Recently, I was tagged in an Instagram photo of Socialite Barbie, who happened to be appearing in Kinfolk Magazine, which is a trendy hip magazine featuring people doing really cool stuff. Anyway, in the photo Barbie is letting everyone know that she was featured in the magazine and then hashtags a number of things, but most notability she hashtags #humblebrag.
At first I though it was funny (I can laugh at myself) but then, I had a series of events where friends made reference to feeling jealous for the way we travel and the things we get to do and see. Then we performed a house concert and at the break almost every person came up to me to let me know how jealous they were of my family and the life we live. I started to feel a bit bothered by all of the comments but mostly deflated. I almost felt like apologizing or trying to down play our adventures by highlighting the really hard times. Then I started to wonder if I was over reacting and maybe I just needed to lighten up but I couldn’t find rest in it and the more I thought about it the more it all just felt yuck.
Jealousy is nothing new and in some instances it’s actually a positive thing, like a healthy jealousy the lover has for the beloved, or the beautiful kind of jealousy the creator has for his created. But there is an ugly side for sure. Trust me, I have had my own seasons of fighting with feelings of unhealthy jealousy. I have compared my home to others, my financial position, my beauty, my parenting, and more. But, something changed in our perspective when we began to seek the heart of God in things like justice, purpose, love, and righteousness. Jealousy and comparison just fell out of our vernacular. We started to see miracles, and things that seemed to be offensive or dangerous became opportunities to see the supernatural ways that God is faithful.
None the less, I never want to miss an opportunity for growth so I took another look at my writings and photos and saw a trend. I noticed that I do have a pretty awesome life and I tend to share how awesome it is. I also saw that behind my sharing is a heart longing for others to see that this life we live is not our own but our makers. It’s true nomadic life has allowed us to be in the “front row,” seeing the fabric of humanity knit together in amazing circumstances. We also get to do and see a lot of freaking awesome things on this journey but it comes at a cost. Our security and comfort are constantly compromised and there are days that I can hardly believe we are still alive. But, when I step back and see the Glory of God I can’t help but to shout it out.
I was reading Donald Millers, ‘Searching For God Knows What’ and he wrote about how this old saint named Paul was exhorting his friends telling them they shouldn’t think they were better than other people, and how folks should submit to one another in love, thinking of each other as more important than themselves.
Donald makes a statement in his book that I really resonate with. He says, “Imagine how much a man or woman’s life would be changed if he/she trusted that he/she was loved by God? They could interact with the poor and not show partiality, they could love their spouse easily and not exact them to redeem them, they would be slow to anger because redemption was no longer at stake, they could be wise and giving with their money because money no longer represented points, they could give up on formulaic religion, knowing that checking stuff off a spiritual to-do list was a worthless pursuit, they would have confidence and the ability to laugh at themselves, and they could love people without expecting anything in return. It would be quite beautiful, really.”
I thought long and hard about that. And, honestly this question of what life would look like if we trusted God is core to our families abilities to continue forward. We always come back to this starting point and as much as our natural tendency is to seek the approval of others, and we understand, as Miller says, “people (including ourselves) are biased and really have no idea what is beautiful or ugly to begin with.”
So, back to the #humblebrag hashtag. It’s funny because even as I write this proclamation of really trusting God’s love for me, I sense some eye rolls. But, here’s the thing, I am responsible for my own emotions and the impact they might have on others. I know I can’t control others emotions but, when I feel the impact of others jealousy, I feel bound. I feel robbed of joy and of uninhibited relationship. And, then I realized, that those feelings of jealousy rob both parties. It robs us both!! And, that makes me angry!
But what do we do about it. Blogger, gives this suggestion. She says, “It helps me to see jealousy as my enemy. You can sit around all day and try to not compare yourself. You can try to keep your blinders on and be grateful for what you have. But when you start to identify jealousy as something that’s attacking you personally, that’s when you start to fight against it more. And that’s when it starts to lose its power.”
And so, back to Paul’s exhortation, We have to work together, yielding to one another in love and thinking of each other as more important than themselves. And yes, if there is a potential that I am practicing “humblepride,” then I need friends to help me by gently showing me, but if jealousy is the heart of the prod then we have to recognize it and fight for each other, extending grace. Because, in the end, that’s what we all want, isn’t it? Amazing Grace. To know we are loved.
PS. By the way, I do find the Socialite Barbie thing quite funny. It all just got me thinking. This is what happens when I start thinking to much. Ha!