There are moments in life when we’re content. We’re happy as we can be.
We’ve got hearts full of gratitude for something or someone really important to us.
When someone asks how we are, we can truly say life is grand! And mean it!
But as much as this is true, sometimes all our positive vibes come to a crashing end fast!
We fall flat into anger and tears. We’re ready to throw a “woe is me” pity party.
Why? Someone tells us about something amazing in their lives. We read a glowing post on Facebook or on Twitter. We hear their sharing as bragging (even if they didn’t mean it as such)
“I have a new job that pays me double what I used to make!”
“My children are A-roll honor students! My grandchildren just won an all-state competition!”
“My husband just sent me a bouquet of roses at work and it wasn’t even our anniversary!”
And in moments, insecurity comes racing in, doesn’t it?
What we have doesn’t seem good enough.
We are jealous.
And oh how jealousy ruins things! It ruins our day. It ruins our planned evenings out. It ruins what we most celebrate about ourselves.
And, in the church, where our mission asks us to ban together as the Body of Christ, we don’t really like to talk about jealousy, do we?
It’s like one of those words like gossip or gluttony that we assume none of us has a problem with . . . you know right after we tell a story about our least favorite church lady again with another piece of pie in our hand!
“Me, jealous? No, way!” we say.
But our feelings come out in subtle ways, I think.
Or even disengaging from relationships all together. (Our friends and family are left wondering what in the world they did to deserve such coldness?)
I bring this up because know jealousy. I really know it.
I’ve been that stone wall one in the corner, sad, angry and discontent. I couldn’t see past my pain.
I’ve also been the recipient of side of the mouth comments from folks who assume that because I have X then I think I’m better than. They can’t see past their pain.
In in both cases, jealousy hurts!
So what do we do? How do we live in community with one another like this? How do we keep ourselves from being sidetracked into jealousy?
This might just be a start, but lately this is my go-to motto: “Stay in your own lane!”
It’s as simple as imagining yourself in a car and staying in your lane without moving. No blinkers on!
It works for me because it’s a metaphor that reminds me to keep my gaze focused my forward moving energy.
It’s a metaphor that asks me to celebrate who is in my car– not who I wish might be.
It’s a metaphor that reminds me that the only way to keep jealousy out is to simply be where I am, nowhere else.
Most of all these words help me to visualize God’s redemptive story needs to be worked out in the details of my life not someone else’s. I have to do my own work!
We surrender the details to God.
I realize such steadfastness can be painful.
But great things are happening in my lane (and they are happening in yours too!) Though we might feel like we’re on a endlessly boring journey of desolate countryside for miles, stuff is happening in us and around us as we go.
Sometimes that “stuff” is showy and pretty. Other times it’s not. Hear me say it doesn’t mean your lane or mine is less than!
(And for those of us stuck in the badlands, beautiful possibilities are up ahead if we only keep driving. Our gospel story tells us this profound truth).
So, while you and your lane’s accomplishments might tempt me to swerve from time to time, my lane is where I want to be.
It’s the only place I can really BE.
I can be right here.