It’s alright for you…

It’s alright for you…

It’s alright for you…

by Dave Carter
4th August 2020

People have had very different experiences of lockdown. Our ability to live, thrive or survive during this season is affected by social situation, finances, family, health as well as many other things. The country you live in makes a huge difference. In some nations there has been money to fund huge efforts in health service provision, whereas in others the resources haven’t been available. The furlough scheme in the UK has provided financial stability for millions of households out of government funding. In other countries they haven’t had this option, and people have faced the choice of working to provide for their families vs protecting their health.

To quote Rick Warren:

“We may all be in the same storm but we’re not all in the same boat”

Mostly we tend to just notice the differences closest to home. Right now, I’m not looking in detail as to the rights and wrongs of that, just acknowledging that we tend to be most aware of the situations of the people we’re in contact with. Over time, those differences tend to have a cumulative effect on our perceptions of each other. We’re more and more aware that the challenges of the recent season have varied from person to person, and I’m starting to see something unhealthy creep into people’s conversation. It starts with a simple phrase that can sound innocent but has a hugely detrimental effect:

It’s alright for you…

The end of that thought tends to vary depending on what we feel we’ve most endured and what we feel others haven’t had to deal with. This leads to opposite thoughts from different people, both with the same root of dissatisfaction.

Ask yourself if you’ve heard or thought any of the following:

  • “It’s alright for you, you don’t have kids to look after at home.”
  • “It’s alright for you, you’ve got kids at home to keep you company!”
  • “It’s alright for you, you got furloughed and had a nice break.”
  • “It’s alright for you, you were able to keep working and it gave you something to do!”

At the heart of this thinking is unhealthy comparison to others, and a presumption that we know what others have been through. (Which of course is much easier than what we had…) There is also an element of jealousy that infiltrates our thinking and makes us envious of others. It is easy from this point to stop thinking the best of our friends and colleagues and to veer into self-pity. In the end we’re looking to justify ourselves by making it look like we’ve worked harder to overcome greater obstacles than others.

Ironically, our friends and colleagues are often looking at us and having similar thoughts where they think they’ve got it tougher. (The ignorant fools! If only they knew…)

I believe that a key enemy tactic is to sow disunity and bitterness, and that unhealthy comparison is one of the ways into that. It saps our joy and makes us less loving towards others. At least it can do, unless we see it coming and do something about it.

So what do we do about it?

There’s no one-size fits all approach to this, but there are some good general principles we can apply.

  1. Be deliberately thankful. Take time to thank God for what he has provided and for how he has blessed you. It’s an antidote to bitterness.
  2. Celebrate good things in your friends’ lives. Choosing to rejoice when others experience blessing helps us not fall into jealousy and strengthens our friendships.
  3. Ask people “what has been hard for you?” Rather than assume that they’ve got it easier than you and that life is a bed of roses, actually communicate. You may realise there are things you never knew.
  4. Having asked point 3, do not follow up with a tale of your own that shows that you’ve had it tougher! Ask to understand, not so you can get into a competition of who can most compare their life to the book of Job…
  5. Try to never use the phrase “it’s alright for you!”

I hope that helps. And if you find yourself thinking “it’s alright for you, you’ve clearly had time on your hands to write this blog”, then maybe just stop and think…