Ellen and I met a guy visiting from Scotland while we were eating at the Village Pizzeria in Hollywood. We asked him about places to visit Scotland, and he talked about how much he liked Los Angeles and wanted to live here. He liked the weather a lot more than Scotland’s where it was unpredictable even during the summer. He liked the culture, the atmosphere and the economic savings of being in Los Angeles. One of the interesting things I noticed was how his love for Los Angeles contrasted the many people I heard from who lived in L.A. and were dying to get out of it. I recalled one lady in our community group last week who voiced her desire to live in Scotland. She stated positive reasons for living there, which could’ve been paralleled to the reasons for why the Scottish guy wanted to live in L.A. Is the grass always greener on the otherside? I think we all wrestle with this mentality. I have and still do to some extent. Most would intellectually recognize that living under this view is not good. But there is an unhealthy and ungodly form of this view and yet a godly and healthy form.
To live under the notion that the-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-otherside, which most do so unconsciously, renders a life that is constantly dissatisfied. It wouldn’t matter what one has or the circumstances one was under. This view causes the person to think that whatever I have is not good enough and whatever someone else has or whatever something else can be offered is better. The problem is once that something else is attained, the feeling of discontent still remains. The grass-is-greener-on-the-otherside perspective often becomes a distraction from not only real contentment but also from purposeful living. We can miss the purpose or the calling for why we are where we are when we are caught up in longing for the grass on the otherside and feeling disgruntled about our present “grass.” The Bible teaches us to be content in all situations and circumstances, where joy is not bound up in what we have or where we are but is a quality sewn in our souls as a working of the Holy Spirit (Phi. 4:10-11, Gal. 5:25).
However, to be godly people we also need to maintain a view of the-grass-is-greener-on-the-otherside where we do look forward to something else and refuse to settle for what is. It is a godly virtue and an aspect of faith to strive for what life can become, because we realize that God not only has in store something far better for our lives in heaven but also that God desires to redeem and transform our present world. To settle merely for this grass on this side doesn’t render change. Looking for that otherside causes a forward movement in an otherwise broken world, and where there is forward movement, change has to occur. This means that a certain divine discontent has to remain in the believer of Christ (2 Corinthians 5). It is that divine discontent that reflects the heart of God. Because God envisions life to be much more than what it is, so should we.
So a harmonious tension exists in the Christian life. On the one hand, the Christian knows true joy and satisfaction that is unshakeable by circumstances, where contentment is known in any situation. But on the other hand, the Christian remains dissatisfied, realizing that life, the world and self need to be transformed into a greater vision. The difference is twofold: one, the discontentment is rooted in true joy and, two, the discontentment follows the heart of God versus insecure feelings over life. It’s easy to swing to either extreme, but doing so results in dysfunctional living. Finding harmony in this tension is the godly art of living.