Bidding Farewell to the Things that Hinder

Kelsey shared her pictures on Facebook from her recent vacation and her excitement over her adventures was squelched by someone chastising her for spending too much money on her travels. This led her to explain herself. She shared how hard she and her husband work in their family business, how she searches for deals on accommodations, and how she saves at every turn. I ached for her as she tried to give an explanation where none was due. 

Jealously is a fiery hot weapon.

It burns anyone it comes in contact with, whether you hold it or it scorches you in the hands of others. 

We've an independently owned coffee shop in the downtown business section of the town I live in. It opened earlier this year and a few months ago I heard murmurings of a second coffee shop opening not too far from my new favorite one. On the day it opened we visited our favorite coffee shop. I walked in and said, "I heard there was a new coffee shop opening in town today so we came here," trying to add a little humor to what I was sure was a little upsetting to Sarah, the owner. 

Sarah paused and then said, "I can't focus on what others are doing or it'll derail me. I just stay in my lane and do my thing." She later told me that she'd learned that phrase from Lindsay, the blogger, barista, and hired manager of the coffee shop. I can't remember the last time a conversation resonated with me as much as this one did.

These ladies, twenty years younger than me, have learned one of life's most valuable lessons. I wish I'd learned this at such a young age, it would have saved me from being my worst enemy.

My mind battles with these thoughts on a regular basis:

"Look at her success..."
"You're never going to make it..."
"Why do you even try?"
"Are you sure God told you to do that?"

The walls close around me as I self talk the room smaller and smaller. 

I can see clearly when I take the focus off of myself and put it on the task at hand. The world invites me to engage and the doors all appear open in front of me. 

I've been on the opposing end of jealousy as well. It's obvious when another is holding something against you that is so outlandish it can only be defined as jealousy. I've caught the eye-rolls and have heard the whispers, sometimes even said to me. 

Marcie used her insecurity and jealousy to put me down in front of people at church on a regular basis. One morning she approached me and demanded to know why I wouldn't hug her. "Don't you like me?" she asked. It was hard to reply because, no, I didn't. I'd never had a positive interaction with her and as she physically backed me into a corner I knew I had to end this once and for all. With few words I let her know I wasn't going to be controlled by her behavior. She didn't magically change after that, but something in me changed, and I've learned that our behavior is the only one we own. We can't change what others do and how they perceive us, we can only change how we respond to it. I can now understand when someone acts out in jealousy and, though it still burns, I can see it for what it is and I can then begin to pray for them.

It doesn't go away at the snap of a finger. This is why the Bible tells us to act this way,
"Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV)

Take every thought captive.

When I see myself drifting out of my lane, when my thoughts wander to places they shouldn't, when the jealousy or bitterness starts to creep in, I need to capture the thought and get rid of it as quickly as I can. This is a daily action I need to take. The enemy knows where my weakness lies and he will shoot arrows at me any chance he gets.

Keeping my lane free from jealousy and the destruction it reaps leads to spiritual maturity. I'm not saying I've conquered this, only that it's a daily battle. It's recognizing my need to surrender each day. 

"Lord, help me today to focus on you and not on those around me. Their thoughts and words can derail me, I need only concern myself with your opinion of me. Help me to do what you've called me to do and not worry about the details."


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