The other day I was scrolling through social media and saw pictures of my friend as she flitted around Rome. She looked like Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday.” Hers weren’t the only pictures I saw that day to remind me that others were having a fabulous time in exotic places while I was sitting home in the Central Valley of California on a 103-degree day.
I think most of you can probably relate. We see our friends in Hawaii, Europe or St. Lucia and long for our own escape from the mundane. A friend recently posted a meme that stated: “Everyone is posting their vacation pictures, and I’m like … I went to Walmart.” Whether budget or time off is a limiting factor, an Instagram-worthy vacation may not be in your summer plans.
While vacation envy is definitely a first-world problem (even one night in a hotel is an extreme luxury in most parts of the world), the Bible has a lot to say about how envy of any kind can affect us. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” When I look at my friends’ experiences and feel an inequity to my own, it causes decay in my soul because at its core, it makes me question God’s goodness.
If you’re looking at a long summer of staying home, here are a few ways to combat vacation envy.
Unplug from social media.
The old phrase “out of sight, out of mind” holds a lot of truth. If I’m daily feeding my mind with the experiences of others, I will be prone to compare my own situation with theirs. Try taking a social media break for one week or longer. Observe how you feel during your break and what changes. (I wrote about how this experiment changed my daily life and relationships when I tried it last year.)
Rediscover your hometown.
When we first moved to California three years ago, I checked out a lot of the local tourist spots (yes, even Bakersfield has some!) such as Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace. I also enjoyed visiting unique restaurants (the Caribbean place downtown and a local Tex-Mex haunt with legendary chocolate sheet cake). A simple Google search can unearth the top attractions in your local area. If you can’t travel this summer, try checking out what your town has to offer (and why not invite someone to go with you?).
Plan a day trip.
Everywhere I’ve lived, there have been interesting places to visit within a few hours’ drive. In Pennsylvania, it was Amish country and Gettysburg. In Colorado, I could travel to beautiful mountain towns. And in California, the beach is just a few hours away. Day trips can be super-affordable (pack a lunch and all you’re out is some gas money) and feel like mini-vacations. Try planning several this summer to get out of town and break up monotony.
This is an age-old remedy to envy. Sometimes it can be hard to take Paul’s words to heart: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). But this really is the antidote to all kinds of envy. When we thank God for our own circumstances — even if they include staying home this summer — we conform to His will. Thanking God for His blessings in our lives reorients us to see His goodness and brings life.
Whether a vacation is in the plans for this summer or not, you can take a vacation from envy. Unplug, explore your surroundings and be thankful. Who knows — this could be your best summer yet!
Copyright 2019 Suzanne Gosselin. All rights reserved.