I was reading Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World and I had one of those "ah ha" moments. There was a part in the book that told this story:
There was a priest in a small parish who loved his people, and they loved him. He was doing God's work quite effectively. So effectively that two demons were assigned by Satan to pester him and try to derail his ministry. They tried every method they knew, but nothing worked. The priest seemed beyond their reach. So they called a conference with the devil. "We've done everything we can think of," they said. Then Satan offered his advice, "It's quite easy. Bring him news that the brother has been made bishop."
The demons looked at each other. It seemed too simple, but it was worth a try. Several weeks later, they gleefully returned. The priest hadn't taken the happy news of his brother's promotion well at all. The man's former joy had been turned to moping. His encouraging words turned to grumbling and gloom. In a short time, the man's vibrant ministry had been destroyed by the green worm of envy and the black cloud of disappointment. The bitter conclusion that "it's not fair".
As I read that story, I thought how very, very often this happens in life. When I focus on myself and the Lord, I'm happy. My life is exactly as it should be. It's when I turn and look at other people, and think they just might have it easier, or better than me. If I look at someone and see how easily they make new friends, and how they always seem to have something interesting to say. And then I can start to get discouraged, because I'm not like that at all. And then I could start thinking that life's just not fair. And I've gone from being happy with myself and my life, to being grumpy because things could be better--just look at her life!
I have a very dear friend, who has said a few times that if certain people can be saved and go to Heaven, she's not sure she wants to go there. This is a little more extreme than the day to day things, but I think it illustrates a good point. How often do we deprive ourselves of something because of someone else? Who would it punish if she decided she didn't want to go to Heaven because of others? Only herself.
Imagine there are two artists, who both very much enjoy painting and making beautiful art. One of the artists gets a lot of praise for their work, and everyone loves it. The other one goes along unnoticed most of the time. So the second decides that there's no reason to even paint anymore, because nobody cares anyway. They are depriving themselves of something they love, because instead of looking inward at the joy their art brings, they are looking at the credit or glory someone else is getting. And the jealousy monster rears it's ugly head. Just like the story in the beginning.
So my goal is to focus less on everybody else, and just focus on the great life God has given me. Because it is great. It may be very different from a lot of people I know. But that doesn't make it any less. Not in God's eyes, anyway.
Should I stop blogging because I'm not witty and fascinating like other bloggers? Or because compared to the hundreds who visit their blogs, I have one or two? Nope, cause I enjoy it. And that's all that matters.