other side of the fence When I wake up each morning, I usually feel angry. I’m not exaggerating. Three or four days a week I wake up with a sense that my soul is drowning, like I’m 300 feet beneath the ocean surface, on the fringe of complete darkness.

I can see a place without anger. I can vaguely see some light, but I don’t know how to get to it. I can’t swim. I can’t move.

But my anger isn’t motionless. No. Not at all. The anger moves like an ocean current, from my head to my heart, repeatedly lapping against my heart, replenishing the old anger with fresh anger like waves depositing sand on a beach.

Sometimes I feel angry because I didn’t sleep well or I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted. And then I get angrier for feeling angry about something like that.

Sometimes my morning anger is the “fault” of the dog next door, which began barking at 5:30 a.m., or the Harley that roared down the street two hours earlier. Sometimes my anger is directed at my wife because … well, because she’s not angry.

Calling me stupid is being kind.

When I analyze my anger, I think I’m angry because things are expected of me, which means I’m angry because I’m insecure. My anger is the mask my fear wears.

Essentially, I want to escape. I want to escape expectations. I want to escape responsibility. I want to escape to the joy I see here.

I want the joy I experience when I talk to believers in the developing world. It’s strong and pure. It overflows. It’s valued. And it’s shared generously.

I envy how these believers relate to people and to God. I want what they have. And I suspect they want what I have.

But in that, both of us have it wrong. We’re indulging ourselves, indulging our brokenness. And we’re sinning.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” — Exodus 20:17 (NIV), emphasis added

The sweet grass on my side of the fence comes with bitter blades in it. The comfort and luxury on my side of the fence can’t deliver what someone else is missing or longing for. And I’m overlooking the real hardships Africans encounter in tending the grass growing on their side of the fence, in extreme poverty.

Joy and hope are everywhere in life, but they’re not to be found in the “green grass” of others. They’re not to be found in money or possessions. They’re not to be found in dreams of escape. They’re only to be found in our Lord.

As sponsors, we’re cultivating joy and hope in the lives of the children we support … even if we’re coveting someone’s green grass at the same time. Through sponsorship I’m fighting the weeds in my grass while also fertilizing the grass on the other side of the fence. The grass is no longer mine or theirs, it’s ours.

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  1. Chrissy
    Jul 19, 2010
    at 7:26 am

    I needed this today. Thank you.

  2. Jul 19, 2010
    at 10:40 am

    Or as my favorite saying goes.. “The grass is greener.. where you water it.”

  3. Lindy
    Jul 19, 2010
    at 4:00 pm

    Thanks, Chris! My husband and I really appreciated your honesty and your excellent thoughts!

  4. Jul 20, 2010
    at 6:40 am

    Wow – Chris, what a profound statement. You know you have a good point.

    “I want the joy I experience when i talk to believers in the developing world.” I heard that! Although they have such hardship, their lives are often filled with such joy, and such love. Perhaps BECAUSE they have such hardship. And typically their are a little bit less smothered with the material in this world, simply because they have so much less of it.

    Their lives are often just filled with family, relationships with others, dedication to work, and a strong sense of faith in the God who created them and will sustain them. What a testimony.

    But you make a good point – it doesn’t honor God for me to covet that aspect of their lives. It honors God for me to seek him with the same fervor and passion that they do DESPITE all the tanglings of the material prosperity and “freedom” that I live in. I ought to focus on Him alone, and that’s where I will find that same joy.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Helen
    Jul 24, 2010
    at 4:02 pm

    Wow !!!! I really needed this today !! Love your comment, Julie M.
    Joel, love your insight too. It is just horrible what materialism does to some peoples lives.

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