This past season on the Bachelor (bear with me for a sec) there was a moment that if you blinked you would have missed it, when one of the girls, Cassie, hugs her best friend who got the date for the week & says genuinely “I’m so happy for you!” while tears well up in her own eyes and start to roll down her cheeks. This very real moment on a show known for being unrealistic, really resonated with me because it echoed a lot of what I have been feeling lately- the simultaneous heartbreak and joy I feel at my friends’ success in areas I’m lacking. I genuinely am happy for my friends and know how deserving they are of the relationship, job, good news, etc, but at the same time I can’t stop my own heart from breaking a bit and struggling at times to keep up the perfect happy-supportive-friend image. Watching others get where you want to be & not knowing if it’s guaranteed for you is tough.
However, what I’ve realized is that it’s not a jealousy directed at my friends (or even about them at all). It’s a bitterness in my heart towards a God of abundance who seems to be withholding from me.
The success and happiness of others seems at times to shine a spotlight, exposing areas of our own insecurity. For me, it reinforces this idea, even though I know it’s not true, that the success of others must mean the failure of myself. If my friends are getting into relationships & getting married and I’m not, I must not be pretty enough, vibrant enough, fill-in-the blank enough. If others are having career success it instills a fear that I’m wasting time in the place I’m in now and missing out on my shot. It comes out of a fear of scarcity, that there won’t be enough for me.
I really don’t have the answers, but this is something I’ve been wrestling with over the past few months. I know one major problem is how I look at abundance and twist it to mean getting the things I want on my timeline. I assume that because other people my age are hitting milestones that I’m not, that I’ve been left behind, left out by God, and that a “Not now” means “Not ever.”
Yet, I can think back to so many times in life where God didn’t answer my request or let me get my way, and am so very thankful for the sweetness of growth that has come from “no’s” that were difficult to swallow at the time (and how harmful those “yes-es” in hindsight would have been for me.) I like to think that my requests/desires are better-intentioned now, which makes the “no’s” sting just a bit more, but am trusting that the same God is still lovingly protecting me with each one.
The difficult part about being genuinely happy when others succeed in areas you’re lacking is that it requires total trust in the author of your story. That what feels like void in your life was intentionally written by an author who has crafted a story for you that He calls good. That there’s still enough, abundantly enough, for you. Its having the courage to continue on the path you are uniquely called to, despite the fear of it not looking like others’ you may see and not letting that affect your growth. It requires being so confident in the God who got you this far and trusting in the unseen path before you that you recognize that someone else’s victory isn’t your loss, it’s just a completely different storyline.
In the highlight reel social media culture we’re in its easy to get lost in a comparison trap- we see the milestones but not the struggle, the beauty without the burden. The only one who really understands is the one who created us and carries us through it all. My aim in this season of not really understanding is to let go of the image of what my life could look like by now and trust Him; to be so caught up in my own path and getting to better know a God who crafted and understands my heart that I don’t have time to compare; to be so grateful for every uphill climb and small miracle that has gotten me to where I am today that I can cheer on my friends and celebrate their victories, trusting that my story has been crafted just as intentionally and perfectly, without lack.