"You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound." Psalm 4:7
Ah, the teaching year is over, and I can make time for contemplation, reading, and writing. My year was the best one yet; it first started with anger and grief over exclusion of children with learning disabilities, but it ended with purpose and plans to counter this in my school. Change currents have been released; God is working. I was able to let go and grow even closer to my students, nurturing them, giving to them, loving them. Although I had a bit of resentment for their and parents' inability to give much back, I've grown in my ability to just give without thinking or expecting. Typically, a person like me, a recovering codependent too, gives more, and that's just that. As a matter of fact, I must guard against giving, but I follow my heart much and give -- this year, I monitored my expectations of what people return and why I gave. I tried to be very mindful of that and was, thus, not full of resentment but just happily gave. It worked out fairly well, and I have such fond memories of loving and nurturing my students this year and receiving love back, especially from the wonderful senior class. I will miss those students!
I'm finally through with Job in my reading and have entered, thankfully, into Psalms. The above verse jumped out at me. Last night, we went to our neighbor's house; they wanted us to come over to see their new patio and remodeling. Just one house over, we saw the difference between those who spend money on their living comfort and us, who save our money more than spend it. I saw the beautiful pots, plants, water pool, lights, outdoor seating, and when we went through their house, I saw the lovely attention, care, new fixes that their interior had. I came home with desire to spend our own money; I came home looking critically around me.
It's such human nature to compare what we have with someone else. If someone who is poorer came to my house, they would feel inferior too. I truly despise that inside of us we can easily become unhappy for what we don't have or to showcase to others what we do have. In the United States, we love to show what our money can buy.
I know our neighbors lack faith, and the man thinks it's a bunch of nonsense. And, even though he sat in comfort, we realized he was getting soused in front of us. How often does that happen with his collection of fine wines and beers? We heard details of trips, things, but nothing higher. Their focus was on what their money could buy. I am tempted by that too. I came home dissatisfied with the little money we spend. I envied them and their carefree but comfortable lifestyle. Yet I know I must see beyond -- into their greater need. I don't want to say that I have something of greater value for the sake of comparing and making myself feel good. Rather, I want to know what is truly valuable and hold it dear to my heart -- so as I read Psalms this morning, this verse helped me focus on why one should eschew material pleasures as the end-all, be-all.
Grateful. May I not be judgmental, Lord, but discerning as to where true joy really resides. May my neighbors also be aware. May we live for you and others rather than for ourselves. May we grasp your true joy which only you can give. Amen.