Being Grateful

theif of joyPhoto Credit

About a year ago I went to a photo editing class taught by the owner of my favorite local photography studio.   Since we were going to be editing photos one of the requirements for the class was to bring your own computer.  We have a laptop but it is old and s-l-o-w and we almost never use it.  Honestly, I didn’t even know if it worked.  Plus, it didn’t have the programs on it that I needed.  There was an option to bring your desktop to the class but I really didn’t want to do that.  The thought of taking it all apart at home, hauling it all the way there, putting it together there, then doing it all over again at the end of it was just daunting.  I was actually quite anxious over what to do.  I had wanted to go to the class for quite a while and it had never worked out.  Now that I could go, I didn’t have a computer.

As the class drew closer I decided to see if I could get the laptop to work.  I charged it up and over the next few days I was able to get it running and get the programs that I needed installed on it.  It seemed to be working.

The night before the class I prayed that the laptop would work.  It sounds kind of trivial now but it felt like a big deal at the time.  I believe that God loves us and is concerned about the little details of our lives.  I had wanted to learn more about editing for a long time and this was my chance.  So, I prayed that he would help me, that the laptop would work and that I would be able to participate in the class.

When I got to the class the next morning, I plugged the laptop in, turned it on and it worked perfectly.  It didn’t seem as slow and it was performing in every way I needed it to.  I was so glad.

After being in the class awhile I started looking around at the others and their computers.  There were mostly newer computers, several with a certain glowing fruit on top which mine doesn’t have.  Almost all were much thinner and sleeker than mine and I started to feel self conscious.  I was embarrassed about my old, fat, slow computer.

After feeling embarrassed for awhile I realized how crazy that was.  Minutes earlier I had been praying that the computer would just work, that I would be able to learn what I wanted to learn and participate in the class.  Now that I had those things it wasn’t enough.  I was no longer grateful for the answer to my prayer and that my desire for so long was being fulfilled, instead I was comparing myself to those around me and feeling inferior because I conceived what they had to be greater than what I had.

It was a great learning moment for me and I’ve reflected on it many times over the last year.  When I focused on what I had and how my situation was better than I had expected, I was grateful.  As soon as I started comparing my situation to others, I felt inferior and I lost the gratitude I was feeling.  It confirms the quote above by Theodore Roosevelt, comparison really is the thief of joy.

There will always be someone better than me, smarter than me, richer than me.  I’ll never have the latest and greatest technology.  {I currently use an iphone 3 for goodness sake.}  I will always be able to find some way that I am less than someone else if that is what I’m looking for. But none of that brings joy.

If instead, I focus on my own situation; how far I’ve come, how much I have, etc, that is where the gratefulness and joy will come in.  It’s not easy to do and I fail more than I succeed but I’m going to keep trying because I want to have a life filled with joy.

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