This past week my sister, brother-in-law, and their two boys came to visit before the 4th of July holiday. July 3rd is my nephew, Andrew’s birthday. He turned 10! That is a huge birthday around here… double digits! He decided that he wanted to go to Dolly Splash Country, a water park in Pigeon Forge, TN. We had a great day of fun, sun, and water park thrills. We stayed until close, and came home to enjoy birthday cake and ice cream. To say the least, Andrew was beside himself because he knew he was close to “present time”.
Being the wonderful mothers that we are, my sister and I insisted that all the children take showers to wash off the day’s sunscreen and water from the community bath, known as a water park. That is not even mentioning the fact that the lazy river was shut down for about an hour for a “code brown”. I hope that needs no further explanation. We all agreed that bathing came before eating and presents.
Finally, after waiting for what seemed like an eternity… Andrew opened his one and only present (we knew it had to be good… if its only one present for a big birthday… its always good!). He was beside himself with joy and excitement. It was an iPod touch 4th generation. He screamed. He danced. He held it up to display it for all the cousins. He was thrilled.
At the very same moment that Andrew joyously opened his gift, a green eyed monster entered my home and took control of my son, Luke. Now, Luke is 7 and his birthday is not until December. He had no reason for his reaction, so my only explanation… ENVY! He was so angry and he shouted, “I want an iPod touch! That is NO FAIR!!! I never get anything!” I have to tell you that I was one proud mama standing there watching my child behave like a total spoiled brat… NOT! I couldn’t believe my ears. Here we had spent a fun day at the water park. We had slushies and quality time. What on earth could have possessed him to behave so horribly?
After the appropriate punishment of being sent to his room before I came unglued, I ran through the days events. What could have prompted this? Maybe he was tired or hungry? Maybe he was getting sick? After running through my mental “mom list” of reasonable explanations, I could only come up with one… yep, pure envy! He had no reason to believe he would get a gift that day. He was not told he was getting an iPod touch. He saw it and he wanted it! He behaved accordingly.
Later that I night I talked to him about his out burst and how that it was so ugly to act that way. Of course, he was sorry. We talked about not becoming angry when someone gets something we would like to have. We talked about how God has given us so many blessings and we should be grateful for all the wonderful things we do have. I think he got it as best he could for a 7 year old. The real lesson of the night wasn’t for Luke. It was for me. After reflecting about the whole nasty scene and thinking how glad I was that it was only family there, it hit me, the real lesson. As adults we see children pitch fits and we discipline them. We tell them that they are wrong for feeling that way. It is very difficult to see that we do the very same thing to God. We see someone get ahead in their career and we envy their success. A friend buys a bigger home or a new car, and we think, “I work hard. Why can’t I have those things.” We see hundreds of thousands of images everyday telling us what we don’t have and why we need more. We covet. We envy. We pitch fits. I realized that our children see the double standard in our lives. Oh, more than likely none of us are standing outside the car dealership stomping up and down, but we are in are hearts and minds.
I randomly assign numbers to “life lessons” that I learn along the way. Its kind of my attempt of humorizing (I know its not a word) my flaws and mistakes. So in this case, this is Life Lesson 101: not being grateful for what you have and wishing for what others have is ENVY! And, yes, its just as ugly in adults as it is in kids!
I love it when my everyday adventure ends with a “moral”. It makes me think maybe my life is a little like the Brady Bunch after all.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” ~ Harry Ironside
I pray that I would take notice of these tendencies in my own life. I hope that can embrace the blessings that I have, and remember that life is a gift and it is full of adventure! Give me eyes to see it!