(July 5) An Unforgettable Lesson I Learned from Gophers

Proverbs 14:30 "A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot."

There are many great things about living in the community my family has been blessed to call home for the past eighteen years. The people are friendly. The schools are strong. There are a number of active churches. It's a wonderful place to live.

There is, however, one aspect of my fair city that is a continual headache. Gophers! They are the bane of my existence. They ruin your yard in seconds. There are many weapons available to try to combat them. There are poison peanuts, traps, smoke bombs, and sonic spikes. There are homemade devices people employ. Some try flooding the gopher hole with a gallon of water, putting gum in the tunnel, hooking a hose from the exhaust pipe of your car into the tunnel...I could go on. I've heard them all and tried them all.

The terrible thing about gophers is you may be able to capture one and defeat it, but there are dozens ready and willing to take its place. You mow, spray for weeds, fertilize, water, and keep your lawn looking pristine. Then...you wake up and find a gopher mound. You come home from work and find four more. I loathe them!

A few years ago my wife and I were walking through our neighborhood and we passed a lawn that looked very nice and...no gophers. My wife commented on how good the acreage we were passing looked. Someone found a way to be gopher-free. She said maybe I should ask the homeowners for their secret.

I decided to take a quick stroll through their property and investigate. You know what I found? The evidence of gophers...many gophers! There were gopher mounds everywhere, but they had simply been recently mowed over. From a distance, it appeared that their lawn was perfect. At first, as I looked across their acreage from the street, I was confused, jealous, envious, frustrated, and for a moment found myself wishing I had their lawn and property.

However, when I looked closer I realized they had the same problems I had. From a distance, it was easy to think they had it perfect. Up close, though, the struggles I had are the same ones they experienced too.

Sound familiar? You look at your friends Instagram and Facebook and their lives seem so perfect. The marital stress you experience appears to be absent from them. The struggles you have with your children appear to be missing in theirs. You feel lonely; they seem to always be with friends. Your nights and weekends are often boring; theirs come off looking like party after party.

When you compare your life to someone else's it is easy to conclude that they just have it better. You think the grass is greener on the other side (or, you think the grass is gopher-free on the other side!). But as many have said before, you never want to compare your life to someone else's highlight reel.

Proverbs 14:30 says, envy makes the bones rot. Envy will destroy you from the inside out. Do not be deceived by looking at how things appear from a distance. Everyone struggles with sin. We all have days that are sad and lonely. No one is exempt from feeling let down or left out. In other words, the lawns of everyone's life has their share of gophers.

Take heart and be grateful for what you have. Tell those closest to you how much they mean to you. No, your life is not perfect, but guess what? No one's life (or marriage, or family, or ministry, or church, or job) is. No longer compare what you have to someone else and instead, simply slow down and give thanks for the many blessings God has given you. Gratitude is the fastest path to contentment. Envy is a fast-track to despair. Choose to be grateful!


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