Sharing good news with people is fun. Sharing a new pregnancy, the purchase of your first home, your graduation, a new job. It's fun to celebrate! That's why we have parties. We like to share in one another's joy. I mean, it is kind of about the food too... but mostly about the shared joy!
Except when it's not.
Four years ago my son participated in a Pinewood Derby race for Scouts. In the end he got second overall out of 17 boys. My husband and I were euphoric! I honestly think I saw unicorns and fairies dancing with one another on the horizon. It was like magic, until we noticed our son was not smiling... at all. Not only was he not smiling, but he was actually... crying, pouting. Up there at the head of the crowd while accepting his ribbon for second place he was wiping tears from his eyes.
Confusion cannot even begin to describe the reaction my husband and I had. Here we were happier and prouder than we could hope to explain to him, ready to celebrate, and yet he was devastated that he hadn't gotten first place. He was six. We had a talk about sportsmanship, he came to understand that second place was pretty awesome, he stopped being sad. End of story.
Sometimes it's difficult to tell someone good news.
After a couple years of trying to get pregnant, I met up with a friend for a play date. As we were leaving she stopped me and said, "Hey Mel, I wanted to let you know privately because I care about how this will make you feel... I'm pregnant." I was happy for her, but so sad for me. I appreciated her telling me in private so that I didn't have to find out in front of other people, but I was embarrassed that when she told me I immediately started to cry. She gave me a hug, and some encouragement. I told her I was happy for her and went home. I truly was happy for her, but I couldn't shake the pang of sadness I felt at not having what she had.
There have been many other times I've been jealous of people's good fortune. There have been many other times where I have felt that, perhaps I deserve what they have more than they do. In my innermost thoughts I have surmised that I have worked harder, done better, been more patient.
"A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot." Proverbs 14:30
Jealousy the wildfire that sweeps over relationships and burns through bonds. It's not a garment that looks attractive on anyone. It is never pretty, but there are times you can find yourself clothed from head to toe in it.
Love, patience, kindness... cannot easily sit alongside jealousy. Where there is jealousy there is often not room for much of anything else; jealousy easily fills every gap until it comes pouring out cloaked as gossip, dissension, and malice.
There will be times when we don't get what someone else has. There will be times when we will wait, and wait, and wait some more only to find that we are still not where we thought we would be or where we want to be. Sometimes it will seem unfair - especially when others have what we want and don't appear to appreciate it.
Yet, we cannot know. We cannot know that maybe, perhaps we're being saved from something, or for something. Perhaps those who have been given what we want are also being saved from something, or for something.
I ended up going on to have 4 more babies rather quickly. I cannot know what life would have looked like for me on the other side of these 4 children. I know there are women who have prayed longer and harder than I ever have to have just one baby. Just one.
I know there are people who have only wanted their marriage to survive and have watched it disintegrate into nothingness.
I know there are people who have just wanted a good job, a reliable car, good relationships, health.
The feeling of jealousy doesn't sit right in the soul. It feels gross. It leads to destruction.
Unfortunately when your sole focus is on the thing that you want - and nothing else you tend to see how everyone else has it. I have found that shifting my heart's focus to what God wants for me and not what I want for me helps give me a different perspective.
Thinking about what I have instead of what I don't have, focusing on what God has given me and His plan, the direction He is taking me - not someone else is a balm.
The thing is... You're only poor when you want what you don't have.