I Wish I Would Have Cheered Her On

{Sometimes I think the last thing our news feeds need is another blog post about women feeling jealous and comparing themselves to one another. But dang it, then I have a day like today where I struggle to work through my own feelings of jealousy and comparison. Again. So yeah…here’s another one. Welcome into one of the darker parts of my heart.}

{Sometimes I think the last thing our news feeds need is another blog post about women feeling jealous and comparing themselves to one another. But dang it, then I have a day like today where I struggle to work through my own feelings of jealousy and comparison. Again. So yeah…here’s another one. Welcome into one of the darker parts of my heart.}

At the end of last summer I took up jogging.

I felt less than glamorous as I ran, wearing frumpy cropped sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt. Huffing and sweating and wishing I could wear iPod earbuds to drown out my labored breathing. Pushing Toddler in a stroller like a little princess dictator as she demanded a different toy or her cup of water or to “Go faster, Mommy!”

It was towards the end of my run when she passed me.

The woman was running by herself, wearing the kind of clothes someone would wear if she were modeling for Kate Hudson’s “Fabletics” line of exercise apparel. She had iPod headphones in her ears and was going at a pace I can only remember running two decades of life ago when my dad would say, “It’s time for ice cream!”

My only thought as she passed me was a highly sarcastic, “Wow, must be nice.” You could fill in all the blanks from there:

“Must be nice to run without pushing your Toddler’s chariot around the neighborhood.”

“Must be nice to exercise to Top 40 music instead of a kid yelling at you ‘More big bumps, Mommy!’”

“Must be nice for your butt to look that good in those skin-tight jogging capris.”

I was jealous.

For the thirty seconds she entered my life, passed me on the left, and then ran out of my life again, I was jealous of a complete stranger and the mere glimpse I saw of her success, her beauty, and her strength.

Never mind my jealousy was based on a bunch of assumptions. Never mind I didn’t know her personally at all, any details of her life or her struggles or victories. Never mind I had only put in three weeks of stretching, jogging, huffing, and puffing so far, but thought I had the right to feel jealous about being passed up. All I knew was that one glimpse of her on that one morning we both exercised in that one neighborhood.

When I realized how ridiculous I was being, the jealousy wore off pretty quickly. But today, as I recall the incident and write this post, I’m struggling with different jealous thoughts. I am actually picturing the face of one particular person I feel so jealous of right now.

I see her work and wonder why God didn’t make me more like her. I wonder why I can’t have her success, her beauty, her strength.

And like that random runner last summer, my first reaction to my jealousy and comparison is to want to tear her down with phrases like “Must be nice,” instead of grabbing my pompoms to cheer her on. I focus on the mere glimpses I see of her life and make way too many assumptions, instead of being the encourager I should be:

“Wow, that is how the Lord is using you and your story? SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!" 

"Wow, you have been consistently and obediently following God’s call for how long to get where you are today? KEEP IT UP, SISTER!"

"Wow, through Christ’s power you have overcome that much in your life? PRAISE GOD!”

I hate admitting when I am jealous of someone, because it’s more than admitting an emotion.

It’s admitting I’m discontent and insecure. It’s showing I don’t trust God’s direction and purpose and timing in my own life. It’s saying, “What You have entrusted me with is not enough, Lord!”

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. {Proverbs 14:30}

There isn’t a tidy end to this blog post, because I know that whatever jealous feelings I struggle through and get over may creep up again in a moment of weakness. But I’m a firm believer that admitting my jealousy is the first step. I’m a firm believer that handing over these ugly feelings to the Lord will redirect my focus back to Him and His direction.

I’m a firm believer that His work in my life, through my personal journey of marriage, motherhood, writing, and so on and so forth is enough to find lasting joy and contentment.

And I'm a firm believer that maybe with a little prayer and the Lord working on me, the next time jealousy creeps up I might even grab my pompoms and cheer her on instead.

 

Grace and Peace,
Kendra
 

P.S. Felt similar sentiments recently? How can you choose to cheer them on instead?