On Spring Break and Jealousy

I can be a very jealous person. Spring Break reminds me of that. I get jealous seeing friends' Facebook pictures of their trip to Ireland or Mexico. I get jealous knowing friends are in Florida or have been to Virginia. I get jealous because those options aren't possibilities for us financially right now.

Last year the boys and I did a camping trip that, while without any bells and whistles--just a lot of time in state parks, was probably still more than our budget should have handled. This year we stayed for free in a cabin in Wisconsin built and owned by my wife's sister and husband who generously let us use it when it's free (this was our first time there since it has been usable). Other than the food we brought with, we didn't spend money on anything extra--no special events or activities, no restaurants. We used the snowshoes at the cabin, played in the snow (the boys enjoyed jumping off a low-height roof into the snow), reading, playing games, and relaxing.

My quiet-time nook
I was talking with a friend tonight (who had been gone last week with his family to Virginia for a Spring Break trip to historic sites) about our spring break trips. We were both reminded in our conversations to be thankful for what we have. He wasn't much into historic sites. I was envious of all the opportunities he gets to travel.

But I was also reminded that people would pay thousands of dollars to have the virtually free experience that we had. We received a gift. And I am thankful for it.

I was also aware that there is a large percentage of children in my sons' classrooms (as well as my own) that don't get to even leave Minneapolis during Spring Break. Some of them are probably home alone (or with their siblings). Some of them are at school as part of the release day options.

That's how my mind works, though, if I let it. It looks at what everyone else has who is more privileged than I feel that I am. It doesn't think about those who don't have even the opportunities that I receive. It doesn't stop to just be grateful. My mind can be dangerous sometimes. Especially if I listen to it undiscerningly.

I've got to constantly keep myself in check, otherwise I all too easily can live in my head. And while I've got a lot of good stuff in my head, it's not a good place to live. My mind can easily twist reality into fantasy. Or I can make things worse than they really are--or think I'm worse off than I really am.

My heart needs to keep my head in check (and vice versa). I need to remind myself that my life is good. That I've got plenty to be grateful for. While I may not have everything I want, I've got more than everything I need.

A view of frozen Lake Arbutus
Once again I am reminded that gratitude is the antidote. Gratitude reminds me that what I have is a gift from God. It reminds me that despite all that I feel I don't have, I still have it pretty good. As my friend reminds me, if these are my worst problems--getting several days away in a beautiful northwoods cabin--then I have it pretty well.

Indeed, I do have it pretty well. No matter what everyone else is doing. I have much to be thankful for.

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