Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and it was our first one as a married couple. Which was just lovely. We exchanged nice gifts and had a special breakfast together. After work we spent time just sitting together, chatting and enjoying each other’s company before making an easy dinner and watching a romantic comedy. It was perfect.
And that makes me feel guilty.
I’m sensitive and I have a big heart and so whenever things go great in my life, I have this feeling that I shouldn’t really talk about it because it might make others feel bad. I know because I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been that single girl who was trying to forget it was Valentine’s Day because it was just another reminder of my alone-ness, and boyfriend-less-state. My heart has always known I was made to be a wife and mother and so I felt unfulfilled. I looked at others who had amazing things going for them, especially in the relationship category and I felt a little tinge of jealousy. I felt a little bit like God was looking out for them more than He was looking out for me.
And maybe it’s not fair to assume others feel that way about the good in my life, but my own experience is all I have to look back on. Plus complaining is popular. Being a victim gets you attention. So whether or not they feel it deep down like I used to in my heart, I hear other people bemoan the state of their lives. There are blogs, and Instagrams, and tweets, and whole Buzzfeed articles of people complaining, even in a joking way, about how they’re “so alone” or “such a hot mess” or any variation of those.
So I feel like I should hide the good things of my life away. Keep them in my little apartment and in my heart so they can’t be seen.
But “that can’t be healthy” I’ve had to tell myself as I process this conundrum. I have to remind myself that I can’t “make” anyone else feel anything. Other people have choices about what they allow to sit and either fester, or grow beautifully in their hearts. Just as a couple years ago, I made the choice to allow jealousy into my heart, I could have also made the choice to be grateful, or to be happy, or to let it go in a courageous act of trust! But I chose jealousy. And that’s on me and my conscience, not on anyone else who may have shared what good things were happening in their lives.
I can’t take the blame for other’s feelings. I think that’s step one to not feeling guilty about the good things. And I would say that step two is to remember the hope that good stories give. I want people to look at my life, and any good that they may see, and have hope. Maybe in that sense I’m actually adding some good to the world in the form of hope when I share the great things of my life. Not because I want to brag, but because I want to say, “hold on, God intends good things for our lives, and He can bring good out of anything!”
Which brings me to my last point — for all the good in my life, there has been trial. For every gift Dan gives me, He also had to put in extra hours of work that can put a strain on our relationship. For the beautiful, loving moments we share, we had to first work through a lot of insecurities, and distrust, and vulnerability struggles. I may have a wonderful husband but I also dated a lot of guys who broke my heart. And that’s left some scarring. It’s all part of my story.
I recently heard someone say that every time a woman with a big family gets pregnant it must be so heartbreaking for the woman who deals with infertility. “Oh wow, I thought… I should be careful of that. I should tread lightly if I ever get pregnant because my pregnancy announcement could hurt someone.”
But then another woman responded by saying, “yeah but you’re negating what a struggle it can be for the woman who has high fertility — the strain on the couple who is trying to avoid pregnancy because of finances, and stress, and health… but who gets pregnant at the slightest slip up. That’s a cross too.”
There are two sides to every coin. The good you see, also has another side. We do each other a disservice when we minimize people’s lives to only what we see on the outside. There’s more.
So I think the answer is this: we can’t make judgements based on only what we see. What you see in your life right now as negative and sucky — remember that God can make good come of it. It’s part of your story. Whatever good is in my life, don’t assume that’s the whole story either. But also have hope.
Because we are made for goodness. God does want us to experience fullness of life here on earth in order to have glimpses of the fullness of heavenly glory. Sometimes we have to choose what will see, and choose what we will allow in our hearts — whether that’s gratitude, jealousy, happiness, or victimhood. It’s up to each of us.
You Are Enough
Don’t ever forget that okay? You are beautiful and precious and deserve good things — and I can’t tell you that enough! Look I even dedicated a side-bar-box-thing to it. God has a plan and a purpose for your life and He died and rose again because He wants to spend forever with you! Okay, read on. Important reminder over.
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Love & Relationships
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11
I needed to hear that if I wanted to have a healthy, happy relationship with a man, I needed to become that kind of person myself.
People are broken and material things and experiences are empty in comparison to the God of universe whose love is bigger and better than anything.
I don’t have all the answers, but if you ever feel stuck in communication with someone you care about, here are the phrases, questions, and words that work for us.