The Grass is (not always) Greener

Posted on July 21, 2013

The Grass is (not always) Greener

A message from Angel Angell:

I’m a dreamer, a visionary or maybe I just get bored easily. I like adventure, mission, and knowing that what I’m doing is making a difference, and I especially love when I get praised for my hard work.

I also adore my kids, but the thing about my children is they rarely offer much positive feedback. I have yet to get a thank you card in the mail from any of them. When I’m changing a diaper in a sleep-deprived state while listening to my husband in bed snoring loudly, it’s hard not to get a little jealous of his “freedom.” Oh, everyone will tell you, “Just look at that little one! There’s no more precious job on Earth than that of a parent!” That was my mantra, too, when I had my first child. I smiled politely when people told me that when I had two kids. When I had three kids (all three years and younger), I smiled through gritted teeth and then cried in the bathroom.

Honestly, that’s what drove me to go back to teaching after staying home for four long years. Teaching high school English is very rewarding for me. It’s cerebral and engaging and interactive. I have scores of students that appreciate my hard work. They think I’m smart, and I love it!

When I was first teaching fresh out of college, I was ready to win the public school for Christ. When I went back to teaching after my kids, I went back to school to fill a void I felt that I had. Sure, I wanted a break from building block towers and half-hearted talks with moms at McDonalds. But mostly, I wanted to do something “significant.” I wanted someone to recognize me.

So, I taught school part-time again, telling myself that it wouldn’t take up too much of my time. [Teachers, feel free to start laughing at me here.] It’s been three years. I have seen many students grow academically and spiritually. I’ve been a pretty good teacher. I’ve been a pretty good mother. However, what I’ve found is that I am always divided. I am thinking of lesson plans when I am playing with my kids. I am staring at my kid’s photos when I should be grading papers. Teaching is just one of those jobs that you don’t just leave at school. It takes all of you.

Guess what else I’ve found out—raising kids takes all of you, too. I needed to make a choice. So, I resigned from my teaching position. I realize that the grass will always seem greener somewhere somehow. As a human on this side of heaven and as a dreamer still searching, I’m never completely satisfied and happy. But I have to learn to do what God calls me to do season by season, even if it’s hard and I don’t always want to.

Certainly, I don’t think all moms “should” stay home. I have had several different jobs as a mom and plan on doing some sort of part-time ministry in this season. I also still think teaching is one of the most important jobs on the planet. The point is that for me both were just too much, and my reason for teaching, at least in this season, was selfish. I wanted significance when my identity comes from Christ alone, not my position. So, my first job now is to simply ask God: What would you have me do today, Lord? Please equip me to do that well and seek my applause from You.

Women, the grass may seem greener at home with the kids or dreamier back at the office, but the truth is the grass is greenest where God’s calling us. We need His approval like rain. The same goes for our married or dating life. The lawn can easily seem greener with this boyfriend or that other husband.

A message from Adrianne

I remember walking through the streets of New York City with my boyfriend at the time. I squealed when we passed Sephora on Time Square. He didn’t know about the glorious perfumes or teal eye shadows, and the conversation quickly turned to why he didn’t wear cologne. He said that he didn’t want to wear cologne until he met his wife.

What?

He said he wouldn’t want to distract any other women, but he’d gladly wear cologne for his wife. Half of me rolled my eyes at such a hyper cautious guardrail. The other half of me swooned with respect for him that he would consider others before himself like that. As an attractive, young man, I assumed that he’d be dousing on the cologne every morning. Instead, he actually cared about how his choices might help or hinder a woman.

The idea of sacrificing attention in order to serve someone else was new to me. I could sense it was noble, but it was so foreign to any mindset I had harbored or encountered. I grew up with the flaunt it, spray it, gloss it, girl, way! But I’ve grown to respect and begin to apply a similar appreciation of how easily our choices can help or hinder another.

Ironically, a few months later this boyfriend asked me if I’d like to go “cologne shopping” with him. (I said yes, and we are on our 11th year of marriage.)

Women, we can be so quick to waft pheromones on the weak, irrespective of how it might hinder a man or his family. It’s like in this music video (our first Shabby Chic Ministries’ video production!) where a woman wrestles with a co-worker’s invitation to a “working dinner.” While an after-hours meeting could be intriguing, she’s single, and he is married. Going could boost her career and ego, and we’ll all be faced with similar decisions of consequence in life, so check out the video below. (Props to Compass Initiative for their mad video production and Homestead for their beautiful gift of music.)

SCM Music Video still

In order to surrender seeking attention from outside God’s boundaries, we need to grasp first that we can and should seek attention and encouragement from God. When we get our at ‘a girl’ from God, something fills us to the brim. We just don’t need other’s recognition as much. And something shifts inside of us so that we actually want to serve others rather than ourselves. Take the biblical story of Rebekah; she could have run when she saw a stranger and all of his sweaty, slobbery camels coming toward her water well. (Most of us would have.) But Rebekah hustled to give him and all his camels water instead. She poured herself out in service and in doing so proved that she was perfect fit for one of the most prominent, wealthy men of all time, Isaac. Rebekah’s love story did not begin with perfume or people’s praise, it began with humble service and God lifted her higher than she could have imagined (Gen 24).

Women who fill up on work accolades, sales numbers, mommy praise, Facebook likes, academic awards or men’s attention will, in time, come up empty. Women who place their full approval upon the perfect work of Christ feel less and less need for pats on the back and spend more time giving them.

Whose approval do you look for? Take a moment and surrender any longing for recognition or attention outside of God.

You know the old adage: the grass is always greener where you water it. So, go on and ask God to rain down His encouragement upon you. His Presence is the ultimate source we need to recognize our own greener pastures in hand.

by Angel Angell & Adrianne Schwanke with Shabby Chic Ministries

  • If everyone goes left, but God goes right. Which direction would you go? (Ex 3:15)
  • Whose attention are you thinking of when you dress?
  • Who will be the greatest in the kingdom? (Mk 9:35).
  • If you are in a situation similar to this music video, look up and write out this passage: Romans 6:13
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