My whole life, I dreamt of being a wife and a mom. I had career goals and aspirations but I didn’t want those things if they were separate from getting married and having kids. A family of my own. That was the ultimate dream.
But as life often goes, I had to wait. And most of my close childhood friends did not. They married their high school sweethearts. I was a bridesmaid or sang at their weddings. I was happy for them and I was excited to someday find what they had found. Sure, I wished it was happening for me, too. But I was hopeful that I’d find my man in college.
College came and went. I dated a few guys but I didn’t find my husband. It seemed like everyone else did though. The months after college felt like a jewelry store was on parade before my eyes. My newsfeed was full of proposals, engagement photos, and beautiful weddings. I should have been happy for all of my friends and a part of me was. But it was getting more difficult.
It wasn’t just disappointing. It was hurtful. It hurt to see another friend get engaged. It hurt to listen to their proposal stories and wedding plans. It hurt to throw them a shower or plan their bachelorette party. To pile on top of the weddings, many of my friends were having babies, too. They had what I wanted. All of it. And I wasn’t getting it. I was starting to wonder if I ever would.
I began to hate social media. Snarky thoughts would creep into my mind. Isn’t that a perfect little family? Well, aren’t they lucky? Ugh, do they have to post a picture of their “adorable” kids EVERY day?
Jealousy talking. Bitterness speaking. Loud and clear. I didn’t want to become bitter and cynical but my hurting heart was real.
I started taking my pain to God. I didn’t know why God was making me wait but He was. HE was. It wasn’t my friends’ fault. They weren’t trying to break my heart by sharing their blessings and their joy. They were celebrating what God had done in their lives! As they should!
And honestly, I knew that someday, if I did get engaged, I’d likely post the picture on social media, too. I’d be so excited that my joy would just spill out (it did, see photo of my sister rejoicing with me). And, yes, when I finally had a baby, I knew I’d be guilty of oversharing photos of my “adorable” child (and I do).
Romans 12:15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Sometimes, the rejoicing part comes easily. Other times, it is so difficult that it hurts. Sometimes, other people’s joy causes us pain.
But God says to rejoice with them. The only way I was able to do this when I was hurting was to cry out to God about my pain in private so that I could rejoice with my friends in public. I had to give my pain to Him daily. Sometimes hourly. And I had to ask Him to change my heart. Take out the snarky, sarcastic and jealous thoughts and replace them with His truth.
The truth is that He’d blessed me in so many other ways. The truth was that He was in control of the timing of my life. The truth was His plans are better than mine. The truth was: these are my friends! How could I NOT rejoice for them?
It wasn’t easy. But jealousy, bitterness, and cynicism are not from God. Don’t buy into the lies that they tell you. I don’t know why God gives to some of us, takes away from some us, and makes some of us wait. But, I do know that at different points in our lives, we all find ourselves in each of those circumstances.
If you are in a season of weeping or waiting, pour out your pain to God and ask Him to help you rejoice with those who are rejoicing around you. I’m so glad that I didn’t let bitterness completely over take me.
Bitter didn’t make me feel better. Instead, it stole any joy I could have felt with those closest to me. It would have alienated my relationships and ruined me. I’m so thankful for God’s strength and grace during that time in my life. And for dear friends and family who let me cry on their shoulders when I needed them.
Which brings me to my last point. Are you currently in a season of rejoicing? Be sensitive to the fact that your joy may cause others pain. For every new engagement, there’s a woman struggling with singleness. For every new pregnancy, there’s a woman who’s experienced a loss or infertility. For every proud parenting moment, there’s a mama out there with a wayward child. Celebrate your blessings but don’t forget to weep with those around you who are weeping. Reach out to them and grieve with them. Pray with them. Notice their pain and give them some love.
“…Blessed are those who weep now, for you will laugh.” Luke 6:21