We are Once Upon a Time fans. I know, probably not any surprise considering how much we love Disney and embrace fairy tales. Last season the writers creatively connected Wizard of Oz characters to the Storybrooke scene. If you watch the show you’re with me already, if not, hang in there, this post still has something to offer. Do you remember how the Wicked Witch became green? Well, Once Upon a Time told us her and the Evil Queen, Regina, were half sisters. Regina was favored, in the fact she wasn’t abandoned by their mother as the Wicked Witch was, and furthermore, because Rumpelstiltskin chose to make Regina his apprentice over the Wicked Witch. Creating the perfect soil to sow seeds of jealousy. Hence the saying, “green with envy;” the Wicked Witch began to gain her color.
I realize it’s mostly just a saying, but I feel a bit saddened when I hear the phrase, “I’m so jealous.” Philippians 4:13 is often quoted, but look at the scripture right before it, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” Philippians 4:12 (NIV). Look at those words, “the secret of being content in any and every situation…” This is why I use the word “sad” to describe how I feel when I hear people so freely express feelings of jealousy. No matter how little we have, we can still count what we do, and no matter how much we have, there is always someone who has more. For me, it’s an issue of contentment.
But recently I identified with a feeling of jealousy and it became real to me from reading this passage.
“Jealousy isn’t a character trait that we sing about or write about often. We ignore it because we don’t understand it. Jealousy has a negative connotation because for us it’s usually the by-product of pride. But jealousy is a beautiful expression of God’s love. It’s a jealous love that wants all of you- all to Himself. And if you’ve ever been in love, you know it’s the most passionate form of love there is.” Mark Batterson, All In
I rejoice that the jealousy I felt was not rooted in pride. The words came off the page to me because they are basically words my husband and I had ourselves said in regard to our family vacation. We are fairly guarded when it comes to taking time for our family. We budget in a family vacation every year. We put money back each month as if it were a bill to pay. We strive to avoid what Ellie and Carl did from the movie Up who never made it to Paradise Falls, because they had to keep busting their coin jar for unexpected needs which would arise.
A few months back my Mom made a comment in good humor, but I took note. She said, “One thing is for sure, when you want us to go you invite us and when you don’t, you don’t.” I felt a little selfish. We didn’t want anyone to go with us this year. We hadn’t had a vacation with just our kids in three years. We have less than five years until our oldest will graduate from high school and we all know how the nuclear family changes after that. Brandon and I love when our parents have joined us on vacations. Like in January 2003 when my Mom & Dad and Brandon’s Mom & Dad went with us for Brooklyn’s first trip to Disney World. It was a trip we’d never get to all do together again. My Dad passed away two years later. Another one was in September 2012 when Brandon’s parents, my Mom and my Aunt all went with us to Hawaii to celebrate my graduation from nursing school. I kept saying, “I am so thankful we all are here together.” It was such a celebration, a gift of being together, much of which we had sacrificed for my time at OU.
But as much as we have loved having those big family vacations, it adds a different dynamic to the trip. Our attention is divided, in good ways; nevertheless, still divided. This time we wanted to give all of our attention to our children and we wanted them to give us all of their attention. It sounds selfish doesn’t it? It sounds like we’re jealous for them? And honestly, we are.
I get it. I get how the Lord is jealous for us. Exodus 34:14 NIV, “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
“God isn’t just jealous. And when God says something more than once, you need to think twice about what it means. You don’t belong to God once. You belong to God twice. Once by virtue of creation. Twice by virtue of redemption. He gave us life via creation. And when we were dead in our sin, He gave us eternal life via redemption. We don’t owe Him one life. We owe Him two lives! And that is why God is doubly jealous.” Mark Batterson, All In
In reflecting on the eight days we had with our children, I’m glad we’re jealous for them. I’m glad we’re over the top about allotting time together. I’m glad we don’t allow them to make family vacations, friend vacations. I’m glad we go without some things through the year, to go all in for a week. What we got in return? Seeing Brooklyn and Caden walk through the park holding hands on day 2 and still seeing those moments when Jaron took Gavin by the hand on day 8. Brooklyn giving Gavin a piggyback ride when his little legs just got too tired. Sharing Caden’s massive ice cream sandwich while waiting on the Spectromagic parade. Getting in an enormous family sized raft at Blizzard Beach. Standing in lines and talking. Observing the magic come alive to our five-year old and still see our oldest impressed.
It doesn’t have to be Disney. It’s not about Mickey or parades or fireworks or delicious dinners. It’s about focusing on the precious people we have for the priceless yet limited time we get.
Seasons change. Enjoy each one as it comes. Soak up the moments. And remember, as much as you want to be with your children, so your Heavenly Father wants to be with you.
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