By Jane Thornton –
My sister is disgusting. I’ve told her this fact numerous times—in the most loving, Christ-like manner possible. Allow me to enumerate: As a gifted artist, she is planning her third year of art school in Florence, Italy. She majored in music, has written several beautiful melodies, and sang in a Christian band during college – and at my wedding, by the way. This year when she joined my family for Easter, she brought a gorgeous yellow pantsuit, perfectly tailored, which she whipped up the day before.
In spite of the fact that at the age of three she trimmed her eyelashes to nubs, she has lush, long lashes that frame deep chocolate eyes. She’s smart, athletic, and she weighs less than I do.
Throughout our lives, the only claim to superiority over her I had was my year and a half lead in age. That sad truth is no longer a benefit.
The demon of jealousy has plagued me sporadically through the years. Fortunately, as a rule, I managed to roll along content with my lot—mostly because we were blessed with loving parents who highlighted our varying strengths. In fact, they took pains to treat us all equally.
However, in a family of modest income, this equilibrium was not always possible to maintain. I remember clearly the summer before my senior year gritting my teeth as I admired the five new shorts outfits Nancy received in order to go to cheerleading camp. (I was too chicken to try out). That ugly monster had me firmly in his grip, and I’m pretty sure I gave in to some whining about how unfair her luxurious increase in wardrobe was.
I will say, my jealousy slash envy did not quite edge into covetousness (thin line, I know). It’s not that I didn’t want Nancy to have bright new clothes. I just wanted them, too.
You’d think thirty years later, I would have matured beyond such pettiness. And, again, I would say on most days, God has taught me to be more than content with my very blessed life. Yet this year, in the middle of my sincere rejoicing over the publishing success of two friends in my writing crit group, Satan stirred up an ounce of dissatisfaction. I want success, too.
I imagine God cringes at the whine in my thoughts.
He continues to help me be like Paul who said he had “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12b NIV). And how many times must I remind myself that God has a perfect plan fashioned for me? The confidence in His fulfillment of this promise allows me to genuinely “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15 NIV).