The Myth of More


You couldn’t miss it.

The sign was posted on every entrance, on every post, sure to be noticed from whichever direction you arrived at the gate.
Please do not pick the vegetables and flowers from the garden, as they are for the restaurant.
Despite the sketchy grammar {the grammar-girl in me would have worded it a little differently}, the sentiment was perfectly understandable, of course. 

The garden can't be plundered by wandering tourists when a chef needs a handful of basil or a fresh tomato for a culinary creation.

But the message was clear.



What you see here is for someone else, not you. 

Peering through the slatted gate into a protected little garden patch is a little like observing the lives of those with more blooms on their vines  - - or more happiness, purpose and abundance in their lives. 

{Or so it seems.}

I think I’ve fallen for this myth. 

The myth that I need more of something in my life that I don’t have right now for me to be happy and satisfied and live the abundant life Jesus talked about in the Bible.

When it seems as if so many others around me have more, I wonder what I'm missing.



{Maybe you do too?}

Maybe you’d be happy with more time, more peace, more friendships, more money, more inspiration.

Or maybe it’s not more of some-thing, but it’s the one-thing that you don’t have.

Like a spouse, a baby, a home, or a job.

I fall for this false impression more often than I'd care to admit. It's the misconception that somebody else’s life looks a lot better than mine does. 

But maybe that's because I'm looking at it through slats that slant my view.



If Facebook and Instagram are my only mirrors, then those thoughts are probably justified. 

Everywhere I look are photos of beautiful children, exotic locations, amazing food, and extraordinary friends.

These carefully curated photos are accompanied by superlatives that magnify the lens of happiness for those of us looking. Bestie! This guy - - isn't he amazing? These kids! 

Sure, they’re just clever captions on social media, but they can drive me a little batty when I think about staging photos to tell the story of my super-long workday at the computer, salad-for-one eaten over my kitchen sink, and weekend errands to nowhere.

My head knows things aren’t necessarily what they seem, but my heart feels otherwise.



So I turn my thoughts {and my view} to what's in my own little garden and I think about being grateful.

I first imagine scenes of my life filled with all that I think I’m lacking. I think realistically about these scenarios. 

What would my days look like with a husband or kids or a full house and a fuller schedule?

Are they really as captivating as they look? How would I feel if things were different? 

And when I contemplate how my life would look if I did have what I think I'm missing, I start thinking that my life is pretty nice just the way it is.



That salad-by-the-sink? It's quick and easy, giving me time for writing, reading, praying and thinking without having to create and cook a nightly dinner menu.

The workday at the computer? It beautifully pays the bills and I'm so thankful for all the opportunities that an income provides. {Not to mention my travel budget!}

The weekend errands that seem dull and a little lonely? They're just my speed and style for how I like to relax after the workweek.

My days, my years, my story may be different from those that fill my social media streams but I’m living this one beautifully crafted story of my own and it suits me. 



So despite the sign {since it didn't prohibit entering}, I opened the gate and walked into the vegetable and herb garden anyway, just to have a look around. 

I had no intention of picking a flower, vegetable, or even a leaf. 


But truthfully, the garden looked a little dead to me. I saw lots of brown stalks and a few green things here and there, but it looked as if it needed some tending to. 


I wasn't sure if it was supposed to look this way since it was fall, or if maybe it wasn't quite the robust, blossoming garden that the sign implied.


Maybe appearances are a little deceiving sometimes.


I walked right back out the gate, without the faintest desire to pick anything.





I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Join me there for more posts from my blogger friends!




Comments

  1. Valerie, I loved your post! Such great analogies with the garden. I think you and the apostle Paul are going to get along quite fabulously in heaven! You seem to have mastered the 'being content in all things' Paul talked about. I know we never completely master something, but you speak from a calm resolve. I'm glad you see the benefits to your single life and are using them to make a greater impact with your writing. Have a blessed day!
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

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    1. Hi Sherry,
      Thank you so much for your very kind words, and some days I see more clearly than others! (Isn't it always that way?!) I wish I had the calm resolve you mention on days when comparison comes calling but I have to remember that letting those thoughts take root deadens the spirit and joy in life! :)

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  2. So much good stuff to think about here!! After the past few weeks, I've actually been doing my own little FB fast of sorts... trying to curb my online time. And well worth it, as it got me focused on what's right in front of me and I actually enjoyed making lasagna and cookies and a little bit of nesting this past weekend ;) I've heard the saying that the grass isn't greener on the other side- it's greener where you water it. My spirit is buoyed to read how you're doing just that- sometimes all it takes is a shift in perspective-- a glimpse on the other side of the fence to take stock and listen and realize all the blessings we already have instead of longing for more. Last night I was reading Jesus' words to remain in Him- he is the vine and we are the branches. We can't grow and bear fruit without him. We can't graft ourselves to any other plant and expect to grow either. He is such a careful gardener always ready with all the things at the right time and in the right season to bless us. Thankful for you friend and looking forward to growing in God's grace with you. ♥

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    1. Heather,
      I love it -- a FB fast! And your words are beautiful here. If only I had elaborated a bit more on the focus of God being our gardener and pruning us for the purpose and work he does in our lives, but you, my friend, said it for me in a much more lovely way than I could have! xoxo

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  3. This is a wonderful post. As usual.
    I think sometimes that other people do have things that we would like. I'm just being honest. But it is in our lack of those things that actually could make our lives easier to live that we experience God. I mean if a few things shifted in our lives some things might be not- so challenging. But it's like the rock we get thrown against that makes us cling to God. It reminds me of Leah in the Bible. She had legitimate dreams and was denied things that would be challenging for us all. But she decided to praise God anyways with the birth of Judah. I think lack sometimes is the thing that tethers us to God. And everyone has it.
    Love U Valerie.

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    1. Hi Somer,
      I just read something about Leah recently that said she didn't get what she wanted in life -- a husband who loved her -- but she was the woman that God chose to be part of the line that brought Jesus into the world and that is a beautiful redemption story! Yes, lack is what keeps us close to God's heart -- you've said it beautifully! xoxo

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  4. Valerie, the fact that you are willing to share the "one beautifully crafted story" that you are living with us here is a true blessing! Thank you, my friend, for demonstrating and communicating grace and contentment so faithfully. :-)

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    1. Lois,
      Thank your for your encouragement -- I'm truly grateful for your words! xo

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  5. I love your posts about fulfillment, they are so... fulfilling! These kinds of posts remind me to consider what it would actually be like if things were different, which is more important than wistfully thinking of what I am missing!

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    1. Brittany,
      Wistful thinking - that aptly describes what happens when my thoughts get carried away to a place I think is much greener than my own garden patch! :)

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  6. Your title said it all, more is a myth. Enjoyed your photos and the 'surprise' ending to the garden story. Beautifully told, my friend.

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    1. Debby,
      There are quite a few myths that are worth debunking, aren't there?! Thanks friend, for your encouragement!

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  7. Comparison can be such a thief of joy in our own "beautifully crafted story," can't it? But again, such a wonderful analogy you've given us, Valerie. I love the warmth of gratitude in the way God is taking you. Because of God's plan, you give us so much food for our souls. Because all of us are struggling in some way, missing what we want so much, and trying to be thankful for what we have. My heart aches for you as I know it must be so hard when you see all those beautiful pictures of husbands and kids. But like you said, things aren't always as they seem. Sometimes behind the gate, things are sad and barren or tangled with weeds. Thank you for encouraging me today to find the beauty in what we have but also the beauty in what we don't have. Blessings and hugs!

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      No matter how hard we try to appreciate and enjoy what's in front of us, somehow our attention gets captured by lesser things, doesn't it? Our journeys take us to places we don't expect to find ourselves and it's a true gift when we realize that maybe that's where we should have been along! After settling into a way of life -- yet always open to a change -- there are still things to be learned, new paths to take and new hope to be found! xoxo

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  8. Oh my goodness there is so much truth in this! What seems to be full of satisfaction is not satisfying at all. The garden is dry on the other side. Tending to our own gardens, especially the one within us, in our minds, hearts, and soul plugged into the Source that is never lacking, is where complete satisfaction lies. I sure wouldn't mind having an ocean beach closer though. Lol! Great post Valerie. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Lynn,
      You DO need a sandy beach and wide ocean closer to you and I know you're considering making a move, which is always exciting! :) I love what you wrote about tending to the gardens in our souls -- yes! That is where true beauty lies, connected to God as our source, just as you said! xo

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  9. Hi Valerie, I loved the virtual walk with you through the garden that was on the other side of the gate. It's so true isn't it, that the view through the shadowy fence can be so vague and incomplete? But what is it in our nature that is drawn to peer through those gates? I am glad that the one gate through which we really long to see will fulfill ALL of our desires, when we finally step into eternity! Thank you for stirring up such beautiful thoughts in my heart today! Blessings and Hugs!

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      There's so much to appreciate in gardens (as I know how you love them!) and they are so interesting to explore -- what grows, what doesn't, what gets choked out by weeds. It's clear why all of life started in a garden so long ago! There's soil for never-ending wonder! xo

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  10. Valerie,
    I love how you took us on a journey of your heart and how in the end, you chose faith over sight (2 Cor. 5:7) and gratitude over grumbling. It's a hard choice but you made it beautifully and honestly. Thank you :-) May God continue to bless you with abundant hope and joy. You inspire me :-)

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    1. Dolly,
      Thanks for being here! It's hard to avoid the questions and grumbling and I don't do it very well, but I'm so grateful there's always plenty of grace to cover it! xo

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  11. P.S. And you're right, it is a myth, but one the enemy of our soul wants us to believe. Thank you for fighting back with truth and grace :-)

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  12. I really enjoyed your post. It is very easy to fall for the myth that others have it better than us. Even, as you say, when we know in our heads that it's not true, it's easy for our feelings to say otherwise. Changing our perspective and thinking of reasons to be grateful makes a big difference. I love how you wove it all in with the story of the garden.

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    1. Hi Lesley,
      So glad you're here! Gardens are such interesting places to consider the mysteries of life, aren't they? :)

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  13. Hi Valerie- I love the veggie pictures- makes me want to get out my pencils! I wonder if you make cards ever with your photographs? They would be beautiful! I fall so easily into just what you haven written about- I have to stay off Facebook because it usually gets me down. I have a very bad habit of comparing and that accompanied with my glass half empty views always lands me in places and moods that aren’t so happy! I have found gratitude and giving thanks such great ways to get out of that pit too! Trusting Jesus and believing he has loving plans for my life is something I am still growing in. Receiving the portion he has given me as is- is hard to do unless I believe He is all good and is looking out for me. This was just great- Love how you see Jesus in all you do! sending hugs xox

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    1. Hi Susie,
      I have a few friends who create cards from their photos and that does sound like a fun idea -- choosing paper, photos -- I like that kind of art! :) I have such mixed feelings about Facebook - -seeing the good and not-so-good, and maybe it's because we didn't grow up with it, that we have such mixed feelings? Although you might say the same about blogs -- look at my site, here's what I think! It's rather a conundrum, don't you think? :) I think we have to trust that God has our good in mind or we lose heart and hope! xo

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  14. Slats that slant my view. Oh don't they ever! (Looking at you, Facebook.)
    I think you have a perfect life, because it is perfect for you!

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    1. Sarah,
      What an intriguing idea on the idea of perfection! :)

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  15. your perspective has touched me tonight, friend. thank you for your transparency, your grateful heart, your magical images. each and every week there's a sweet cause for pause here.

    i'm so thankful to do life with you, even from afar ...

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    1. Hi Linda,
      Especially during this time of year, I'm counting you as one of my blessings on this blogging journey! xo

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  16. I think I said this before but there is a verse I recently read basically stating that He leads those who are godly and looks at every detail of our lives. there is also of course the verse in psalm 139 where He has written down every single one of our days. So apparently we have a God who cares about every detail of our lives and they are mapped out perfectly for us exactly. I love that idea! But I also know that I too have those thoughts wishing I had something different from what God has lovingly put together for me. Blah discontentment! I really hope you are well. Like I said last week it really seems like you are contemplating life which makes me So excited to see what God will continue to do. Cheering you on! Hope your weekend goes well

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    1. Kristina,
      Thanks for cheering me on -- your encouragement is the sweetest part of this blogging adventure! xo

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  17. I understand what you are saying here, friend. I know for my season in life, it is important to capture the happy moments so I can remind myself in the hard ones that "this too shall pass and there will be brighter days." I wasn't doing that for a long time and would just grumble at other's happy. It was a real case of the Scrooge McDuck!!! LOL. I feel you too about the other parts, the quick meals, the things we think aren't worth sharing because they aren't as pretty. I guess I am drawn to both because I have always desired a real perspective on life, not to be in a bubble, and also to see we are not alone in the hard and the mundane. I love your heart and how you take your everyday coming and going and can turn into a story about how God is working in it. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Valerie. You are so awesome that I am trying not to be jealous that your not MY aunt. LOL

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    1. Hi Meg,
      Thanks so much for your thoughts and encouragement! I love seeing behind the story -- looking for what's not seen because so much of our lives are filled with things that are not quite what we think, aren't they? xo

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  18. Hi Valerie! I've been saving this post in my inbox for awhile so I could read without rushing. What a great way you have of applying everyday life to the spiritual. It makes me look forward to each post you share. The myth of more. My husband and I have been thinking a lot about how much we have at this stage in our lives (possessions mostly) but how little it really means in view of eternity. Hubby just said the other day, "Where is the abundant life God promises? Why so much pain?" All the pretty pictures I post on my social media pages tell nothing of family addictions, mental illness, physical disease, etc. No matter what things appear to be looking in from the outside, we all have painful "stuff" behind closed doors. Human nature is so funny, always wanting the better thing when we may just be in the middle of the best thing God could have for us. Thanks friend.
    Patti

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    1. Hi Patti,
      I'm always so delighted to see you here! Oh how right you are about how much we have means so little in eternity (as those years get closer and closer!) Yes, I think we miss a lot when we keep looking beyond what God has for us right now, in the moment, just where we are! xo

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