Free Friday: Ever After

I pulled into the gated entry of a home where I’d been invited to attend a bridal shower and felt the familiar tug-of-war begin in my soul.

The home looked like one of the homes you might see on the cover of Architectural Digest. A half dozen or so ornately carved pillars framed a sprawling open porch that boasted more ceiling fans than I had in my entire home. I followed the curve of the brick lined driveway around a Tuscan-style triple-tiered stone fountain with arches of water cascading from every level.

I sighed heavily as I parked my pre-owned minivan with a hail-damaged hood in between two luxury SUV’s. I immediately regretted the decision my husband and I had made to pocket the insurance money rather than repair the damage.

As I exited my car, I caught a glimpse of the fast food wrappers that had accumulated in the floorboard and the stickers on the back window that had now become a permanent sun-baked feature, compliments of my toddler. Sigh. My car looked better suited in the back of the house parked beside the vehicles of the hired help.

What was I doing in this neighborhood?

As I walked up the front steps, I felt uncomfortable and out of place. These are not my people. The mansion stood in stark contrast to my cookie-cutter track house in a master planned starter home community. I was glad my little urchins weren’t with me. They would have assumed the home was a fancy hotel and the fountain was a fancy kiddie pool and probably stripped down to take a swim.

I sighed heavily as I walked up the limestone steps to the front door. If I felt out of place before I entered the home, I knew my discomfort level was going to be off the charts when I walked through the front door. The shower was come-and-go and I briefly considered ringing the doorbell and tossing my present into the foyer and making a quick get-away.

When I walked back into my home later that day, I took one look at the potpourri of mismatched living room furniture, the stained accent rug from sippy cup spills and the collage of toddler hand print smudges on the walls and felt yet another wave of discontentment. My visit to the upscale neighborhood across town had triggered an episode of fairytale letdown and walking into my home only made it worse.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last time I struggled with fairytale letdown. Over the years, I would find myself comparing my prince to other princes, my children to other children, and myself to other women. I pinned my “happily-ever-after” on a sugar-coated version of reality and when reality didn’t measure up to my fairytale expectations, a letdown would occur.

Today, I realize that the fairytale pursuit is a worldly pursuit. In 1 John, the apostle John issues a warning about chasing after worldly desires:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father in not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. —1 John 2:15-17

Interestingly, the Greek word for “eyes” in the passage above is “ophthalmos,” which is where we get our English word “ophthalmology.” The word is defined in the Greek as “vision or envy from the jealous side-glance.” (1) The passage is not implying it is a sin to enjoy worldly things, but rather, it is a sin to worship worldly things.

As I think back on my struggle with fairytale letdown over the years, it was almost always triggered by what began as a simple “jealous side-glance.” True happiness is found when we set our minds on the things that are above (Col. 3:2) and make Christ our ultimate, primary affection.

The next time you find yourself suffering from an episode of fairytale letdown, take a minute to reorder your affections. Happily-ever-after is a choice to look up rather than … look around.

Want to win an Ever After small group kit (leader kit + five member books)? Follow the instructions below!

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Vicki Courtney is an author and speaker with a ministry that reaches more than 150,000 people a year through events, books, and online resources. Vicki has done hundreds of radio and newspaper interviews and appeared on CNN, Fox News, and CNN Headline News as a youth culture commentator to address various issues impacting tweens and teens. Vicki’s new Bible study, Ever After, is available now.

Comments

  1. Carrie Seggelke says

    So often we forget stuff is just stuff. We assume others have better stuff. I would love to do this study to put our hope in the eternal!

    • Kay says

      I think we’ve all struggled with thinking someone else has the perfect or ideal life and not realized the blessings we have. What a wonderful study topic.

  2. michelle says

    This is such a tough one. I can completely identify with the struggle of not pinning all our dreams and desires on earthly things. It’s a daily one.

  3. Tammy says

    I really needed to read this today! So many times I get that “green-eyed” monster popping up and wanting stuff that other’s have.

  4. Serena says

    I sometimes find it hard to remember that things are just things and that we are called to be in the world but not of the world… I would love to get this study :)

  5. Megan H. says

    My husband and I love to give, and we’re trying to teach that to our kids. Also, just being thankful and content with what we have makes pursuing worldly items less attractive.

  6. Dawn R. says

    We all live in a world of more. But when is more “too much”. I am learning to use up what I have and not need to have more. More really is less.

  7. Sherrell Gay says

    After surviving 2 heart transplants, I really know that “things” are not what life is about…I try to accept God’s daily blessings for what they are…

  8. Kristin Gaither says

    Pray! I pray and ask God to help me be content with what I have. It also helps to give. For me, when I will just stop and give to others (even something as simple as a card), I feel so much joy! It helps eliminate those pity parties of discontentment!

  9. Lori Stinnett says

    This an area I really struggle. One of the things I started doing is volunteering feeding the homeless once a week. I have been doing this for a little over a year. This definitely helps me put things in prospective and make you realize what little value things of this world have.

  10. Gloria Hardee says

    So many of us, especially women, feel we have to compete with others. We want our children to have the “things” their friends have. We want them to have more than we did growing up. This only teaches them to want the world and not seek God.

  11. Ellen Pollock says

    I struggle with trying to do it all! it is really easy to get caught up with our mini “gods” and forget about what we are really called to do as followers of Christ. I have to stay connected with people who hold me accountable, I have to stay in study of God’s word, and I have to constantly keep my eyes on Jesus.

  12. says

    Thank you for this! I plan to pick up this study next week at the Forum (if I don’t win it) because I’m confident I’m supposed to share it with someone…and complete it myself, too!

  13. Lynn White says

    I continually strive for contentment and focusing on my assignments for this season, not my desires (which are generally worldly things). I firmly believe my top priority is raising my son. However, some days I feel consumed with ambition to achieve in other areas. I have to constantly remind myself that there is a season for everything and I must stay focused on today. It’s a near daily struggle, but the Word and affirming Bible studies help!

  14. Rachelle Sheumaker says

    Some days I feel like I didn’t sign up for whatever trouble is presenting itself that day. That is definitely keeping my eyes are worldly things rather than learning whatever it is God is trying to teach me. I would love to read the book and share it with others in a small group.

  15. Angela Loven says

    Godliness with contentment can be so hard! I have been here many times over the last four years especially. We haave lived in transition and that it is hard when we want to put down roots and be secure. I have to ask the Holy Spirit to help me to keep my heart pure and right!

  16. Elizabeth Rasper says

    Sometimes it is so hard to live in this world and not pursue the things of the world . I always try to remember that what I do and say is reflected in my kids. How can I tell them not to watch that of listen to that if I am not doing the same . I need to not just talk the talk but walk it and live if everyday!

  17. Denice Weatherholt says

    I try to remember that I am so blessed and I might not have everything everyone else has, but I have what I need to live a comfortable live.

  18. Shantel Anderson says

    This is such a big struggle for everyone but especially women! I find when I get caught up I have to pray and refocus on the things I do have!

  19. Karen says

    This looks like a perfect bible study for all ages that have a fairy tale thinking, I think all girls(including me) have a little of this.

  20. Rita says

    I know that God wants the best for us. We each need to define what that looks like for us and why we want it. God wants to bless us and wants us to be happy. It’s hard not to compare ourselves because that is what we have been taught our whole lifetime. It starts with parents comparing us to our brothers/sisters, then in school our grades/accomplishments are compared to the other students, and in the work place we are compared to our co-workers, as parents we are compared to other parents, the list goes on and on. So, how do we get past this?

  21. Bridget says

    It’s a struggle to not want to pursue the things of this world. I think my best efforts to stay content is to stay connected to God…stay in His Word, in prayer and in fellowship with other believers. When jealousy or desire for stuff rears up, I sometimes have to just shake myself and remember that I’m greatly blessed already.

  22. Amanda says

    It is really a struggle to live in the world but not get caught up in the things of the world. I try to turn my focus to Jesus and remember that I am suppose to be storing up treasures in heaven not on earth. The things of this earth will not last. There is so much more joy in serving others and not working about serving ourselves.

  23. Mary Ann Holton says

    Over the years, I have experienced the fairytale letdown.
    As my faith life matures, the less important keeping up with the
    Jones’ is. Sounds like a great study!

  24. Laura says

    Staying in God’s Word, praying a lot, worshiping, looking to Him for satisfaction and approval rather than the world or others…….a continual battle.

  25. krystal says

    Its hard to not get caught up in this world. I just try to keep God at the forefront of my mind and continually be in prayer. I would love to do this study.

  26. Dianna Sharpe says

    I try to stay focused on the things of God, listening to Christian music and watching what I read and watch.Keeping my eyes on Him helps me to get through whatever the day brings.

  27. says

    What a great reminder! God is our fairy tale ending, but we are often looking for something else that better fits our wants or expectations. Winning this study would be a huge blessing to women’s ministry at my church. Thanks for your generosity and for encouraging us to follow Christ!

  28. Vicky Kawamae says

    This sounds like a good study to remind us where our priorities are to be in. The eternal. Life on Planet Earth will all too soon be over and my eternal home in Heaven will be forever.

  29. nancy owen says

    It’s slightly easier now that I’m in my 50’s to be content with what I have, but when I do feel “the world” wooing me, I try to stop, pray and ask God to take away the desire to want more or buy the next best thing on the market. He has been faithful to take my focus off the worldly things and put Him first.

  30. Miranda Marsh says

    This study is so down to earth and I think I can easily identify with all that is talked about! Would love to win this:)

  31. Brandee Loftis says

    These verses in 1 John are some of my favorite. It is so easy to compare and I would love to win this study to start the new year with the Bible study group in my home.

  32. Gail says

    I have never studied with the author but this seems like a study that would be pertinent for out Ladies Wednesday Night Bible study. We so need to focus on the spiritual instead of what the world has to offer.

  33. Mary T says

    Your post reminded me of my younger years when I never felt that I was as pretty as other girls. I suffered from comparison issues until I “grew up” and learned that I am who I am created by the Great I AM! I never spent (or spend) anytime thinking about the material things. I grew up simply with what I needed. I never went without necessities but my parents were frugal and lived within their budget. Having a smaller house or used cars or hand me down clothes, even used mismatched furniture made no difference to me. I am grateful for all that I have. I am very active in community groups, volunteer organizations and advocating for children and their families. I know that I may not have the same clothes or cars or home, but I have a greater gift and that is the gift of God’s love for me, confidence in His plans and purpose for my life, the gift of faith and trust in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the comfort and counsel of His Holy Spirit. I know I have many failings and weaknesses but my hope is in the Lord. I thank God every day as many times a day as I can for my life! All glory and praise to my Triune God!

  34. Theresa Haskins says

    You have NO IDEA how perfectly timed this post was – God NEVER ceases to amaze me!!!! Normally, I don’t fall in this trap, but today, I did. Long story short, I dropped my daughter off at a friend’s home and it was GORGEOUS!!! Don’t get me wrong, we are extremely blessed, but not THAT blessed! I was truly envious. Your post reminds me that worldly “treasures” are not treasures at all! My Jesus is MY TREASURE always!

    I would love to win this leaders kit too! I have had the pleasure to meet Vicki in person (not to mention use her materials with teen girls). I happen to have two of them myself! I KNOW those I share it with would be blessed beyond belief!

    Thank you so much for the post and the opportunity!

  35. KarenMO says

    This study sounds like one our group would enjoy, and I’m pretty sure that each of us can relate to the subject of the study. Thanks for letting us try to win this study!

  36. Kay says

    Being content and complete in Christ and not envying or wanting the “perfect” life that we think others have is a great study topic.

  37. Danielle Love says

    Anytime I think that I would love to have that nice big house on the hill, I imagine the homeowner saying to me how they would love to give me that nice big bill that comes along with it. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

  38. Angie Miller says

    When I start “comparing” I have to think about all God has blessed me with: health, husband, kids, etc. Some people don’t even have that.

  39. Jada S. says

    By getting up EVERY day & surrendering to Gods will. Daily, many times a day, I ask him to turn my eyes from worthless things to find life only in His word. It’s changed my family!

  40. Gretchen Miller says

    When I struggle with wanting the things of the world I need to refocus on God’s blessings and provision and spend time in His Word!

  41. says

    I LOVED this post! I used to be that girl, the one who would turn a not-so-lovely shade of green as I coveted huge homes with winding staircases. Through Christ I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself in. As you can tell, Paul’s Holy Spirit inspired writings have impacted me in a major way. I am thankful; I am content and thankful. I’ve realized I can admire beautiful things, I can rejoice in the blessings of others, and my God shall supply my every need according to His riches and glory through Christ Jesus. I’m no longer storing up treasures on earth. Earthly treasures are temporal, so now I focus on what’s eternal. Love my Jesus, my family, my ministry, and my modest home. Besides, I have a mansion in Heaven that I won’t have to vacuum :)

  42. Jennifer B says

    Keeping my radio tuned into Christian music, reading the Bible, doing Bible studies, reading daily devotionals in my email…these things keep me grounded…Kingdom minded not earthly minded. It isn’t always easy but when I inundate myself with these things, I am better off!

  43. Dori Fraser says

    When I become aware of my thoughts careening into comparisonville I force my thoughts to gratitude instead. It is so tough in this age of Facebook & Pinterest to feel like we are enough- that our kids, families, jobs, neighborhoods are as good as everyone else. I would love a chance to squash this in me for good.

  44. says

    This would be a great study to do with my mom’s small group. Such a pertinent topic. I would love to have the opportunity to do this study having never done one of hers.

  45. Kim says

    Even as “sure” we are of God’s gifts to us, seeing others with more does get upsetting or hurtful. How we need to remember things are material!!

  46. Kelly Jenkins says

    While we’re living in this world, it’s vital to remember WHO we’re living for. Are my actions (including how I spend my money) honoring HIM or me?

  47. Shelley Vaught says

    This happened to me this morning. Only it wasn’t a house or vehicle that caused me to feel “less-than-adequate”, it was an outfit! I took extra care to tame my frizzy tresses and stood in the closet longer than usual trying to find that perfect Sunday outfit. You know the one. It is the outfit that you have not worn in a while and that makes you look slimmer than you actually are. It is the outfit that you are comfortable in because it makes you feel good about yourself and exudes confidence. I thought I found it. I thought I had hit a home run this morning. But as I slipped into my pew at church, I saw her coming. She was beautiful! Her hair was perfect with beautiful highlights and not a frizzy in sight! Her outfit was amazing and obviously from a specialty boutique. She was completely put together from her flaxen blonde tresses to her stunning boots! Suddenly I found myself feeling “dowdy” when I should have been feeling like a princess preparing to worship her Father, The King! He doesn’t care that my clothes are less than the worlds standard of stylish. But He does care that I was in His House with His People to worship Him!

  48. Heather Montz says

    We were talking this morning about being thankful for what we have already been blessed with instead of complaining about the “wants” of life.

  49. says

    This resonates with me as I balance being a business owner, serving through several ministries, and starting a ministry of my own. How do I balance getting my name out there without making it about me? How do I charge for services that the next day i will give away through a different ministry? How do I place a value on what I am doing without making it about the money? It’s complicated – it’s simple. I spend a lot of time in prayer and focus my attention on the Who and less on the what. One day at a time, sweet Jesus!

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