Hey there friends. Obviously, it’s not Wednesday. But, we’ve had a crazy crazy week. Strep for the oldest and Starr testing(standardized test) for the first year, Kinder field trip Tuesday along with pouring rain and storms and house repair/project appointments all day today. That doesn’t include the piles of laundry or long list of emails I’ve yet to respond to. Life can get crazy yes?
I was just in my kitchen doing dishes and ya’ll know my mind tends to run off when I scrub food off plates. It just does. I’ve been thinking about something for a while but sometimes it takes dish scrubbing to make it post worthy.
I heard from a friend last week about something weighing heavy on her heart and as it turns out, it was this very topic I wanted to write about. So, it’s time. It’s about joy. But not joy for you, joy for other’s.
Why is this so hard for us? I know it’s in our human nature to experience jealousy over stuff other people have or get. But is it possible to truly experience joy for other’s instead? I believe it is. But, I also think we have to dig deep to figure out the root of our jealousy. What’s under it?
I feel like the real struggle is not just jealousy, but judgement. I know I struggle with this and I can’t be alone. He got a new job with better pay? Wow, he must be chasing that corporate ladder and sacrificing time with his family. What a shame. She lost 20 lbs? She must be consumed with self-image and starving herself. They are going on a family vacation? How on earth do they have the money to do that? They must not be saving for their future at all. Their kids will never go to college. She ran a marathon or iron man? There is no way she isn’t sacrificing her family and must be completely obsessed with competition and fitness. They got a newer bigger house? They must be putting themselves into debt. She has a successful business and is a mom? She must not spend any time with her kids. And the list could go on, could it not?
See, we don’t just experience jealousy, we add a spec of judgement in there and I believe it’s to soften the blow of what we aren’t getting. If someone else’s success is at the expense of other’s or their family or finances, it means they are wrong and we are right. But I think what it really points to is the jealousy and discontentment under our own surface. Maybe we could respond this way instead.
You got a new job? That’s awesome. I’m sure God has just the right purpose for you in that. You lost 20 lbs!? Wow, that takes commitment and dedication and I’m so very inspired by you and proud of you. You are taking your family on a vacation? That will be so much fun and such a sweet time to reconnect with no distractions. You competed in an iron man? That is one of the most daunting things I can imagine doing physically. I am so inspired to do something hard or that seems impossible. Thank you for setting that example and pushing me past my comfort zone. Ya’ll got a new house? Congratulations! I’m sure there is a special need in that exact neighborhood for you and your family and I know you are going to bless other’s with your new home. She has a successful job and is a mom of 4? She must be really organized and motivated to do what’s best for her family. I could learn a lot from her, even if I’m not working a full-time job.
Isn’t that a better response? Don’t you think if we responded that way, it would stifle any jealousy that tries to come to the surface?
Judgement is there and it justifies our jealousy. It covers it. If we can decide that whatever someone else has or experiences is at the cost of something else, then they are in the wrong. We mask our jealousy this way and it puts the other person in the wrong, and us on the high seat. The more righteous seat. The better seat. The smarter or wiser seat.
If this is the pattern we set when those around us experience successes, then we are never really joyful for other’s are we? We will find ourselves constantly comparing and looking for the wrong in them. It’s not a fun way to live. Trust me, I know.
I have spent the last few years calling attention to my tendency to judge and asking God to change my heart. To help me feel true joy for other’s. To offer support, love, and encouragement. I may not always agree. I may not make the same decision if I was in their shoes. I may not take the promotion or spend the money on this or that. But judging them for their choices does absolutely nothing for me. It just stifles my ability to feel joy. And I want to have joy for other’s. I want to support and encourage my friends. I want to love people with abandon and unconditional selfless love. But it’s hard. It takes work and some potentially painful self reflection.
If we can replace our judgement with joy and happiness, it would go far. It would replace that jealousy with contentment. I don’t want my kids to grow up judging people based on the decisions they make in their lives. We all mess up. We all make stupid decisions. We’re all human and flawed. If all we do is judge, then we are very rarely in the wrong. That’s a dangerous place to be.
I want to sing with you. To jump up and down with you and laugh so hard it hurts. For God to be pleased with how I love and treat those He made…and loves deeply. To cry with you and mourn with you. To do life together means doing it all. The good and the bad and the good and the ugly and the spectacular.
We need people in our lives who love us in spite of ourselves. People we can take the junk to, or the success to and experience a high-five or a hug that comes from a heart that is genuinely happy for us. That celebrates in our successes, has joy in our joy, tears in our weakness or mistakes. Because we’re called to love one another. Unadulterated. Selfless love that doesn’t come with strings attached to our successes or our decisions. It’s a love that will ultimately result in experiencing joy for other’s. And that my friends comes with so much freedom.