I had an important realization Sunday afternoon. I was driving down the road thinking about the spot-on amazing sermon that I heard in the morning… and the wonderful words of encouragement spoken by Jen Hatmaker on Friday night and Saturday morning at a Women’s conference I attended. And I was thinking about how my friend Shelley had clued me into a new Anne Lamott book which excited me so greatly that I ran right out and bought the book for FULL PRICE! (Something I NEVER do …totally against my philosophy…but I wanted it and it wanted me…so now we are happily together!)
And in the midst of all of that Happy…
…there was a dark spot ruining my otherwise Sun- Shiny Day.
I was thinking about how I felt frustrated. And strangely at the same time, cocky. I was having a bit of a pity party that famous, godly, funny, irreverent authors; famous, godly, amazingly talented irreverent speakers; and my own wonderful and reverent pastors sometimes write and say things that I have already written or said!
How can that be?!?
How terribly unfair!
Shouldn’t someone know? Someone should understand that it was my idea FIRST! It had to be… I never heard it before I came up with it. Shouldn’t I get some credit? How did they read my mind anyway? Have they been reading my blog…or the chicken-scratched notes that I write on random scraps of paper and reused envelope parts and store receipts and napkins? How did they get in my purse? Did my notes get stuck on my foot when I got out of my car? Did they find my words in some Super Market parking lot?
Can I be honest with you about something? … Something that is terribly unattractive about me?
I get jealous.
I know…it’s wrong. It’s ugly. If you could see me, you would have to divert your gaze. It is THAT ugly.
To defend myself from your disgust and your “tsk- tsk- tsk-ing” and your disappointed head shaking and your pointer finger scraping motion … I am not THAT kind of jealous! My jealousy is ugly inside me. I am not going to wear my envy…it isn’t going to affect our relationship probably. I don’t envy material things. I don’t envy cars or houses or people’s beauty… I don’t envy other people’s families or possessions. I am probably not going to envy you unless you are living the life that I want to be living.
But to be real here, I think that I envy a type of fame. I don’t want to be famous to be “known”. I don’t want paparazzi. I don’t want the masses to want a snippet of my hair or a piece of my t-shirt. In a crazy-sounding way I want to be famous for God’s sake. Are you believing this? Usually I do. I am not a glory seeker…but I want to KNOW that what I am saying is being heard. I want …Best-selling books….Speaking engagements….invitations to conferences. I want to make friends with brilliant people who make me think… and who will never know me if I am not famous too. We would be friends… John and Stasi Eldredge and Jen Hatmaker and Anne Lamott….they would come to dinner at my house. Often. My brilliant best friends and my brilliant famous friends and I could all talk all night…and we could make plans for how we can change the world (in a good way).
If I was living the life that I want when I am in my jealous state, I would be traveling everywhere and meeting people from everywhere. I would get toured around and shown all kinds of things that only the locals know about. I would eat whatever food they recommended and dress how they do (if it is comfortable and not hot or itchy). I would take walks along country roads; through their cities; into villages and stop in the markets and sit on benches in the parks. I would eat whatever is close to a cookie and coffee in their culture at whatever is similar to a Starbucks… and I would people watch. I would strike up conversations with anyone who looked like they wanted to talk or anyone who spoke to me first. I would go into every church… probably not to participate in a service but just to say “Hello” to the architecture and the stained glass and to God. I would probably sit down on a pew for a while and just be. Maybe for a minute. Maybe for a long time.
I am jealous for the life that I see other people… people who seem a lot like me … to be living.
They are living my life…
…so why am I not living my life?
Weird question, right? And then that is when things really start getting ugly. Jealousy has Ugly cousins that get involved in the conversation too. Their voices say, ”You aren’t living that life and you never will …Because you are not talented. You are not good at writing or speaking. You are old and your skin is not elastic and you have more wrinkles than you even could believe and you don’t have anything important to say that hasn’t already been said. And look at your life! How in the world would you fit any of that in? You can’t even fold the laundry! You are too distracted and too busy with other things…your job; your kids; your chores; your obligations…There are only so many hours in the day. Maybe one day you will have time to think about trying to follow your dreams…but for now, it is not going to happen. And later I will tell you ‘maybe later’… and then I will keep telling you ‘maybe later’ and then you will be dead so it won’t matter anyway. You are spinning your wheels, Sister. It ain’t gonna happen. Just save us both some grief and give it up. There are already people doing what you want to do…and they do it better. There are already too many dreamers in the world. There are already too many people telling the world what you would say. You aren’t needed. Deal with it. You aren’t them and you never will be.”
That last part is true. I am not them.
As of this past Sunday I realized how STUPID that is. How stupid that WAS.
THANK GOD for showing me how stupid I have been! Seriously. It is not only ugly to be jealous, it is destructive. It was holding me back.
Let me explain…Sunday afternoon as I was driving down the road thinking my thoughts about Jen and Anne and Pastor Scott’s morning sermon a thought came to me as clear as a bell. “RIIIIIINNNNGGGGG!!! This is a ‘wake-up’ call, Christy! Those words that you think are YOUR words…those words that you read and hear in other people’s books and at other’s people’s conferences and sermons?
“….well, they are NOT your words. You keep hearing them from people that you respect and admire because they are My Words. AND the reason that all of these people that you respect and admire are saying the same things that you already know in your head and heart is, because they are important to Me. They are important that you Know and that you know that they came from Me …and that you ACT on these Words! You must remember these words and you must do something about them.
“They keep coming to you in your head and in your heart and out of other people who love Me …because they are TRUE. Pay attention. Pay attention. PAY ATTENTION!….Oh, and by the way, just because one or two or ten or 100 or 1000 people have said the same thing that you thought was your idea, KEEP SAYING IT. AGAIN and AGAIN. Keep saying it until your voice runs out and your fingers won’t write. The people that need to know these things may not come across them any other way other than through you.”
I feel like I have been smacked hard and hugged hard all at the same time.
OK, God. What do I do with this?
“Follow my lead. And get over yourself. This is not about you, Christy. None of it. And if I think that you are doing the most good for Me in your house with your family…and in your church teaching and singing and dancing around with babies then that is where I will keep you. If I think that you need to be somewhere else doing something else…be open to it. But be sure that wherever you are, that is where I need for you to be. Don’t wish to be someone else in someone else’s life. You have a sphere of influence already…it doesn’t need to be big to make a big difference. Your child, your husband, your friend, your preschool student, your next door neighbor could be THE person that needs your attention and love and help and prayers.
“Don’t fail to see the forest for the trees. Even if you travel the same roads every day, you are a world traveler sent to tell a message and a story….sent to give a world that is covered up with bad new the Good News. You have an audience…and you are someone else’s audience. Be present to give and to receive. Do what I want for you to do…for My reasons… and you will have joy and peace and love unspeakable in your life. Even if I don’t take you anywhere, I will bring you all that you need. And more. Just notice it for what it is.”
So…that is what I am going to try to do. Here we go…or here we stay.
Let’s see what He brings our way. I can’t wait to share with you!