Sharing the deepest parts of my heart for the whole internet to read has been an interesting journey. I really try to prayerfully decide what I write about. Before I even posted my last post, The Summer Wilderness, I knew what needed to be written about next, but I didn’t want to write it. I have spent the last few weeks doing a lot of things to avoid any writing. It’s funny how when I don’t really want to write, the “writers block” seems to grow big and the excuses flow easily.
Although I knew I needed to write on this topic, I don’t really love talking about the ugly parts of my heart. Honestly, I’d rather skip this topic and just move on and that’s what I have tried to do. I have learned ignoring sin doesn’t make it go away. If anything, ignoring sin typically makes it grow into an uglier beast. Talking about the ugly dark parts of our heart always shines light on lies. We are called to live as children of the light (Ephesians 5:8). So here we go.
I struggle with jealously, and while I am sure you have dealt with jealously in your life, no one wants to say “I’m jealous”. It’s funny to me how jealously is really very common but it’s also one of those dark places that everyone would rather hide. Maybe this is my pride talking (another ugly spot, let’s be honest), but I have somehow convinced myself that my feelings of jealousy are extra terrible and need to be even more hidden. People who follow Jesus don’t deal with jealously. Especially not people who share their lives on the internet as openly as I have. Somehow I have allowed myself to believe that because I live my life open, I can’t be honest about the places I am still working through. I have allowed myself to believe that I have to live behind the lie of “perfection”.
My jealous feelings may not be what you imagine. I mean sure I have looked at a friend and wished my hair curled just like hers or wished that my taste in style was as effortless as others, but that isn’t the jealous feeling I’m talking about today. After walking through several hard months, I have been extremely jealous of people’s blessings. Goodness, this is hard to type. Pregnancy announcements have made me roll my eyes. News of physical healing has made me want to punch things. Promotions and raises have made me lose my joy. I haven’t been sleeping super well, and I have found myself thinking in the middle of the night “Hello God… what about me!?! I have been praying so hard! Aren’t you listening?”
Recently, a friend sent me a podcast by Michael Koulianos. (You can listen here). In the podcast, Michael read James 3:16:
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Michael read the scripture three or four times, and then he said something that changed my life. He said we need to learn to start saying “I celebrate your blessing” and actually mean it. Friends, we have to stop judging and comparing our blessings to others. We have to stop looking at people’s blessings and comparing them to our perceived lack. It doesn’t matter that you got pregnant in your first year of marriage and I have been trying for 10 years. I celebrate your blessing. It doesn’t matter that your sister was miraculously healed and I am still waiting. I celebrate your blessing. It doesn’t matter that you got a promotion you weren’t even praying for. I celebrate your blessing. Michael Koulianos says this “As you celebrate, you are signing up for your breakthrough.”
Friends, stop and read that again. “As you celebrate, you are signing up for your breakthrough.”
Of course the enemy desires us to be lost in jealously. Of course he needs us mad at the testimony of blessings around us. Revelation 12:11 promises that the enemy is overcome by the blood of Jesus and the power of testimonies. The enemy doesn’t want us doing one thing that gets us closer to our breakthrough. Since hearing that quote, I have been trying to authentically celebrate the blessings around me. Regardless of my perceived lack, I have been trying to truly praise God for what He is doing around me. If I am being honest, it’s been much easier to type than walk out.
Last week, I finished reading a book by Heidi Baker called “Compelled by Love”. (Order the book here.) The book is the story of Heidi and her husband, Rolland, serving the poorest people in the world as missionaries. It’s full of stories about how God miraculously provided, and how He healed and transformed people right in front of her eyes. The book also shared how the poorest people in the world taught Heidi about love.
The more I read, the more convicted I became. My struggle to celebrate the blessings around me is not because I am a terrible person. My struggle with jealousy is rooted in a deep belief that I am God’s second best. I have realized that I can encourage others all day long that our Father loves them deeply, but when it comes to my own life, I am still working to earn His love. When I realized I was believing this lie, I began to search for truth to replace it. Romans 5:8 says this in the ESV translation:
…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.
I can’t do anything to make God love me more. I also can’t do anything to lose His love. He loved me at my lowest, before I even knew Him. Two thousand years before I was born, before I could ever make the decision to follow Jesus, He died for me. If He loved me before I even existed, there is absolutely nothing I can do to fall out of His love.
I am not the first to believe I am loved less by God. In fact, it’s probably one of the oldest lies that exists. Ever since Adam and Eve were alienated from God in the Garden of Eden an orphan spirit has wreaked havoc on God’s people. What do I mean when I say “orphan spirit”? I am referring to a sense of abandonment, loneliness, alienation and isolation that living in a broken world has created in our lives. Almost immediately after the fall in the Garden, the fruit of this orphan spirit resulted in jealousy that caused Cain to murder his brother (Genesis 4:1-16). This is more proof that jealously leads to disorder and every vile thing as James 3 said.
There is a reason that God calls us sons and daughters. There is something about good parenting that completes us. People who feel unloved by their earthly parents, often feel lost – like they have no identity. Feeling unloved by God is the same. When we feel like spiritual orphans we operate out of insecurity and a lack of self esteem. We constantly are in competition with each other and strive for God’s attention. We see any blessings of others as lack for ourselves because we are worried that there is not enough to go around. Not enough blessings. Not enough love.
As I confront the orphan spirit in my own life, I realize that I’m afraid that God’s goodness is going to run dry. I know that God is good, but maybe there aren’t enough babies to go around. Maybe there isn’t enough healing for everyone. Maybe there isn’t love. When I realized I was walking around like an orphan, I started to dig into scripture. In Luke 15:31, the bible says “everything I have is yours.” Then in Ephesians 3:20 the bible says this in the ESV translations:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…
Everything God has is mine. Everything. There isn’t one thing He will hold back from me. If God promises to do abundantly more, how can I continue to believe that He will run out? Not only will God not run out, however He will do more than I can ever dream. It’s time to stop acting like orphans and to start truly living as sons and daughters of God (2 Corinthians 2:18). It’s time to let the light shine in the dark places of our heart that we’d rather hide. Darkness has no place in our hearts.
So how can we genuinely celebrate someone’s else’s blessing? Here’s a few ideas…
- Write it down. If you journal, write down the person’s blessing and then use it as a testimony. Tell the enemy that you know your breakthrough is coming because God is not a respecter of persons. He is a God of abundance that can do immeasurably more than we can hope or imagine.
- Send your congratulations. Send a text, social media message or handwritten note to let the person know you are celebrating with them.
- Food. Take your friend out to coffee, pay for lunch or send a gift card. Marking the occasion with quality time or a gift not only lets someone know you are celebrating them, it helps you focus on celebrating too.
If I am being honest, I am still working at choosing to authentically celebrate the blessings of others. Some days it is so much easier to choose to be sassy! However, my prayer, as I continue to choose to be a child of light who celebrates abundance, is that I will see Romans 15:13 in action. It says this:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I believe as I continue to choose to walk in celebration, my focus will stop being on the gift, but the giver of the gift. As I focus more on the Father and continue to trust Him, He will fill me with so much joy and peace that I will overflow with hope. Hope that can’t be hidden.