suicide are at an all time high around the holidays for a reason. We look back on our lives, relationships and the past year and we compare with where others are at or what we think it should look like and we see we fall very short.
Maybe we need to change our thinking.
After all, success, failure, prosperity, struggles, good health, bad health, come to almost everyone at various seasons in life. The book of Ecclesiastes spells out very well, that this is the lot for all of mankind.
So what is the remedy, when the letter comes and we see the green eyed comparison attitude start to surface?
Maybe we can praise God for the blessings of others and also pray for those hard things they keep hidden. If they are human, they are there.
What about remembering a scripture or two about contentment?
“Godliness with contentment is great gain”, comes to mind. 1 Timothy 6:6
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:11-12.
So, we may not be able to stop the mail from coming but we can have a lot of success in changing our attitude about the circumstances of life.
A dose of reality about others, ourselves and the God who is in it all is the safest place to land.