Not so long ago, everyone's best qualities were a reflection of my worst. They were the mirror that made me look bad.
Perfectly settled hair was the magnifying glass to my hair's frizziness. Powerful managerial titles were a one-up to my progress. Beauty was showing off. Smarts were right-in-your-face arrogance.
Almost everyone stood at odds with me, because I couldn't help but want what they had. If they say that "the grass is always greener on the other side", I had to wear sunglasses not to be blinded by their verdant pastures. That green monster always taunted me just a yard away.
Everywhere I went, other's God-given gifts were threats to my value. It was like they more they shined, the more I was unworthy of love. The more they rose up, the more I sunk down.
I kind of hated them for it, but had to fake like I really loved them anyway - because that's what good Christians do.
The Endless Ride That Takes You Nowhere
It felt like I was riding a carousel that never stopped. Round and round and round I would go from person to person measuring my worth against theirs. The more I came around to see them, the more I got tired of this endless ride, yet I could never find a way to get off. The music of my thoughts became nauseating and impossible to turn off. It seemed to grow louder and louder over time.
What do you do when you are stuck in the place of "I want what they have?" What do you do when everyone else seems to have climbed higher, faster than you could have ever dreamed?
How do you cope when, in many ways, you want to hide from those more graced than you?
My soul questioned these thoughts and pondered and tried to change and, yet, failed. Time and time again I would stand on the stoop of my lot in life only to look and want - desire and crave - all that they had.
Landscaping a Jealous Heart
Yet, God is the great landscaper of a jealous heart. As I came to him to seek transformation and restoration for my broken heart, he answered, saying, "Consider how to love those you can't stand. Consider how to stir them up to love and good works." (Heb. 10:24)
Is this even possible? It inspires me to think that when we stop stirring up hatred of another's gifts, we can begin to stir them to love and good works. We either stir love or we stir hate. What we stir in our mind, pours out through our actions.
What if we were to look past all they have, to see all they really need?
There is power in looking beyond our own eyes, our own yards and their green pastures. When we do, we see the heart with ample patches of dry soil - much like our own. The heart that is dying for a fresh drink to satiate its pain.
God has equipped us with the watering can. Do we realize that we have the living water in us, ready to be poured out through us?
“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’” Jo. 4:13-14
The ones we can't stand are the exact ones to whom God calls us to extend a helping hand.
Exiting the Carousel of No Fair
As I saw past my initial feelings, I searched for the other's deep needs verses my deep wants. I looked for opportunities to love, to build into, to interject a comment of appreciation.
And, God staggered my heart, he rocked my world and stunned my eyes. He took me off the dizzying ride and placed my feet on his rock-solid ground. Here, I could see his truth: "iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." (Prov. 27:17)
These people were sharpening me as I sharpened them. They were giving me the better gift. The one that Christ desires. The people that I was so quick to condemn, to judge and to pick apart, they were sharpening my perception to see as Christ sees and to love as he loved, despite my social status.
As I did, his love boomeranged right back. Everyone's grass became green. I felt full of nourishment and they felt full too. This is the power of Christ's living water. There is enough for everyone. It's not a sprinkler it’s a waterfall.
God is faithful to water the ground of hearts in ministry. Building up others, not only builds them but builds true love in our hearts for them. We hand out what we never thought we could, but we get back far more than we ever realized we needed to begin with.
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Prov. 11:25
Publication date: February 11, 2016