When I was a boy, my dad was constantly telling me “Son, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” As a young boy, stuck mowing the lawn on Saturday mornings, I never quite got what he meant by that. I mean, if the grass is greener over there, what does that have to do with all this stuff I’m stuck taking care of over here? And, yet, he insisted I’ll understand when I got older.
So I got older. As a teenager who constantly was looking at other kids at school and wishing that I had their clothes, or their cars, or even their parents (they always seemed so much cooler than mine with so fewer rules). Still, Dad would tell me, “Son, the grass is always greener on the other side.” What?? Who said anything about grass? I just wish that I had Gordon’s Honday CRX instead of my ’74 VW Bug.
Then, somewhere in my 20’s, I started to get it.
I remember watching the comedy classic “Young Frankenstein”, and hearing my dad refer to Marty Feldman’s Igor. Along with offering a report on the neighbor’s lawn, Dad also used to accuse me of having “Marty Feldman Eyes”. You see, Marty, the comic genius that he was, had one eye that looked off in a different direction than the other.
So, when I finally put Dad’s two lessons together: Marty Feldman Eyes and The Grass Is Always Greener, I finally understood:
I wasn’t looking at what was right in front of me: What God has blessed me with or what I actually had, but instead peering over at other people’s stuff with one crazy eye, jealously longing for stuff they had but I didn’t. What I hadn’t paid attention to was the second half of Dad’s grass lesson, “…but it still has to be mowed.”
I didn’t understand that the stuff that I was coveting also came at a price. I just wanted whatever it was they had and I didn’t.
And lately, my Dad – now known as Grandpa around my house – saw my sins passed on to the next generation.
You see, we were at church and my twin seven-year-olds were sitting in their chairs during the service looking at their Brick Bibles – Comic book style books with Bible stories told with still shots composed entirely of Lego bricks & minifig’s.
What grabbed my dad’s attention, though, was that despite the fact that they each had their own Brick Bibles on their laps, one of them wasn’t content with looking at his own Bible, he had to constantly peer over his brother’s shoulder to see what cool stuff was in his book. Now, keep in mind – they had the exact same book! Yet, for some reason, Thing 1 thought that whatever Thing 2 was reading had to be better and more interesting than what was on his lap.
And, we’re no different.
According to Dad, too often, instead of looking at whatever is going on in his life, and making the most of each opportunity, he finds himself looking over at someone else’s life and getting sidetracked by what is going on in someone else’s “greener lawn”.
I mean, how much time do we spend time concerned about what’s going on with other people rather than paying closer attention to what’s right in front of us? It’s a whole lot easier to look at the “rights and wrongs” of other people rather than honestly assessing the “rights and wrongs” of our own lives.
And now, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and all the other social media outlets, it’s infinitesimally easier to get sucked into what other people are doing, where they are going, or what they are eating.
As my dad says, we need to concentrate more on what we can learn for ourselves – how to become better people, leaders, helpers, supporters, parents, etc. But often times, we get sidetracked by situations we see other people getting themselves into and concentrate far too much on their lives instead of ours.
Now that I’m a grown man, I see this principle – this distraction – at work more than ever. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a hundred times where guys look at other guys’ homes, marriages, children, cars… with Marty Feldman eyes. Meanwhile, they completely ignore what’s right there on their own laps!
The consequences of this type of wandering eyes are a whole lot worse than simply looking at your brother’s comic book.
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