On an unusually warm January day, the girls spent the afternoon playing in the backyard. They came running inside and called for me to come see a special cloud they had spied in the sky.
This was, of course, not an ordinary cloud. This was a cloud that they were just sure had to be a portal to another world. (Yes, we have read all the Chronicles of Narniabooks, and yes, the girls have active imaginations.) Ellie quickly says, “Mom, can you just pop us over to the other side of the fence so we can get closer?”
“No, baby, you can’t go in that field. It doesn’t belong to us.” This was, naturally, met with a wave of sad emotion, and through her sobs, “But if you don’t, we’re going to miss our chance to go through the portal!”
I, willing to help, gave a perfectly logical solution, “Baby, why don’t you go ahead and just pretend that you made it through the portal? You can pretend you are now on the other side and you can start exploring!” At this point, both daughters look up at me like I had just suggested they take a bath with their clothes on. With eyes rolling, “Mom, don’t be silly.”
Oh, I’m the silly one? You’re the ones who think if you cross this fence you will get close enough to the cloud to be able to get to another world by going through a portal in the sky?!
Then they asked, “Well, can we cross the fence and go play in the side field?” To which I replied, “Girls, why can’t you just play on the thirty acres that DO belong to us?”
Without missing a beat, Victoria responds, “You know, Mom…the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
Those two crazy girls could play absolutely anywhere on our farm. They have plenty of space to roam, but that afternoon all they wanted to do was cross the fence.
Ugh. Why is this so true?
Why do we stand right there in the middle of all that is ours, yet look longingly at the next field over?
I’m ready to enjoy the grass on my side of the fence.
What would it be like if we walked with contentment? I don’t want to miss what’s inside my fence because I’m so busy looking over it.
We can live so distracted by what isn’t ours that we miss the value in what does belong to us. We can get too focused on the gifts in other people that we miss the gifts that are within us.
It might be hard to imagine, but might I suggest that there are people who are looking over their fences at you?
Maybe we need to take some time to slow down and open our eyes - look around and notice the gifts that are all around us. Pause and look at the beauty that lies within the borders of our fence.
Sure, it’s easier to talk about the importance of being content when your field is lush and green. It’s much harder when you feel like you’re looking around at a field of dried ground - barren, and hard.
I know it’s difficult. It’s difficult to talk about contentment when you’re in a broken season. It’s hard to look around at people or things outside your fence and stay content and satisfied where you are.
But, truth is truth no matter what season we are walking in.
Whatever season we find ourselves in - He is there. Whatever season we are in, God is working it for our good.
What if we saw our fences as protection and not prison?
When we set boundaries for our children, it is for their safety and protection. We set boundaries because we can see what’s ahead, and we know things they don’t know. We ask them to simply trust us. We do this because our children are valuable beyond measure.
Our Father does the same for us. He asks us to trust Him with our whole heart.We have to trust that He sees what we cannot see, and He knows what lies ahead. He knows what we need and why we need it. He knows what each season of our life is going to hold and He knows when those seasons will change. We have to trust that we are highly loved and valued by our Father, and He will go to great lengths to protect us. There will be times that what His love and protection looks like will not make sense to us.
Psalm 16:5-6 says, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
The boundary lines He sets for us are for our good and protection. We can look around at what’s inside our fence and know that we are where we’re supposed to be, fully equipped with what we need.
Sometimes we will feel like that is true…and sometimes we will be tempted to look over the fence and feel lack. The truth is - He is our portion, we are secure, the boundary lines He has us within are for our good, and we have a delightful inheritance. Whether we can see it right now or not. Whether we feel like it or not.
But it comes so naturally doesn’t it? Selfishness, insecurity, and discontentment. I don’t want to settle for what comes naturally - I want to walk supernaturally.
I so long to trust the Lord. I want to be able to truly say, “You alone are my portion and my cup.” I want my every need to be met in Christ and Christ alone - not in material things, not in a conflict free marriage, not in perfectly behaved children.
I don’t want to be swayed by my feelings about, or my perception of, the field I find myself standing in. I want to look around, and no matter what my circumstances are telling me, be able to say, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…” Because this is truth.
It is only through life in Him that we will be ever be fully satisfied or feel secure.
On the other side of your fence are plenty of other fields. Sure, some of them may look greener to you right now, and some of them may look desolate; but contentment will greet you when you are able to look at the field you’re standing in and see the beauty that belongs to you.
Embrace where you are and the season you’re in and you might be surprised at the delightful inheritance that awaits you.
So what do you say when you’re little girl boldly states, “You know, Mom…the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
“No. No, baby girl, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Let’s go explore what’s on our side of the fence.”