Her presence reaches beyond the bounds of her physical body. At least it seems from where I’m sitting, a few chairs over at our shared round banquet table.
We share a table at dinner. We share a similar height and hair color. We share the role of mother and the desire for work for the Kingdom of God.
But I don’t see those obvious similarities in this moment.
When I look at her I see what I long for. I see what I crave but don’t have.
She holds a doctorate. She runs a ministry. She teaches at a university.
I compare and consequently fall prey to jealousy. I see what she has and call it ‘good,’ ‘admirable,’ altogether better and more desirable than my lot in life.
Jealousy is twisted admiration.
I must leave. I flee to the ladies room to grapple with my feelings. To tame my jealousy.
I fight the tears. God! Let this pass quickly – don’t let my face turn crying red! I don’t want to have to explain myself when I finally go back out there!
But I don’t want to go back. I want to run away. The longing is too deep and the NO from God is too painful. And I don’t understand why it’s a NO for me but a YES for her.
As I sop up my tears with a rough paper towel, and pat my face with cool water, the Holy Spirit impresses upon my heart two words – move closer.
Everything within me wants to run far away from this woman, to flee my jealousy instead of deal with it. But God tells me to move closer to her; to move closer to my internal battle.
So I do.
The redness begins to fade; it’s safe to return to the table. I sit in emotional shambles for the remainder of the program. The program is over and mingling begins. There she is, a couple empty seats over, and I force myself to speak. I move toward her, ask her about herself, pretending I’m fully engaged in trying to get to know her. Pretending I truly care about her, even though I’m still absorbed in my own misery.
A subtle shift begins to take place in my heart. No longer am I pretending, forcing myself to converse. I genuinely begin to feel a connection to this woman, to see her as a child of God, not a threat. She’s a lovely person. She’s not my problem, I am.
The source of my discomfort and pain is not her success, rather it’s my failure to see and take delight in the unique ways God is at work in both our lives.
God unlocked a new way of perceiving to my heart that night. He graciously revealed another dark place in my heart and prompted me to move toward the pain, jealousy, and unfulfilled longings.
In moving toward it, I found correction that led to a softening heart and to peace.
Is there is something you need to move closer to today, instead of fleeing? You might be surprised by what happens when you choose to move closer!
Thanks to the kind working of God in my heart, that evening I experienced a glimpse of what it is to take delight in another person’s achievement. To be sincerely thankful for what God is doing in their life.
I also came face to face, again, with the fact that maybe my desires don’t always reflect God’s desires, or at least not His timing. The same God that is working in others is working in me. When I trust HIS work, I learn to be satisfied with my portion and find Delight in my present circumstances. When I trust HIS work, I learn to rejoice with those who are accomplishing great things for the kingdom of God, even it’s something I wish I could be doing too. Because it’s ultimately all about His kingdom and His praise and His glory!
God is slowly turning my twisted admiration into true appreciation.
“But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.”
More than ever, I am persuaded that the only endeavor of true value in this life is Aiming at Heaven – pursing a loving and obedient relationship with our Creator and Savior. It’s my goal for this blog to share with you how God is continuing to teach and transform this life of mine that it might be an encouragement as He teaches and transforms you too! If you would like to receive an email when a new post is published, you can sign up below. It only takes a moment.