When I was younger I used to see pictures in National Geographic or other places & think to my self, “Self, I bet life is perfect in that country. I bet the grass is greener, skies are bluer, and the people are happier.” I would dream of traveling across the Atlantic ocean to London, Paris, Rome, Ireland, or other countries that I’d read about & how perfect my life would be in those places. I actually didn’t even own a passport until I was 24 years old. I hadn’t even been to Mexico on a mission trip, how lame is that, EVERYONE done that!!!
My first plane ride came in 2004 when I traveled to Uganda, Africa to spend most of the summer preaching in a small village, called Kamwokya, outside the capital city of Kampala. My first experience flying, my first passport stamp, my first lost luggage. When I landed, I was amazed at how different reality was compared to what my imagination had prepared me for. What I realized was, grass is grass. No matter where you are, it looks the same. Life, is essentially the same no matter where you are. The air didn’t have a different smell, the grass felt the same on my bare feet as it did 19 hours earlier, and people were essentially the same. Sure there are differences. The quintessential culture shock that comes from being exposed to extreme poverty always takes some getting used to. Language is a challenge when you don’t speak the tribal language, and people could definitely tell I wasn’t a local. Over time I’ve added a number of stamps in my passport, some for fun, some for business. In all of the places I’ve traveled so far, I have felt a certain familiarity.
More recently my wife & I traveled to Europe for our first time. Everyone warned us about the French. “Watch out for those French people, they hate Americans,” or “Those French people are so rude!” My experience with French people was actually quite the opposite, they were actually the nicest people we met. My wife and I have actually considered moving to Paris because we felt so at home there.
Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that “life will be better there (fill in the blank with what ever idealistic place you think will be better than your current experience)” and forget that my quality of life isn’t really dependent on a location, but a state of mind. Philippians 4:11 says “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” So many times I think the grass is greener on the other side, and some times it is! But I always have to ask my self what my motives are for seeking new grass. Sometimes I just need to realize that my grass is pretty good too. Jesus also, said in Matthew 6:21 “It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” Sometimes I need to learn what & where my real treasures are, because after all grass is grass!
Here’s some of the “grass” from our Europe trip:
London & Bath England
Paris & Versailles France