This month, I’m going to the Festival of Faith and Writing. Two years ago, it was amazing. The title of the final plenary session caught my attention–“If Only I Had Her Verbs! On Jealousy, Creativity, and a Generous God.” It was Rachel Held Evans, one of my favorites, and I so needed to hear what she had to say.
The title got me, because I had more than an inkling she was going to go there. There, to that place I knew would be raw and painful to the touch. Like the time I had to let my husband dig a piece of glass out of my foot while I cried and grasped the chair like it was a rope hanging off the Sears Tower. It had to come out so I could walk. But the process threatened my polite pastor’s vocabulary.
The #livefreeThursday prompt for this week is “from back row to front row.” How do you feel going from one to the other, or wishing you were in one and not the other? And I do know the feeling.
Jealousy of other writers, other pastors, other professionals who are where I want to be. Saying what I want to say. With platforms that actually get them heard. And I am jealous.
Yes, it’s ugly and counterproductive and hard to admit. But it’s real. And I don’t think I’m alone.
Some time ago, I mentioned on my Facebook author page that I have one prayer practically every day: “More You, less me.” Short and to the all-too-mortifying point. I despise my own obsession with me. But I have a tough time getting over myself.
Is anyone with me here?
I echo John the Baptist so often in my personal moments of chastisement. “He must increase, and I must decrease.” God, that’s what I want. But I lack the mad skills to know exactly how that happens when the mind is an insistent thing clamoring for me to live inside its walls and telling me the internet reception is better there anyway.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the demon on one shoulder telling me I’m the best thing since CS Lewis and why don’y people recognize that or the demon on the other shoulder insisting I’m a huge fraud with no talent who should have gone to law school as planned because at least there putting on a show is acceptable business. I may have a small issue with imposter syndrome.)
Neither one, you might have noticed, is an angel. Both have the same goal—to get us to think about ourselves. Only ourselves. And to obsess over where those selves stand in the world of other selves. Above or below? We have to know.
I took to heart what she said, and I vowed to make it mine. “There is enough room out there for everyone. God is a generous God.” I know this to be true. I believe it with everything in me. I want to live it.
“There is enough room out there for everyone. God is a generous God.”
Then, with those best intentions evidently not-so-firmly in place, I open Facebook on Monday to hear all about my writer friends who are doing great things. And all those intentions sink in a sea of “That’s so not fair!/ Why is that not my life?/ Well goody for you little Miss Sunshine I hope you enjoy it while it lasts.”
I can be pretty rude in the grasp of jealousy.
Usually, I am content to be very happy for others’ success. I can want mine and love theirs. But some days, it feels like their comes at the expense of mine. That so smacks of older brother rivalry of his little prodigal bro. I don’t like being that brother.
Why is there such a disconnect between what we know to be true and what we feel to be true when our dreams are threatened? Why do we listen to those twin demons? Why does someone else have to be less than so I can be more? Why can’t we live like we believe “There is enough room out there for everyone because God is a generous God”?
I think the culprit, as usual, isn’t anther person. It’s fear. Fear that our dreams will not look like we want them to. That they won’t ever look like anything. Fear can cause some ugly, ugly stuff to come out of our hearts and into our thoughts.
What do you do when fear makes you ugly? I’m pretty sure it’s not just me. I know it isn’t, since some of my favorite Brene Brown quotes talk about our scarcity fears, how we buy into the lie that there is not enough to go around. In order to ever succeed, we have to compete with one another, feeling the pressure to perform all the time. Fear makes me think that if you succeed, there won’t be enough room for me, too.
It’s a lie.
There is enough room out there for everyone. God is a generous God.
Together is the way to gain front row or back row or any row in between. A heart-deep belief that God makes room in the row for all of us, so my job isn’t to keep you from the front row; it’s to help you get there. Nor is it to worry that if you’re already there, there isn’t room for me at the popular table. There is. Enough is God’s specialty.
Less me. More you. God, every, every day. Until it’s true.