Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Woman at Target

(not to be confused with The Target Lady)

I don’t text and drive (I promise, Brent) but I do have a problem with texting and shopping.  In some ways, this is just as hazardous as it’s certainly no easier to steer a shopping cart with one hand than it is to drive that way.  Earlier today I was in Target, Cartwheeling with one hand and haphazardly pushing my cart with the other, when I had to stop dead in my tracks for a couple of toddlers in the aisle.  Then I heard a voice say, “Mom, wait for the babies!” I looked up and saw there were five small children: the toddler boy/girl twins who had originally caught my eye, the young girl who was calling for her mom, and a brother in between, plus a newborn on Mom’s shoulder.

Five,” I thought to myself.  I’m pretty sure a few other shoppers were casting a sideways glance and making a similar observation.  However, while my wide-eyed glance may have looked judgy or rude, the truth behind my pause is that I was jealous.  Not just a little jealous, a lot jealous.  Let-me-stop-to-stare-for-a-moment-and-see-exactly-what-it-is-that-you-have-and-I-don’t jealous.  This woman looked sweet, respectable, intelligent, and amazingly put together to have five kids in tow.  My next, and all too familiar, thought was, “Wonder what God sees in her that He doesn’t see in me.”

The irony of this situation is that I never wanted five kids.  Two, maybe three, but if someone had told me when I was 20 that I was going to have five kids, I probably would have avoided marriage altogether to avoid the risk.  I’m perfectly happy teaching twenty-five kids for six hours a day, but if I had to keep five children alive for 24 hours a day, I’m honestly not sure I could do it.  It wasn’t about the number of children, or about the fact that they were adorable, well-behaved, perfectly spaced out age-wise and looked a lot like their mama.  I was jealous because she got what I wanted not once, not twice, but FIVE times.

Recently I described it this way to a friend: Every time anyone I know announces they’re pregnant, this feeling of abandonment and desperation washes over me.  I feel like an actor in an old movie, deserted on an island, waving my hands and jumping up and down, shouting at a propeller plane in the distance, hoping to get noticed and rescued.  Only the pilot never sees the stranded person on the first flyover and the person is left there alone and exhausted, breathing a deep sigh of disappointment, scrounging around for nourishment, wondering if they’ll ever be rescued. 

While I’ve come a long way in accepting and learning to embrace God’s plan for mine and Brent’s life, I don’t think these moments of jealousy, resentment, and sadness will ever completely disappear.  The fact remains that there’s something I want (desperately) and while I can’t have it for whatever reason, other people get it—sometimes without even having to ask—every single day.  It’s hard not to feel like God is flying right over my desperate pleas, looking the other way, maybe even choosing not to hear my cries.  But that’s where I’m wrong.  These emotions warrant strong adjectives because they ARE strong AND unwieldy- the jealousy is biting, the resentment is deep-seated and the sadness can be overwhelming at times.  But they are emotions, feelings…they are NOT truth and how much power I give them is up to me.

The truth is not found in that jealousy that wells up inside me in Target.  It is not found in that resentment and sadness that I still (much to my dismay) have trouble handling when a friend announces she’s pregnant.  All our minds and hearts battle with fact and fiction continuously, but the only sure place to find truth is in God’s word.  1 John 5:14 reminds me, “And this is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 


It’s not that the lady at Target is better at catching God’s attention than I am and it’s not that He cares more about what others want than what I want.  It’s not that God doesn’t hear me or doesn’t like me.  It’s just that His will for my life is different than His will for theirs, sometimes five times over.  And that is okay.  Lest I forget…

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