Jealous

I received my first call to a church less than a month after my 25th birthday. The church wanted a young pastor, guess what? They go one! This meant, however, that the first decade of ministry was spent with the expression from others, “You’re so YOUNG!”

I didn’t have a response to this. It’s like when you’re 9 billion months pregnant and someone says, “You haven’t had that baby yet?” You want to retort “does it LOOK like I’ve had the baby yet?!?!?” (and expletives also filled my head). 

“You’re so young.” Yes. Yes, I am. I am an amazing accomplished young adult. I grew up and have gotten along better with adults than people my own age since I was 8. I was called an “old soul”. Life circumstances made me “wiser beyond my years”. At 25 I had been living as a self sufficient human being for more years than should be acceptable.

However, saying that because tiresome and downright rude, so I thought about it.

“You’re so young!” a person would say, “Oh, you’re just jealous!” I would say in a flirty but authoritative way that said, stop projecting your assumptions onto my age and judge me on my merits, also, I’m fun!

Yesterday my boyfriend and I went to see the movie, Don’t Think Twice. It’s about an Improv group who has been together and they’re all trying to advance their careers, it’s a movie about being not-so-young anymore and wondering what the meaning of “success” is.

After, as we drank Sangria and ate Tapas we discussed this ying and yang of jealousy and competitiveness. There are some people made for a certain thing. In this instance one of the characters “made it” on to the Saturday Night Live type show. He was a showman, he was good with the scripted but not as good as some of the others with improv. However, he had “made it” and the others hadn’t.

Earlier that day, I was going through my mail at work. There was a large catalog for church books, which of course I was pouring through. A couple pages in, side by side, were two books my best friend’s from Seminary had written.

In seminary the three of us were besties from the first year. Faith, like mindedness, snark, and a limited number of outlets in the classroom brought us together. (literally, we fought over the one accessible plug, three of us for two plugs and yes, we did get an extension chord).

As I look back on that time I think about Paul in his Letter to the Romans:

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. -Romans 12:6-8

I was not jealous of my friends, I loved them and love them still. I want good things for them. I was them to succeed and be happy each according to their own gifts.

I do not say this to be pretentious. I have certainly been jealous of things my friends have done, but that jealousy comes from seeing that they carved out the time, or they made certain things bigger priorities than I did.

For instance, I am jealous of people who play the guitar, but I am smart enough to know that if I put the time and effort into learning to do so, I would. (side note: this type of jealousy excludes things we have little to no control over such as pregnancy).

They have done great things, but so I have. Each in our own way, according to our gifts.

I don’t get jealous easily but when you turn to competitiveness, I become enslaved. Jealousy has to do with having something someone else wants. I guess life has taught me that nothing comes easy for anyone, and if it does come easy than there are issues with that (entitlement, for instance). There’s always a catch.

Competition is different. Maybe it’s because I don’t go after something unless I really want it. Competitiveness hits me at my core. It’s personal. Why would someone want them, when they could have me?

Yes, I am this egotistical.

When my “Kool Kids” (yes, this is what we called ourselves, and specifically made the ironic “k”) respective books came out I was proud of them, I also felt this pull of jealousy/competition, (what had I done with my time since Seminary? should I be writing a book? Is that what I’m supposed to be doing?) It was about me, not them.

There is a scene in the movie (which I am going to get wrong) where one of the characters tells the mopey “why wasn’t it me” guy that he should stop looking to the one who “made it” work on his own strengths instead of relying on his friend to get hima  ticket on the success train.

This was a blip of a scene in the movie, but very poignant.

If you’re jealous of the people you are in competition with, then spend that energy focusing on yourself. What’s the saying? If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, then water your own grass.

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No one’s marriage is perfect. No one’s got it all figured out. If you want something, go for it and if you don’t get it or it doesn’t work out, reflect, regroup, and redirect your attention. (yeah, I totally just came up with that! See I’m awesome!)

Focus on yourself in healthy doses. And then, with confidence, the next time someone gives you a backhanded compliment you can exclaim with joy, “You’re just jealous!”

(You can buy Kool Kids books here and here. and we were cool way before Echosmith was even born…)

Joseph Prayer Stations

Guest Blogger Today! Ashland‘s intern Katie Jasa put together prayer stations for yesterday’s service and did a great job.  More on the rest of the service soon.  Until then, here are the stations inspired by the Story of Joseph and his family.

Prayer Station #1: Woven Prayer

Location: Communion Table

Our church is woven from all of our lives. Together, our passions and our desires form the material of our community. When we worship, we bring all of ourselves forward to God; our joys, our fears, and our needs.

·      What has happened this week that you want to celebrate?

·      What has happened that you want to mourn?

·      What worries do you carry in your life?

Write a joy or concern to share with the church, and weave it into the communion table loom. Share what you write with someone around you; commit to pray for them this week.

 

ImageImageThis prayer station was inspired by this blog (http://theresaecho.com/2012/09/20/interactive-way-to-pray-in-worship-part-ii/). Our station served as a way to have written Prayers of the People. I was surprised how much of the makeshift loom got filled up – there were prayers filling the front and top, and also woven on the back of the communion table.

 

Prayer Station #2: Food for All

Location: Sanctuary

Hunger continues to be a problem in our world today. Bread for the World estimates that there are 925 million people in the world who don’t have enough food to eat, including 29 million Americans. Think of the people who live far away from good food, and the people who can’t afford healthy food. Look at the pictures taken by Peter Menzel of one week’s worth of groceries for families around the world also take time to read the scriptures throughout the sanctuary.

·      What does it mean to have enough food?

·      What does it look like to be hungry?

·      What does God call us to do about hunger?

Look at the list of products that Sarah’s Hope gives out to their clients. Choose an item to bring next week, and write a reminder for yourself.

ImageThis prayer station included pictures from Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio’s book Hungry Planet, which is absolutely fantastic. Hungry Planet has a large variety of photos, so I tried to include families of different sizes and incomes from around the world. The pictures were interspersed with scriptures about hunger and food, both from the Joseph story and elsewhere. Our church has an ongoing mission relationship with Sarah’s Hope, which provides temporary housing for homeless women and children. Having each person read the grocery list for Sarah’s Hope and volunteer to bring food next week helped to bring home the need for food justice in our community.

 

 

Prayer Station #3: Coats of Thankfulness

Location: Hallway

Jacob loved his son Joseph, so he gave Joseph a beautiful coat of many colors. Gen. 37:3

·      Who loves you?

·      Who takes care of you?

·      What are the wonderful things that people have done for you?

·      Think of all the people you are grateful for, and of all the gifts they have given you.

Glue pieces of tissue paper onto the picture of a coat, thanking God for something each time. 

 

ImageThis idea was on several blogs as a Sunday School craft. We printed out a coat outline from here (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1uo0DTsIL8M/UHDfnIVh1eI/AAAAAAAAAkI/x4MAlPrBTlc/s1600/coat.jpg) and then used the craft as a way to express thankfulness. This station was the only one specifically geared towards children, although we had plenty of children participating in the other stations as well.

 Prayer Station #4: Grains of Life

Location: Sanctuary

When Joseph’s brothers were starving, they went to Egypt to get grain for their families. Today we are nourished not only by food, but also by our faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us in John 6:35 that “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Touch the grain and think about what sustains you in your life.

·      What do you need?

·      Who do you depend on?

·      As you pour the grain into a pouch, reflect on how you are nourished. Take the pouch with you to remind you of Christ’s love.

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This station began as a general idea from this blog (http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/hunger-prayer-station.html). I wanted to have a station about what feeds us emotionally, as well as one that focused on physical hunger in the world. Eventually the ideas about physical hunger became station two, and the grain became a tangible way to remember what nourishes us as individuals. We used a whole-grain hot cereal mix from an organic market.

 Prayer Station #5: Reflections

Location: Classroom #5 (across from restrooms)

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. Gen. 37:3-4

 Think about the people you are jealous of in your life.

·      What about them makes you envious?

·      Is it a way they act, or things that they have?

·      Write about what makes you jealous.

Look at yourself in a mirror.

·      Where is that jealousy reflected in the way you live?

·      What fears and desires cause it?

·      Write where you see envy in your actions.

As you look at your reflection in the mirror, consider how God sees you. Think about how God sees the real you and loves you, petty thoughts and all. Let go of your jealousies, and accept that you are enough for God.

We wanted this station to focus on jealousy, and to serve as both a confession and a pardon. This post (http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/reflecting-gods-love.html) had some great ideas about using mirrors to think about God’s love for us, which became part of the stations’ ending. Since this station was one of the most introspective, we put it in a separate classroom.