grass

Seldom have truer words been said

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

“The grass is greener where you water it.” This was the quote that replayed in my head when my daughter and I traveled 6,000 miles to the other side of the world to gather the remaining belongings of our former home. (I didn’t make up this quote, by the way—I first saw it on Etsy.) I braced for a wide range of emotions—from sadness to guilt to relief to a longing to return.

But the prevailing emotion honestly surprised me. I was flooded with peace.

I prayed that God would show me whatever He wanted to show me. We were going to do fun things together, and I was excited about spending quality time with Tate. But we also came to say goodbye—goodbye to a physical place, and goodbye to the life we once lived.

I’ve mentioned before why saying goodbye was important for us, but I still wasn’t sure what, exactly, to expect. I’m completely serious—the calm flood of peace was unbelievably surprising. It just wasn’t what I really expected.

I don’t think it’s because I’m particularly gifted with wisdom, or because I knew exactly how to process all my emotions as they came. I think it’s because I’ve been blessed with a little experience in living out this quote: that the grass really is greener where I water it.

What does this look like for all of us?

• It means I find contentment when I’m cultivating my own lawn, and not gazing at my neighbor’s.

• I can’t sit around and just hope that my grass stays green. It takes work.

• When I’m watering my grass, I’m investing the resources that I’ve been given, not spending my energy wishing I had different grass.

• Heck, I’m blessed to even have grass.


Illustration by Brad Vetter

At the end of the day, this means:

• I’m focused on taking care of my tangible belongings, my relationships, my health, my lot in life—and not wishing I had something else. My energy is spent on stewardship, not on jealousy or ingratitude, unable to see my blessings.

• My body is healthy, my work is productive, and my relationships are flourishing when I work at them.

• It might seem like there’s always something better, somewhere more beautiful, or some house more functioning… and it’s true. There always will be. We’ll never be content on this earth until we’re grateful for where we are now. And when we finally are, it’s surprisingly enough.

• I can choose to be content with where God has me, and with what He’s given me.

• Life is good because the Giver is good, and when I make the most of that life, then will I find contentment.

So I sat on the return flight slowly crawling back across the Atlantic, and I was eager to squeeze my boys and return home. Home. Exactly where I belong.

Your grass is greener where you water it, too. What does this look like for you?

This post was first published on October 10, 2011, but it still rings true for me today. We’re all right where we need to be for a reason—it’s no accident.

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Comments

  1. tsh,
    having just moved from one state to another not quite two months ago, i find your recent posts about saying goodbye and cutting the bungee cord quite timely. it was very clear to us that we were supposed to move here and we had this overwhelming sense of peace about it (which continues to carry us as we adjust to a new place). my grass these days? a new home, potential friendships, a new community. thanks for sharing what you’re feeling and learning in these transitional time.
    coleen

  2. Hmmm… curious on this and praying over this. Wondering exactly what (or how or when) this means for us… it is so hard to water your grass here when you’re job – your very life – is working towards watering grass someplace else.

    • I agree, Karen. We very much feel God is leading us overseas so I very much look to that time and think of watering my grass there!

      This re-post was well timed though, Tsh. I feel I need reminding to live in the moment and enjoy where I am on the way to where I’m going.

      • Hi Jessica! I’m surprised my comment is still here… and even more surprised I’m in the place I was watering from afar so long ago. :) This helped me so much in balancing my efforts, time, prayers and perspective. We do have to tend to both places: preparing for the future, investing in the present. Thankful for these words still and I hope you’re encouraged! :)

  3. So needed to read this right now. We live in constant limbo as expats (as you know, situations can change without much notice) and it is hard not to kind of grind to a halt and do nothing while you wait until you know what is happening for sure. Only problem is, last time the knowing ‘for sure’ took 8 months and I spent an awful lot of time doing not much at all (and putting off things until ‘after we know’). So now I am trying to regularly remind myself to just keep carrying on as if this is where I need to be and live as normally as possible and not wish for anywhere else because nothing is set in concrete anyway. Life is what you make it..today. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. I really like your point about the grass needing watered, and how you can’t just hope it stays green!

    Thanks, I needed this reminder!

  5. I love this post. There are times that I SO wish we were back in America. My friends are in the season of life where they are getting engaged and married. I want to be there for them. I think I have finally learned that my grass is green too. Maybe a different shade of green, maybe a different type of grass, but it is grass and it is green. Praise God. For everything I have missed, I have gained something else.

    • I have the opposite problem–I wish we could be back overseas! There are so many things I miss. But this post reminds me that contentment is what I should seek, here and now.

      • Thanks for the reminder :) It is a blessing to life outside of America for awhile. And for now, I need to focus on those blessings.

  6. Love this! And great timing– just got back home after some time in the States. I’m contextualizing this for myself– the desert is less dry where you water it! Just have to keep the Water coming. Thanks!

  7. Wow did I need this right now. I can’t believe how much I need this. Thanks for this post! I guess it is time to start watering.

  8. avatar
    LorraineR. says:

    •” Life is good because the Giver is good, and when I make the most of that life, then will I find contentment.” I have been working on focusing on this fact. With hubby still unemployed after 7 months and our severance running out next month, I’ve been throwing a few “grass would be greener if…..” situations around in my mind. God is definitely good no matter what……even if the job I thought my hubbs would get isn’t the job that he ends up with, even if it’s a lower pay than what we feel we need, even if there’s still debt to be dealt with, etc. I don’t know what my grass will even look like over the next few months, but I have to learn to trust God with allllll of my heart and tend whatever lot He’s given me. Thanks Tsh for this great reminder and perspective!!

  9. Excellent tips! I have to remember to water my grass, instead of just thinking about watering it and what will happen if I do :-) Thank you for sharing!

  10. Thank you, thank you for this great word. What a great reminder to water my own grass and be grateful to even have a lawn. Sometimes the grass next door does look greener: if I lived in America life would be easier, if I were young and single, I could do what I wanted (crazy thought!), etc.

    So I think I’ll go take care of my lawn.

    Blessings to you as you return home from your trip.

  11. There is something so peaceful about trusting God’s will for our individual lives and these everyday moments. I can easily step into comparison with others-falling off on both sides of the horse (either thinking I’m superior or feeling inferior). In the sane moments when I remember how God’s plans are so perfectly suited for each of us-our needs, our weaknesses-then I can settle into the place we’re in right here, today.

    Thanks for this reminder-can’t wait to put the quote up in our ‘lawn’ today.

    Andrew Osenga has a great song with a line-’The grass is always greener when there’s garbage in your lawn.’

  12. avatar
    Hannah D. says:

    Oh boy. This continues to be a big issue for me. Contentment with where we Are and what we have. I want to be like the Apostle Paul, who said, “I have learned the secret …” your point about *choosing* this attitude really resonated with me. Thanks for the post! Glad your trip went so well.

  13. I’ve learned that home is such a fluid word when you’re living all over the country and the world. Home is where our little family unit is living, where our hearts are.

    I had a rough transition (and extreme culture shock) when moving to South America last year, and this post is a great reminder. Loved your post!

    Mandy
    threelittlebaers.blogspot.com

  14. Thank you for this, Tsh. We moved halfway across the country last year and though there are some really great things about it, I’ve really missed our old home. I’ve been in a funk for awhile now, knowing that I need to move forward – not back or treading water – but having a hard time of it for some reason(s). I needed this. This is my new lawn and I’ve been called to tend to it. It really is a great lawn, just not the one we had before.

    I’m also realizing that, once again, God is reminding me that peace and security are in Him and not in my personal comfort zone.

  15. avatar
    Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for sharing. That was exactly the encouragement I needed today.

  16. Having been in the same home/place for 20 years now…I need to remember to water the grass! Thanks for the reminder Tsh.

  17. Ditto to the above. These were words I’ve needed to read today. I read a similar quote to the one in your sketchbook at the top of the post, last week, and it’s had me thinking ever since. Thank you for sharing your insight. I’m bookmarking this post!

  18. This is beautifully written and profound, Tsh. Tears have sprung to my eyes! Thank you for these heartfelt words!

  19. I needed this reminder today. Thank you.

  20. MARVELOUS. It does take work to choose to be content, one trip to Target and I see all that my life/house/etc. is ‘lacking’. It is a constant process to remind myself that I do not need everything that sparkles…and I do not want to dust it when it looses that shine! Thanks for sharing the words so clearly. For me it is slipcovers on old furniture, dusting or donating what I have that takes up precious space, keeping only what I love or use or find beautiful. Sound familiar? From YOUR BOOK!

  21. I think we have some of the same followers on pinterest. Well said!

  22. I love that quote, too! (It’s on my screen saver of most inspiring thoughts.) I love your perspective and appreciate your willingness to share! Our whole goal at The Power of Moms is to help mothers feel exactly what you’ve described–contentment with our homes and families (and excitement about becoming who we’re meant to be). That word “stewardship” is powerful, as well.

    Over the past couple of years, as I’ve been building http://www.powerofmoms.com, I’ve felt a heavy sense of responsibility to do whatever I can to strengthen mothers. You have honestly been such a great example to me. There’s so much I don’t know . . . but I’m learning. Have a wonderful day–and good luck recovering from your big trip!

  23. A wonderful reminder Tsh! I think that we can get caught up in the planning of our future lives or the missing of our former lives that we forget to be just where we are right now. Every once in a while (sometimes everyday) we all need to remember that God has us where we are right now on purpose with a purpose and to be grateful for what it is. As you said life is good (not because of the situation or circumstances you find yourself in) but because the giver is good!

  24. avatar
    Libby Nelson says:

    You have no idea of how much I needed this this morning. Thank you. For me, a small part of the message is also about self-care…when I am well-watered then I am more able to be a blessing to the people who rely on me and those God calls me to serve wherever they may be.

  25. Yes, yes and yes.
    Thank you.
    (also, getting ready to go shampoo-free, inspired by you).

  26. Last week, I wrote a post titled “When Joe Wanted to Send His Yu-Gi-Oh Cards to Portugal”. The point of the post was that if we are trying to be someone we aren’t or fit in somewhere we aren’t supposed to be, we can’t be who God created us to be. (At least, that was supposed to be the point. Or should I say I hope that was the point!!)

    I love your blog. It has been an incredible inspiration to me during a time that has been quite difficult for our family. Thank you so much.

  27. I love this…thanks.

  28. Beautiful posts. I love when you share your wisdom and thoughts on God and life.

  29. I love the point of it being more rewarding, and happier, cultivating your own grass rather than staring at someone else’s grass. When I look at my friends’ lives, I often get discontent and wish I had different things, but when I live in the moment with my girls and my husband, and LOVE what I have, I feel peaceful. And in the end, I like my friends better, too. :)

  30. your daughter must be a true genius! i like it so much, when the children with their pure mind can describe so simple the most complicated things. i marketing manager could write a book of it, and a small simple says: the grass needs to be watered. genial!

  31. you put it so nicely Tsh. I have been feeling the same “idea” lately (appreciating where I am… understanding that I’m not meant to be like anyone other than myself… that my happiness does not depend on me having it more “together” than the next person…) but I’d never heard the quote that you shared –
    The grass is greener where you water it.
    I’ll hold on to this one.
    A.

  32. Just hoppin by. Oh your entry is so true. Many people do not even see the blessing in having grass at all.

  33. I first heard this in a Debbie Macomber book (the title escapes me right now but it was a non-fiction book); she credited her minister with the quote.

    It’s a great quote that inspires me to take great care of my husband; I seem to have more intense feels towards him the more I actually do for him. That’s how I make my own grass look greener.

  34. LOVE THIS. We’re a military family, so we move tons and not always to places I’d ever necessarily want to go…what a nice reminder to relax and take care of the blessings we have. Thanks!

  35. Hi there!! We just relocated across the Phoenix valley to live in my parents’ neighborhood, leaving our friends and church home. A short move, but in many ways, it may as well have been all the way across the country! It’s actually been a relief to start fresh.
    Three years ago, I had a miscarriage that sent my spiritual and emotional life into an unheaval and since then, my main goal in life is to live in the moment and find PEACE in every moment. “Watering my grass” has meant working through old fears and insecurities, cutting back on my busyness, embracing gratitude, taking better care of my close friends, spending more time on ME, fighting my people-pleasing ways and much more. I also had to do practical things to “keep the peace,” like cutting WAY back on following the news, making sure to eat more veggies to keep my gut happy, sleeping more and having more fun with my kids.
    It has been an amazing journey! The grass quote definitely summarizes it well and I agree with all of your points–I have to stay hedged in to my own yard! I have to cultivate what is mine (which is pretty amazing!), live life to the fullest and stop comparing myself to other people. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything–I am so happy to be content and peaceful where I am right now!
    Your blog and wisdom have helped in my journey, too, and I thank you!!!

  36. avatar
    Christina says:

    Beautifully said…Thank you!

  37. I had never seen this phrased this way! I love it b/c just this weekend I was thinking the grass was greener on the other side. Thanks for reminding us to count our blessings and make the most of what the Lord has given us in our own yard. In my yard, I have a two beautiful kids with a husband that loves me and the Lord has provided everything we have needed to sustain us from the day to day. I will continue to water these blessings.

  38. Wow! This so speaks to me! I’m in the process of trying to dig out of some disorganization in my life. It’s so tempting to sit back and ignore it and wish it was different….or as you put it, sitting around hoping my grass stays green. Tried that, turns out it doesn’t. So, now I’m putting in the work, but starting to feel peace as I do it. I want to make the most with what God’s given me. I’m tired of ignoring things because of fear.
    Thanks for your post today!

  39. avatar
    StephanieB says:

    This lesson of contentment is a really important one. Happiness in the deep parts of our souls can’t be achieved when it is connected to anything situational or material. It must be cultivated. I love the reminder!

  40. Timely for me. We have been spending months dissatisfied with our home and wishing we could move, but we just can’t. So this weekend we came up with a new plan for reorganizing our space and actually got moving on it. Watering our house so it’ll get greener! (or something).

  41. Great post, Tsh. Too bad we can’t learn this truth just once and remember it.

  42. I have never heard that quote before, and I have to admit that it is amazing. I love it. Thank you for sharing and I loved your thoughts on this today.

  43. contentment is pretty simple, after all:)

  44. Your post reminded me of a wonderful quote, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ” ~Teddy Roosevelt.

  45. Love the quote “This is where I want to be”. Pray, do my part and be content with where I end up.

    http://lovingsimpleliving.com/2011/10/apartment-update/

  46. Tsh, I love this quote. And all your analogies, too. I think you DO have a lot of wisdom. God has really used your experiences to teach you and others so much. Grateful for you and what you do! I find it inspiring!

  47. Just reading again because my spirit needed watering! :)
    This stood out…I can choose to be content with where God has me and with what He’s given me. That really hits me. Am I choosing to be content or am I complaining & hurting God…and myself? I want to choose contentment & thanks.
    Thanks Tsh!

  48. It seems I’ve had the “grass is greener somewhere else” issue for some time now. I really appreciate your amazing and beautiful perspective on this subject. I think I need to read this on a daily basis until I can recite it word for word!! Thank you for sharing. :)

  49. After reading your recent “mentions” on Oregon Live, I have been thinking quite a bit on depression. If I am understanding it correctly, blogging was started more or less as your “therapy”. But it turned out to be your element. And you are no longer depressed.

    Are we not satisfied because we are somewhat “greedy”, like grass is always greener on the other side? Or, are we not satisfied because we are not walking the path God want us to walk on?

    We often heard, there is an emptiness in us that only God can satisfied. And there are times in my life that I could not understand why I am not satisfied, even though I am already a believer. I have been asking myself, am I just refuse to be at peace with where God want me to be? Or, am I not at peace because I am not at where God want me to be – a sign for me to keep looking for His purpose for me?

    I do feel I am more content now after blogging for about 6 months. Some outside circumstances have changed too, but I think the channel to express myself, organize my thoughts and push me to get something done might have something to do with it. As in, I am closer now in finding my element or finding how I should live my life.

    Is being in your element, writing and managing these blogs, are among the things you mean when you said you are watering your grass?

    • Good questions, and lots to answer. :) To give you the 10-peso version, yes, blogging is certainly part of it. But it’s only part of it. It’s not my grass. Maybe it’s an ingredient in the fertilizer? Part of the soil? I dunno, I could run this analogy into the ground if I’m not careful.

      Yes, blogging started out as therapy, and it turned out to be my element. But it’s just another tool in my life God is using to point me to Himself, ultimately. It’s not my idol, nor is it my identity.

      Does this help? I can share more in a future post, if you like.

      • Thank you for taking the time to answer. I guess I am understanding what you mean. It takes some chewing and tasting before I can digest it :)

        Perhaps, when we are not at peace with where we are, the least it would mean is that, we are not where God want us to be in terms of our relationship with Him. And as gracious and merciful as He is, He uses all these other tools to help us find Him.

        And yes, if you see fit for this discussion to be expanded as a blog post here, I would love to read it.

        Thank you once again.

  50. TRUE my dear and well said. Thank you.

  51. For me, it means that if something in my life isn’t the way I want it to be, then I need to put more effort into it. If someone else’s grass looks greener than mine, more than likely that’s because they watered it, cultivated it, tended to it. Thanks for the quote; I love it!

  52. I love your quote, “Grass is greener when you water it.” I work with marriages and will be using it because too often couples think the grass “should be” green on its own.

  53. How much I needed that today! Too often I waste time and energy wishing on something that wasn’t meant to be mine. Hope you don’t mind if I borrow that quote.

  54. I relate to those thoughts a lot. I have spent so much of this past year and a bit thinking, “I can’t wait until…”, “life will be so much easier, more peaceful, calmer, etc. when…”.

    I’m beginning to realize that I need to focus on exactly where God has me now, today. Make these days the best that I can and seek what He has for me here, instead of wishing for days ahead that may or may not be any easier or better.

    The lawn analogy was ironic, because I’ve been thinking a lot on the idea of the grass being greener in other people’s lives and homes, but you’re so right that it’s not even just about accepting the grass that I have and being thankful for it, but purposefully watering it as well. Thanks, friend. Glad your trip was so good for you. :)

  55. I am praying with you, Tsh…

    And what you wrote here? You not only *write* it, sister… you do the mattering part: the living of the words…

    So much love, Tsh…
    Ann

  56. I, too, have just moved — from intentional community in a diverse neighborhood to living only with my (small) family in a white suburb. I have been grappling with all sorts of issues (from joy at finally living alone to culture shock from being in a very white neighborhood), but mainly I come back to this one truth: God wants us here. It might not always make sense and sometimes it might be confusing (and might bring up some internal issues I need to deal with), but this is where God has planted us.

    And yes, it does take work, but God never promised us easy lives. But we have been given full lives, made fuller by the work of Christ in and through us.

  57. Ah Tsh, this is so wonderful. And I’m so so grateful that your trip went this way. What great closure. And welcome home!

  58. A seminary professor, Dr. Dennis Johnson at Westminster in California, changed my outlook on life when he said, “You are where you are, doing what you are doing, not because you have put yourself there for fulfillment, but because God has put you there for His glory.”. Your post reminded me of this. Such wise, freeing words.

  59. I love all your posts, Tsh, but this one has to be one of my favourites. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said you could choose to be content. It’s so true. How wonderful to not be wandering aimlessly in search of other things!

    Congrats on the closing of a door, and making way for where God has you now.

    Welcome home!

  60. We are about to make A Big Leap into the unknown (for us anyway)….we’re moving overseas. I am both thrilled and very nervous at the same time about the big changes that are about to happen. I need to learn to make peace with the events that will soon follow and learn to go with the flow. otherwise I worry that I will end up going nuts from all the stress and the worry. Sometimes it’s a good thing to stretch your comfort zone.
    :-)

  61. God gave me this verse this past summer—it goes really well with the etsy quote:

    Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
    and whoever waters will himself be watered.
    Proverbs 11:25 (ESV)

    Thanks for sharing. Really needed to hear this for many reasons.

  62. Beautifully said and to true.

    How beautiful our life (or grass, or garden!) becomes when we take the time to water (and notice) it!

  63. Loved this post. Especially the grass is greener quote and, “Life is good because the Giver is good.” Discontent robs us of so much. Thanks.

  64. I will second many other commenters by saying I love this post. There will always be someone out there who appears to be one step ahead of us be it a car, home, career, etc. By choosing contentment and choosing to embrace where God has us right NOW, we are choosing joy.

  65. So glad you found your peace!

    I’m very very happy where I am. And I’m very very happy to be watering my grass. But it took me a while to get here!

  66. Sometimes hard to remember, but so very true.

  67. Thank you for this. “Thankful to even have grass”. So true. So very true.

  68. Wow – today I’ve noticed that I have been struggling with contentment. Wishing my life was more like some of the bloggers I love to follow. Wishing I didn’t have to do this and that but could instead do something totally different. Wishing my house and my clothes and my body and my hair looked different. Not sure why it’s all hitting me at once, but thankfully I’m aware of this lack of contentment in my life.

    “Watering my own grass” looks like getting off the Internet. Avoiding Facebook, where I often feel left out or jealous of those around me. Avoiding Pinterest, where I pin all that I do not have. Instead of living online, I “water my grass” by being present in the here and now. With my husband, my kids, my job, my home. Spending time in the Word. Also eating health and exercising. The things I need to do to keep my grass green cannot be done when I spend so much time being jealous and discontent. Thank you for the reminder that I need to focus on all that I DO have today :)

  69. A short and sweet reflection of the lesson that I have in front of me right now. Thank you, thank you for this repost. Blessed, indeed.

  70. I recently moved to a new state – about 20 hours away from where I grew up. This was a really inspiring post – thanks for sharing! Next time I feel homesick, I will think about what I just read.

  71. So needed to hear this today. We’re just about to move – and it’s an exciting move, but because we only moved a year ago I really didn;t feel ready for another move!!!! But there we are. So true. Thank you.

  72. Tsh,

    My daughters and I simply fell in love with the “this is where I want to be” art and printed it to frame for their bedroom, is that ok? I know it probably wouldn’t even matter, but I am going to do a before and after blog post, and once and awhile my posts are linked to by people who actually get traffic, so if it’s a problem please please let me know!!

    Thanks!!

    :) Stephanie

  73. I have heard it said more simply as “don’t water the weeds.” There are things in life we should focus our energy on… those things that are “joy generators” and that give us happiness momentum. Then there are those things that only bring on a negative thought cycle that can feel like purgatory. It’s important to be able to recognize the difference between the negative cycles and the frustrating elements of every day life. No matter what, try not to “water the weeds.”

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