Tag Archives: relationships

No room for jealousy, or is it envy?

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You would think that by listening to how people make small talk and how people interact with each other on social media that jealousy is something cute and harmless.  We banter about the phrases, “OMG I’m so jealous!” and “look what I’m doing, are you jealous?”  I think we’ve numbed ourselves to how cutting and dangerous jealousy really is.  If you don’t believe me, just try being genuinely happy for someone who has succeeded in life.  Hard, isn’t it.

Deuteronomy 5:21 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Jealousy has a sister named Envy.  I actually had to google the differences between these two words because in our culture, they are often interchangeable.  However, they are indeed different, according to one of my favorite nerdy websites “Grammar Girl.”  Jealousy is usually a relationship type of word meaning “apprehensive or vengeful out of fear of being replaced.”  Jealousy is the emotion you feel when you fear that you will lose someone you love to another.  Envy, on the other hand, means “to bear a grudge towards someone due to coveting what someone has or enjoys.”  Envy is the emotion you have when you want what someone else has.  So grammatically speaking, it is more accurate to say, “OMG I’m so envious!”

BEEN THERE DONE THAT

However, both jealousy and envy will tear you apart if you let them.  It is highly possible that you have looked longingly at the details of someone else’s life and envied them.  Perhaps you’ve envied their status or their possessions.  Perhaps you’ve envied their physical appearance or their lifestyle.  I’ve been there myself.  Honestly!  I had a Facebook friend that I hardly knew, but her photos showed such a perfect, carefree lifestyle that she made me pea green with envy!  I had to hide her posts or I’d have to repent every time I logged on.  (Turns out her husband was professional photographer who retouched all her picts before she posted them.  So that made me feel a little better.)  So I know Envy, personally!

But here’s my point, when you envy someone, you never see the whole picture.  Your mind zooms in on the detail that you are fixating on, and you don’t see the negatives at all.  You don’t see the price that the other person has paid to get that rock hard body.  You don’t see the pain that they have endured in failed relationships crushed by climbing the corporate ladder.  You don’t see the sacrifices they have made to get where they are.

NOT WILLING TO COUNT THE COST

As a missionary, yes, I could talk all day long about how wonderful it is to live in the tropics.  And you may envy me the life I live.  But you have the luxury of asking your parents to babysit your kids while you go on a date night with your spouse.  My parents live 3,000 miles away.  You have the potential to own your own house while I will borrow used furniture to fill a rental house for a year when I come home on itineration next spring.   I don’t own a house.  We have one car which belongs to the mission.  And this morning when I made my breakfast I found ants in my French Press… AGAIN.  You don’t see all that when you envy a missionary.

You also don’t see the hours spent standing in lines in government offices.  You don’t see the “tips” paid to police officers to ensure that they don’t syphon gas out of your car at night.  (Yes, police officers.)  You don’t see the mounds of trash that pile up in the streets or the stray dogs that tear into the bags and spread it all over your driveway.  You never give a second thought to flushing your toilet paper.  You don’t think to thank God for a hot shower.  And you’ve never had to use a bigger shoe than the one you were wearing to kill a cockroach.

So yeah, you may envy the pretty pictures of nature that the missionary posts, but unless you’re ready to live in that nature as if you were camping in your own house, you better just look around you and appreciate all that you do have.  Don’t zoom in on one detail of the missionary’s life while ignoring the high price he’s paid.  Walk a mile in a missionary’s shoes and you probably won’t covet what he has.  Envy isn’t a good thing.  Be thankful for what you have and don’t try to take what others have.  That’s healthy living 101.

Psalm 16:6   “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

 

True Love Doesn’t Count the Candles on Your Cake

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Today is my husband’s 40th birthday.  He’s been a little bummed about this number for the better part of a year now.  I just can’t believe that we’ve been together for so many years.  He’s my best friend.  There is no one I’d rather spend a free day with.  There is no one I’d rather travel the world with.  At the end of the day, he’s the one I want to talk to.  When he’s with me, everything feels better.

We have history together.  I don’t care to remember much about life before Josh came along.  All of our adult life has been spent together.  We have celebrated more than 20 birthdays together and almost that many anniversaries.  We’ve made plans and dreamed together.  We’ve become parents together.  We’ve bought and sold houses, started and quit jobs, gotten lost and found ourselves again, laughed and cried together.  We share our past.  Occasionally when I look at a newly wed couple and think how sweet it would be to be falling in love all over again- I stop myself and think of all that history that we would lose if we started over again.  I remind myself that I would never really want to go back and do it again- it’s too much work to recreate what we have.  I don’t envy those just starting out.  Our relationship just keeps getting richer and deeper and more fulfilling as the years roll by.

We also have chemistry with each other.  I remember one time when I was talking with my girlfriends about our husbands.  I said, “I love that Josh can still give me butterflies in my stomach with just one look across a crowded room.”  I wasn’t being sappy or gushy, I was just making a comment that we hadn’t lost that spark.  I was shocked and sad when several of my girlfriends commented that their spouses had NEVER given them butterflies in their stomaches.  I thought,  “Wow, we really have something special then.”  I quit taking that for granted and now I know that we have a rare thing.  We can read each other’s moods without saying anything.  We know each other better than anyone else knows us.  We are one.

It’s pretty stereotypical to say that men struggle with turing 40- I’ve known many women who struggle with that number too.  But I want my husband to know that in my eyes, he’s never been more handsome than he is right now.  In my heart, I’ve never loved him more than I do at this moment.  I love that we are growing older together and we still want to be together.  I don’t take that for granted.  I know that is the stuff that dreams are made of.

So happy 40th birthday to the love of my life and my best friend.  Our adventure is just getting exciting!  I love you, Babe!

Kissing Friends

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air kiss greetingOne of the first lessons you learn when you arrive in a new country is how they greet each other.  Sometimes it’s a handshake, a pat on the back, a hug, a kiss or a combination of any of these gestures.  It’s cultural adaption 101.

Here in Costa Rica, the standard greeting between friends is to lean in and go right cheek to right cheek.  Then you air kiss by the ear and pat the left shoulder at the same time.  Then if you’re close friends or family you also follow up the kiss with a warm hug.  You would think for a Minnesotan like me it would be a difficult adjustment to make to learn to kiss everyone, but it really wasn’t that hard to get into the kissing mode.  Everyone was doing it, so it quickly became natural!

So the other night I had a really funny moment.  Our best friends Chino and Marcela, who we consider our Costa Rican family, live not very far from us.  So my husband had invited Chino to go play softball with “the guys”.  Chino came over a little early and spent a few hours playing X-box with my son and husband.  I arrived home later to a living room full of cheering male voices, a happy scene in our home.

When it came time to leave, my husband came over and kissed me good-bye and told me they would be home late.  My son came over and kissed me on the cheek, “bye Mom.”  Next in line was Chino!  I gave him the usual cheek-to-cheek air kiss with a hug and told him to have a good time.

When they all left I chuckled to myself thinking about how “normal” that strange scene seemed to me in the moment.  My husband, my son and my friend all lined up for a kiss before they go off to play.  All I can say is that I am sure to freak out some of our Minnesotan friends if I try that back home.  Cultural adjustment does weird things to you.

Thanksgiving for a New Friend

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Recently I have made a new friend at the school where I teach.  She is more than 10 years younger than me, but age has never been an issue with me.  I have had friends who are much older than me and friends who are much younger than I.  The quality that really attracts me to any friend is her authenticity.  Nothing is more delightful than someone who is comfortable just being her self.

A friend like that is like your favorite pair of jeans.  Sometimes you just want to grab your “go-to” outfit without thinking too hard about how nice you look.  Sometimes you just want to wear something comfortable that you won’t have to be adjusting or fussing with all day long.  Sometimes you just want those jeans that are a bit worn and always the perfect fit.  Yeah, a real friend is like a great pair of jeans… you never want to take them off.

My new friend is “sweet”.  That is the first word that I would use to describe her- and it’s a genuine quality in her.  The other day I had a crazy thought.  I wondered if it could actually hurt to be so sweet.  I mean, it would pain me to try so hard to be sweet, but she seems to come by it naturally.  I don’t think anyone would use the word “sweet” to describe me.  I have a stubborn, ornery streak that spices up the flavors of my personality.  (I come by that naturally too.  My mom says I’m just like my dad.)  At least I don’t perceive myself as being sweet like my friend is.

But my favorite thing about my new friend is how she talks about Jesus.  Our conversations nearly always wind their way around to Jesus.  We both love God with all our hearts and have dedicated our lives to serving Him, so naturally we would talk about God a lot.  My friend’s conversations are always so uplifting and refreshing.  I’ve had some friends who talk about God in a pious, self-righteous sort of tone and that just rubs me the wrong way.  But my friend talks about Jesus in a personal way that I can identify with.  She is not ashamed to tell of times when Jesus has scolded her in her heart for a bad attitude or revealed a falsehood in her way of thinking.  She is not afraid to admit when she screwed up and to ask God to forgive her.  And this is a lesson that I am still learning for myself.  I always feel closer to Jesus after I’ve talked with my friend.

In my taxonomy of friendship, I know I have a really great friend when I feel like I never get enough of spending time with this person.  Normally people wear me out, but when I realize that a friend fills me up instead of drains me, this is a good thing.  I only get to eat lunch (18 minutes) a few times a week with my friend and to see her a few times in passing in the hallway.  So yeah, I feel like I don’t get to spend enough time with her.  She doesn’t drain me; she leaves me always wanting more.

Since she is a single girl living overseas and away from her family, I invited her to our Thanksgiving dinner with the other missionary families that we work with here.  Secretly I was hoping that we would get to spend more time talking together… and we did.  We spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen together.  (I broke a wooden spoon stirring my thick, gluey mashed potatoes and we died laughing at that!)  Then we joined the other missionaries for our big feast.

Not only did we get full of food, but we filled up our spirits as well.  We talked of Jesus and what he’s doing in our lives.  We laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.  We got teary-eyed telling each other touching personal stories.  I feel like our hearts were even more knitted together over our turkey and pie.  So for me, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and I have so much to be thankful for.  I am very thankful for my new friend who encourages me and builds up my faith.  I wish we all had a friend like her.

My sweet friend. Isn’t she adorable?!

Stand up to Bullies

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Don’t be intimidated.  Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are.  So don’t hesitate to go public now.

Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies.  There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being.  Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life- body and soul- in his hands…

Stand up for me against world opinions and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven.  If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you?

Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy.  I’ve come to cut– make a sharp knife cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law– cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God.  Well meaning family members can be your worst enemies.  If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me.  If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.

If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me.  If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself.  But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

We are intimately linked in this harvest work.  Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you… This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it.  It’s best to start small.  Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance.  The smallest act of giving or receiving make you a true apprentice.  You won’t lose out on a thing.

……………………………………………………………………….~Jesus

The Message Version,  Matthew 10