Carla is Jealous of your Facebook Status

Carla: So many wonderful comments! I feel like we could spent a week of posts talking about each comment and still not exhaust the layers and layers of these topics–grief, guilt, expectations, relationships…. You are truly wise women and we are so glad you’re here!!!

As I’ve been reading your comments, I’ve starting thinking about another issue Caryn and I have talked about a lot: jealousy. Not that I see that in your comments, but I think it’s a big part of this expectation and loss issue. For me, at least, the pain of loss or unmet expectation is compounded by my belief that someone else has what I want. I want a Pottery Barn house and a Norman Rockwell Christmas because I think other people have them and that those people are therefore happier, calmer, richer, closer, thinner, and everything else I am not that I wish I were.

It was one thing when those “other people” were abstract homeowners in the decorating porn magazines and catalogs. Now, they are real people who remind me of their fine and happy lives via their Facebook updates. It can be anything from “Caryn has the house to herself for a week!” to “Caryn’s husband just surprised her with the best Valentine’s Day gift!” to “Caryn is sick and staying in bed all day.” (One day we’ll do a whole post on the bitterness that comes with illness).

I know it’s so petty. I know. But we’re being vulnerable here and the truth is that there are times when the goodness of someone else’s life hits the little places of disappointment in my own. I don’t begrudge others their goodness–not in the least. But I think the instant access we have to other people’s lives can, in many ways, play into the looming losses with which we all struggle.

Caryn: As much as I enjoy that you are jealous of me and my FB status updates, I DO want to point out that the ones you listed were made up (by Carla—just now). My Valentine’s Day gift this year consisted of being able to go grocery shopping alone at 7 o’clock at night after a full day of cleaning and birthday-party prep while my husband spent a morning at a board meeting and the afternoon with our older son at Monster Jam. Go ahead and be jealous of that, though.

But, oh yeah, THIS is a huge problem area for me. I know I have a problem because I was once jealous of a 55-year-old male colleague’s FB update that said he was “sitting on his back deck, with a glass of wine, eating roast duck.” Last week, I was jealous of a friend who was eating “steel-cut oatmeal.”

Mind you: I hate duck and I don’t even know what steel-cut oatmeal is—or why or if it’s any different than the regular Quaker. But I was JEALOUS of the fact that [note to writing teachers: I KNOW there’s no need for “the fact that.” I just like it better] these people were—at the time—seeming to enjoy a quiet meal and some simple peace. Both of which are “losses” of mine, as Carla wrote about.

I am, of course, also jealous of anyone who writes about going to their cabin (Carla!) or reading quietly next to a fire in Door County (Melinda!) or heading to some sunny, warm place (half the friends I have!). Again, this taps into something I deeply long for.

But truth be told: I’m also jealous of the most random things. Some make sense (the cabin). Some none at all (the duck). But whether or not they make sense, it’s all wrong to do and a total waste of time. Especially because I know better—that just because one person has one element of her life that I’m envious of, it doesn’t mean that all is rosy, or pefect.

And of course, were I to have access to that thing of which I were jealous, it would mean I would need to swap out something of mine. Which I really don’t want to do (though I HAVE batted around the idea of giving up one of my kids for lent. Just to see…..).

So why do we do it? What helps us get over this? Why is it so hard to simply acknowledge this jealousy as signaling a loss and deal with that?  

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123 responses to this post.

  1. […] HENHOUSE POTTERY wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI want a Pottery Barn house and a Norman Rockwell Christmas because I think other people have them and that those people are therefore happier, calmer, richer, closer, thinner, and everything else I am not that I wish I … […]

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  2. Posted by not a mom on February 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Steel-cut oats are quite tasty.

    Roast duck….not interested.

    But Facebook….and jealousy. You’ve touched on something huge here.

    Because Facebook is sort of this weird world — a world of oversharing and husband-gushing (or husband bashing…ouch) or a rose-colored status update world.

    I think jealousy is a huge struggle for many of us, but Facebook has changed the battlefield. But it’s not a real world. It’s great for connecting and e-mailing and sharing, but sometimes when I get jealous of someone’s beautiful family photos or their amazing vacation, I have to remember that Facebook is just a snapshot.

    The photos and the vacations and the statuses are real, but they aren’t the full picture.

    I’m stumbling through this comment, and jealousy would be with us even without facebook….I’m eager to hear what others have to say before I start rambling.

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  3. Posted by Cindy on February 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Oh my gosh, you are singing my number one sin! And I haven’t outgrown it yet! I’m jealous of friends’ successful children. I’m jealous of their nice houses and cars. I’m really jealous of their trips to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods while my car is parked at Aldi. I’m jealous of fire places, handsome husbands who cook or wash dishes and discipline children. I’m jealous of smart people who are successful at work and climb the ladder rapidly. I’ve spent 10 years jealous of “gym moms” who drive Escalades and don’t flinch at the humongous gym fees and travel expenses. And don’t care if their kids are the best at all, they “just want them to have fun.” I’m jealous of skinny people, or I was until I had cancer and got “skinny” (relatively–for me). No answers here, my friends. Just jealously. Ick.

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  4. Posted by Carla on February 16, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I think the place I want to get to is not even the one where I remember that a FB status is not the whole picture of someone’s life, but the place where I don’t care if they have a fantastic life. I want to figure out how to be content with who I am, with the life I have, regardless of anyone else. And really, most days I am. That’s why the status update is such a sneaky little monster. I can be having a lovely day and then someone just has to go and roast a duck.

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    • Posted by Content/Gym mom on January 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm

      In my opinion, the key to be “content of what you have or you are” is totally up to you. One thing that i can share to you is to find some time just on your own and do some “reflection” time and ask yourself with really basic, basic Q’s like: Do I have everything i need to raise a happy, healthy & content family?, Do I feel good about myself?, What are my major ‘priorities’ in life? & SELF ACCEPTANCE…….I ADMIRE YOU BY THE WAY TO BE HONEST AND ACCEPT THAT YOU ARE INDEED ‘NOT CONTENT’ OF WHO YOU ARE. THAT IS A BIG HINT THAT YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON AND THAT IS VERY GOOD START FOR YOU TO CONTINUE DOING SOME REALIZATION……Good luck!

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  5. Posted by not a mom on February 16, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Do we all struggle with this, even those who seem to have it all together?

    I strongly suspect women struggle with this more than men. Am I right? (How we love to compare ourselves to each other. And yes, it’s ugly.)

    It’s probably one of the enemy’s most highly effective tools for destroying community.

    The funny thing is that the people I used to be jealous of who have let me into their world, NOT just their Facebook world, but their real world and have let me see their cobwebs and their dirty dishes and have let me celebrate life with them … something happens. I might still long for the things or blessings that they have. But we’ve built ties that help with the jealousy. Maybe that’s why Facebook can so easily fuel the problem. Because we can’t see beyond the screen.

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  6. Posted by Steve B. on February 16, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    I’m jealous of people who read lots of books. I don’t know what that’s all about. I guess I could read more books but truth is, I’m a really slow reader. I once read “Crime and Punishment” because it’s a good friend’s favorite book. I wanted to love it, but I’m just not THAT guy. I prefer “The Giving Tree” and “Where the Wild Things Are”. I think I am of slightly above-average intelligence, but you would never know it by looking at my bookshelves. How’s that for neurotic?

    p.s.

    Steve B. went to a matinee with his daughter and ate a hotdog.

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  7. Posted by not a mom on February 16, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Great post Carla, and a great comment. I read a great book that talked about contentment as a muscle that you have to exercise, and I love that picture. (My contentment muscles atrophy quite quickly.)

    I think they are worse than triceps, even!

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  8. Posted by not a mom on February 16, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Give me “Charlotte’s Web” over “Crime and Punishment” any day.

    Except then we can’t talk about roast duck/geese/pig.

    OK: My jealous confession. I am jealous of friends who met their spouses in college or high school and had years to get to know each other and never had to endure blind dates or computer matching. (Man, if you think Facebook is a confusing world…..well, that’s a whole different story.)

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  9. Posted by Elizabeth on February 16, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Jealousy is the green-eyed monster. It seeps into our lives in the most insidious ways. We can blow off someone’s Facebook status as self-inflation or a snapshot of what they want us to see about their lives. But what of the jealousies that trip us up in our daily lives? Those that tap into our insecurities and make us feel like we’re not good enough or that our own lives are somehow substandard. Understand yourself and make your desires about what you need and want, not about someone else. Surround yourself with people you love and who love you. Most importantly, loving yourself and believing in God’s love is what will lead to happiness.

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  10. Posted by Steve B. on February 16, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    My wife of 13 years was my first (and last) blind date.

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  11. Posted by Steve B. on February 16, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    That didn’t make her sound dead, did it? Because we’re still together.

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  12. Posted by not a mom on February 16, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Happy to know she’s still alive, Steve B! (I didn’t think she sounded dead….)

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  13. Posted by not a mom on February 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Carla, I especially like this comment in your post.

    And how to we fight this, especially when grief and loss ARE real…..?

    “I know it’s so petty. I know. But we’re being vulnerable here and the truth is that there are times when the goodness of someone else’s life hits the little places of disappointment in my own. I don’t begrudge others their goodness–not in the least. But I think the instant access we have to other people’s lives can, in many ways, play into the looming losses with which we all struggle.”

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  14. I believe that a key piece of jealousy (for me) is the fear that I do not now (nor will I ever) have enough. A friend of mine recently commented that I’m constantly resisting where I am and what I’ve got. When I’m single, I resist dating. When I’m dating, I resist who I’m dating. When I have a great job, I want a different one. . . And I’m jealous of the contentment that others have when I don’t feel content. Is it because I don’t think I deserve to be content? Or is it just simply that I can’t always get what I want, and that bends my nose out of shape?

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  15. And don’t even get me started on match.com. Good heavens, is that annoying.

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  16. Posted by not a mom on February 16, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    To Michele: Don’t you just want to scream when everyone tells you to just go online and find someone great….? I think maybe we’ve both been a little jaded by the online “scene.” I know it works for some people….and yet…..Maybe sometimes what we call discontentment is restlessness? I don’t know. Just thinking out loud here. I sense from your posts that we’ve been in similar places in life. (And yes, I’m single and didn’t want to be, and fighting that jealousy is HARD, especially when my married-mom friends tell me that they want those gifts for me, too.) Is it jealousy or just honest longing, especially when biology is involved? I don’t pretend to know the answer. But I know that it’s probably not just jealousy that makes a wannabe mom cry when she hears a new baby wailing in the next pew.

    I’ve read such stories of heartbreak and infertility and grief on this blog. And there is such community in sharing that. And vulnerability about jealousy is brave ground.

    I appreciate people’s comments.
    ——————————————————–
    I’m also jealous of people who can dress well from thrift store finds, you know, those women who have a personal sense of “style.” Now HOW petty is THAT????

    And I used to be jealous of people whose laundry is always neatly folded. But then I decided I just don’t have that gene and I should probably just get over it.

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  17. Posted by April G. on February 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I don’t feel like I have anything profound to say today, and I am jealous of those who do! I am jealous of those with dishwashers (TWO of my facebook friends mentioned new dishwashers today!) I am jealous of those who can pay their bills. I am certainly jealous of those with bigger, cleaner, more organized houses. Caryn, I think you are right when you say jealousy really is about a deeper longing and fear. Somehow, having a clean house is tied into my self-worth. And because I don’t have one most of the time, I don’t feel content with my life. I am afraid of our current financial situation, and so I am jealous of those who aren’t. Again, self-worth is involved here. How deep does this all go? It really isn’t about what you have; it is about me not being enough.

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  18. Posted by April G. on February 16, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Probably the best thing that helps me refocus when I am jealous is to remember the two months I spent in India. I have far more than most people who have ever lived. That makes me feel blessed and also gives me a sense of responsibility rather than entitlement.

    “I cried because I had no shoes until I saw the man who had no feet.”

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  19. randomness …

    Isn’t it interesting to consider that the people we are jealous of .. are either jealous of us (right back attcha!) or jealous of someone else?

    I am forever saying that “I look better on paper” so while my life (in snippets) looks really fabulous, it’s really … not. Well, snippets of it are fabulous. A lot of it is not, though. Isn’t that really how it is for everyone? Maybe not for the thin, rich women with well behaved Gap-model looking children. But, you know, for the rest of us.

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  20. Posted by April G. on February 16, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    I am actually related to one of those thin, very rich women with a relatively well-behaved (at least he is quiet and calm) child. And she is one of the people I am least jealous of. (Well, I would like her body, her money, and a quieter child.) But honestly, I would not want her life. There is a lot of stress and performance that comes with high society. I’ve seen it enough to know it is certainly not for me. I would be miserable.

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  21. Posted by Cindy on February 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    April, you just reminded me about a friend I had (we’ve lost touch now). She was everything I’m not. Beautiful, well-off financially, professional husband, four beautiful children, well-behaved and smart and talented. Gorgeous big (clean) home in a gated community. Neat Christian woman, deeply spiritual. Desperately lonely. Afraid that if she let any one of her plates crash to the ground, her “friends” wouldn’t like her. She didn’t know if any of them really liked her because they didn’t know her, just the face she showed them. Apparently she felt comfortable with me because I was none of the things she and her friends were. But she knew I liked her, and I wasn’t jealous of her–her life was too much work. We can’t take just the status, we have to take the whole life. Truth be told, I don’t want any one else’s life. I want mine. I just want to feel that other people think my life is valuable.

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  22. Posted by Stacy B on February 16, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    When my husband was in seminary in New England (we were poor, of course, but didn’t realize at the time exactly how poor because our lives were so rich), I used to take long drives so that the kids could nap. This is before facebook but not before jealousy! The long drives would be through the winding roads of New England – with those beautiful estates or with beaches in their backyards.

    I envied houses. I want a big, luxurious house with room for as many people as I could ever want to visit in one setting (and that could be several – hundreds, really). I want a large yard with room for as many people as I could ever want to visit in one setting.

    When I would return from my “relaxing” drives, I was often in such a silly state – jealous. And I call it silly because MY HUSBAND WAS STUDYING TO BE A PASTOR. How realistic would it EVER be that I could own one of those houses? Never. But I would stew and stew. Maybe some rich wonderful parishoner would give us a house some day. Ha!

    The funny thing is that the houses that I envied would never work for me – I hate to clean!

    We now live in North Minneapolis; it is a great house with lots of versatility. It is not huge; the yard is anything but large. In fact, small doesn’t really cover it.

    We are happy in our home; people visit it often. And my house envy has subsided some. Sometimes, envy “crops” up because we go looking for it. When jealousy becomes an issue, it is time to keep the car parked in the driveway, to take a break from Facebook, and to look at what we have been blessed with and by – chances are we are still richer than we could have ever dreamed.

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  23. Posted by Carla on February 17, 2009 at 7:57 am

    I think Cindy hit on something essential in this whole jealousy thing–affirmation. And I think that ties back to what not a mom asked–what do we do when those longings are real?

    It seems like we get jealous of those things to which we have somehow assigned value–pretty houses, time alone, husbands, babies, exotic vacations, disposable income, etc. We envy things that matter to us. I don’t think it’s really the house, it’s maybe the lack of financial worry or the longing for more time with the people we love that a big house represents.

    In some ways this goes right back to the cult of the family. There is so little value placed on being single, so little respect offered to the childless, so little acknowledgment of struggling families or lonely mothers that it plays right in to the sadness or frustration we feel about those parts of our life.

    And of course, we Christians tend to have a hard time letting other people hurt–we want to brush their pain away as quickly as possible. But that can be so dismissive of the real causes of that pain. I imagine that when those of you who are single have expressed envy or sadness or frustration about that, you’ve often been told to remember all the great things about your life. I know I’ve been guilty of saying that to friends myself because it seems like it will help them feel better. It doesn’t.

    I’m not saying we ought not count our blessings. We ought. But I think we can be better about affirming both the great things we see in each other and the reality that life is often very hard.

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  24. […] bookmarks tagged jealous Carla is Jealous of your Facebook Status « The Mo… saved by 2 others     nicbh bookmarked on 02/17/09 | […]

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  25. Posted by Robyn on February 17, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Yet another one of my friends is pregnant. Sarah, Amanda, Jessica, Kristi, Kimberly, Tiffany. All pregnant. But I’m not. Still. Now, I have a daughter that I love and treasure. So is it selfish of me to be madly jealous and disappointed every time I read that another one of my friends drank the water? It usually takes me a couple of days to get over the feeling, to remember that God has a plan and he KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING. Doesn’t he? I mean, there’s a reason, right? There must be a reason that I may only have one child. There must. It’s the only thing that brings me comfort. Resting in the knowledge that God is in control. Always in control. And he knows me much, much better than I know myself, so he does what is best for me. I just need to trust him. And treasure the gifts that I have with contentment, and without the taint of longing for more than he has given.

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  26. Posted by Bookgirl (formerly not a mom) on February 17, 2009 at 11:24 am

    OK . I’m changing my name, at least on this blog. I felt a little weird initially posting on a mommy website, so I just wrote “not a mom” at first, but then I realized I’m doing exactly what singles HATE, and that’s defining myself by what I don’t have and what I’m not.

    I am really struck by the vulnerability and wisdom on this thread.

    For me, one thing that helps a lot with envy over very real longings is celebrating over good gifts in other people’s lives. There is a disclaimer here. I know women who can NOT go to baby showers or Mother’s Day services, for example. The emotion (I’m not even sure it’s envy, but the intensity of the emotion/longing/biology) takes over, and they don’t want to cause a tearful scene. So they have to do what’s best for them, and maybe they take the mom-to-be to breakfast and give her a gift in private.

    Please don’t judge these women. They don’t want their own longings to overtake someone else’s special event.

    I happen to love baby showers and weddings, but yes, I know the sigh (or sometimes sobbing) that happens in the car AFTER the blessed event. (Envy/grief/loss?)

    And bringing this thread back to Facebook. I have really appreciated when my close friends have let me know about pregnancies/engagements with a personal e-mail or a phone call rather than in a status update. I know status updates are efficient and all, but sometimes hearing big giant news firsthand helps with the “celebration” part of the formula. I love that they took the time to e-mail me personally or make a brief phone call. (I know this is a tangent, and I won’t dwell here.)

    And Carla, you are SO right: We envy things that matter to us. I was thinking about this the other night. I live far from my family. I look on Facebook and envy all the group photos and family picnics and birthday parties. (From my own extended family and others’.) I’m missing out on those. That’s just the way it is. But those pangs are envy, too. Envying what matters to me.

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    • Posted by WantMore on July 22, 2009 at 9:07 am

      Thank you for posting this; I also struggle with occasions for other people. I am happy for them; they are my friends and family. But I want that too. I want a full life with plans and kids and practices and school functions and diapers and discipline and toys on the floor. I want money in the bank and to go on vacation like EVERYONE else I know. I want to participate in Halloween and Easter instead of just being there to help out and clean up. I want to be the REASON for the baby shower instead of a guest. I want my boyfriend to hurry up and give me a ring and set the date so random men will stop flirting with me, and I want it to be a big one. I want a real house with family vacation pictures on the walls. I want to have real, adult events, posts, and updates on my Facebook page like everyone else I know, instead of being 32 years old and only having random party pictures or updates about my nieces and nephew and other peoples’ events. Jealousy and envy are ugly emotions that are difficult to overcome. I do not have a hard life, and I have accomplished a LOT to be proud of in my 32 years. But I am ready to move on to the next stage; there is so much missing in my life. I want the attention others get. Unfortunately once the majority of women in a certain age group or friend group are married with children, the ones that remain without are somehow not legitimate. I know some of the married moms envy those who are still single and free to come and go, but are they really? Would they trade what they have? Probably not. Do those single unattached friends really jet off to exotic places and sleep with beautiful men and have amazing sex? Probably not. They are lonely, as am I. I love my boyfriend and am excited about the plans we are making, but it seems like it’s so far away that it will never happen…

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  27. Posted by April's Sister on February 17, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Sometimes, I prefer jealousy over acceptance and thinking that this is what God had planned for me. It can be a bitter pill to swallow to think that he would WANT me to have this much pain and sorrow in my life. So I just choose to believe that I was handed a raw deal, and therefore I tend to be jealous of the families that others have.

    It is funny, because Robyn said that she is jealous of her friends’ mulitple pregnancies when she only has one child, and I’m jealous of her one! And in turn, someone is probably jealous of me NOT having children. It is all relative. I’m jealous of my sister’s beautiful, tantrum throwing children, and she is jealous of my infinite free time, and neither of us begrudge the other.

    I don’t necessarily think that there is any sin in that jealousy. God put these desires in our hearts when he created us. And I also don’t think that these fleeting feelings of jealousy are wrong unless you begin to dwell on it and conspire to fulfill your longings through less scrupulous means.

    Will I ever learn to be content with being childless? Probably not. Or at least, at this point in my life, I can’t forsee that ever happening. But that’s okay, because I don’t think that contentedness in that area is a prerequisite to my happiness in life.

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  28. So much good stuff here I barely know where to start—or how to chime back in. Jealousy is SUCH a huge issue in my life, it’s not even funny (or, often it’s not).

    But I appreciate a couple things from Bookgirl: 1. That you ceased defining yourself by your role or relationship and 2. That you talked about the women who don’t go to Mother’s Day services or baby showers. I TOTALLY get why they wouldn’t. While I understand the difference here—as you wrote, it’s not simply because these women get “jealous” that they stay away—there are plenty of things that go on around me that I do not go to because I know my envy or other emotions will overtake me and bring me to a bad, pointless place. Just wanted to add that.

    And April’s Sister: Rock on. Your statement “God put these desires in our hearts when he created us” is, I think, one of the most trampled on things about God going today. And you’ve nailed something important: That often we dismiss or accuse people of “jealousy” when they’re just aching with the desire God put there.

    I will not say that God gave me my desire for a cozy lake house (especially since so many people on this planet desire a simple shelter and don’t have that!), but he did give me that desire for peace and calm and beauty—which is most of my jealousy stems from.

    So I agree with you. Your longing for children, your wishing you had what seems to come so easily for others, is less about being envious than feeling your God-given desire.

    Carla was right in her opening line of this post—we DO have the best readers and commenters. I wish we could all hang out in person.

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  29. Posted by April G. on February 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Wow, that was good, Sis!

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  30. ok i’m late to this discussion, but i’m laughing out loud because how timely! just about 30 minutes ago, i went through my FB “friend” list and deleted about 160 of the 300+ people on there. and i feel liberated. i just got sick of reading certain people’s updates, some of which were annoying and some of which made me jealous.

    it’s not exactly like fitting into my too-small bikini, but it is pretty close! 🙂

    and re: the jealousy thing, i am jealous mostly of people who are skinny. i have found, though, that when i am honest with the women in my life, i find that i’m not alone in the jealousy. and i am a (sometimes brutally) very honest person. i just can’t help myself. it feels so great to admit my faults, admit that we can’t pay our electric bill, share that my husband and i fought all weekend, say out loud that sometimes i don’t like my kids. even if the person i’m sharing with doesn’t have a response right then, it seems like somewhere down the road it helps others around me open up and share their jealousy/weaknesses/struggles.

    and then i don’t feel so alone.

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  31. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    April’s sister: You rule. You absolutely rule.

    “I don’t necessarily think that there is any sin in that jealousy. God put these desires in our hearts when he created us. And I also don’t think that these fleeting feelings of jealousy are wrong unless you begin to dwell on it and conspire to fulfill your longings through less scrupulous means.”

    Thank you for your honesty and bravery. I feel like whenever I’m this brave, I get trampled on. Or I’m told to make sure I aim for “better, not bitter” and to go immerse myself in one more ministry or missions project so that the ache will go away.

    The hard, sad truth: My non-Christian friends are FAR more understanding. Maybe because they are less likely to spout platitudes (or lies).

    ————————————————————

    And as long as we’re talking about Facebook, here’s a commercial break. FB added features that allow you to screen out status updates from people who “overshare” or aren’t from the people who aren’t part of your inner circle. Lots of good privacy/safety info here, too. Maybe many of you know this, but I’ll share anyway.

    http://www.nytimes.com/external/readwriteweb/2009/01/30/30readwriteweb-how_to_friend_mom_dad_and_the.html

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  32. Posted by Amy on February 17, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    I wish Seinfeld was still around because FB would make a great episode. I can just picture Jerry and Elaine making up and posting exciting things about their lives and then getting “found out”. Wait…that gives me an idea…my life can be anything I want it to be – just post it on FB and it is so.

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  33. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Amy: On facebook you are a CIA agent, right? Or a superhero…..

    And to add to Caryn’s thought: “There are plenty of things that go on around me that I do not go to because I know my envy or other emotions will overtake me and bring me to a bad, pointless place.”

    I’m curious about what simple, concrete things people have done in this vein. Because staying out of bad, pointless places is a very good thing.

    I know people who throw the decorating catalogs right in the recycle bin. I know others who used to go to the Parade of Homes and remodeling showcases for entertainment but then stopped because they always left feeling sad. (Incidentally, I know plenty of people who CAN go to those events, along with auto and boat shows and are just fine afterward.) Obviously, I do NOT want to compare these things…houses/cars/boats with the pangs April’s sister and I were discussing earlier, because it’s unfair and unwise to compare those, but I’m curious.

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  34. Posted by Cindy on February 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Two things I avoid immediately jump to mind: college class reunions and Target. Both feed the feelings of inadequacy (reunions) or the need for stuff to make me equal to those who have what I want (Target). I read the alumni magazine only sparingly. Also, since I took my daughter out of club gymnastics, life has been SO much more manageable on many levels. So much less of the cars, trips, homes, lives I don’t have.

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  35. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Those are great suggestions!

    I guess I’m lucky. My high school and college never had reunions. I’m with you on Target. I recently read that some people go to Walgreen’s or the corner drug on purpose, even though it’s a little pricier for TP and shampoo, because they won’t be tempted by slick displays or a lot of stuff they don’t really need. (No offense to all my friends who make a living at Target….)

    My weird confession: Back in my not-so-distant dumpy apartment days, I was jealous of people with A/C. Like ridiculously jealous. And one summer it was crazy hot (yes, it does get hot in Minnesota), and I would go to Target every day just for the A/C. When I started buying small appliances I didn’t really need, I started hanging out at the library instead. I think I used the blender for one summer, and the waffle iron once.

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  36. sadly, i avoid relationships with most moms. this is the only thing that has kept me from feeling like i need to be in competition with their lives/kids’ lives. but that is depressing to think about and admit.

    i DO need moms in my life, and i have some (a few) who live far away and with whom i can be absolutely myself/real. but i struggle with meeting moms in the town where i live that i trust enough to be myself around and whom i think will encourage me to be myself instead of secretly hoping i keep these extra 10 pounds on my hips or celebrate my daughter’s testing out of the gifted class or feel better than me when my husband goes 18 months without a job.

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  37. I also avoid relationships with a lot of moms. I used to do it more than I do now—I just can’t handle the competition. Not so much on kids (I KNOW mine are the best–ha!ha!), but on the focus on material stuff. I just can’t stand to be in groups of people who only talk about houses and shopping and vacations. Not only can’t I compete there, but it numbs my brain. So it all works out really.

    And Pottery Barn Kids goes directly to the recycling. Does not pass go. It’s a ridiculous temptation for me—they make me really believe we’d be happier or better or something if my kids had those cool looking rooms.

    But back to the mom thing, Kristi: It IS hard to find people with whom you can just be yourself…. A constant struggle for me, too. When you find them, hold on for dear life.

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  38. Posted by Cindy on February 17, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    On an unrelated Target note, I always joke that I go in for a package of toilet paper and come out with $100 worth of dishes. Never fails! I call it my $100 roll of toilet paper.

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  39. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I am jealous of people who cook. I know how to cook and love to. But cooking for one is well….not very efficient and to be honest, slightly depressing. That’s why I have parties. If we all lived in the same community, we could have a Mommy Revolution party.

    No roast duck. I can’t pull that off, though.

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  40. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    On the issue of jealousy: I’m a huge fan of Larry Crabb.

    In one of his books, I’m pretty sure it’s “The Pressure’s Off,” he has this incredibly honest chapter about how jealous he is of another gifted and very famous Christian author, one who is his FRIEND, nonetheless.

    I’m paraphrasing, but it was something like: If only I had the lovely retreat home in the mountains that my friend does….if only I had more time…THEN I could really be great and win awards.

    Now, Larry Crabb is a very strong writer and an incredibly honest, melancholy soul who speaks truth amid lies. But when I read that chapter and saw this giant of the Christian publishing world admitting that he was jealous of his talented friend, I thought: I respect him even more now. Cause he’s not playing the Christian-pretend game. So few people in the spotlight admit to the kinds of snares we all struggle with.

    That chapter meant more to me than any sermonizing about “don’t be jealous, now!”

    (It’s a great book, by the way. There’s a lot of freedom in that one, and in “Shattered Dreams.”)

    Reply

  41. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Cindy, you can bring your Target dishes to our Mommy Revolution party, OK?

    Reply

  42. Posted by Angie on February 17, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    My last facebook status was: my butt was on the news! Now, I know you are all jealous of that! (Luckily You would only know it was me if I told you so, but a good 5 seconds of my kilted backside!)
    I think jealousy can be a positive thing, it can be motivating, and it can show you how much you love something or someone. I agree with April’s sister, some of those desires are given by God.
    I also know that I try to mainly post positive status updates. I have posted a bad day or 2, and boy, do the arrows come flying! (one day I said I was sick of my crabby husband, and his aunt didn’t like that…..) I also try to be a positive influence in my friends lives, there are plenty of negitive things out there for us, we do not need to add to them.
    Bookgirl, you can cook for my family anytime:) And I agree that sometimes it isn’t jealousy it is grief. (NOT bitterness)

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  43. Posted by emily on February 17, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    i would recommend de-facebooking. it’s quite liberating!

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  44. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Oh Angie, I’m laughing so hard.

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  45. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    ….about the kilt episode. Not about a crabby husband.

    Interesting take on jealousy as a motivator, though, instead of something that poisons you from within. Hmmm.

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  46. Posted by Cindy Schwerdtfeger on February 17, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Great posts, everyone! Jealousy is one of those sins that God knew that we would have issues with since He put it in his Top Ten list (thou shall not covet). It seems that it is in our everyday life from our job, our house, our marital status to even car and clothes. I understand about not going to a Parade of Homes because once you do it, you think about all the neat things that others have & you do not. But really, it comes down to contentment, peace and being grateful for what we do have. Even Paul’s statement about ‘learn(ing) to be content in whatever the circumstances’ is such hard concept at times when we are truly NOT HAPPY with the current circumstance. It comes down to being content with what I do have now and being thankful. Having a new car is one thing that I have often coveted. I have accepted what truck I drive now because it is PAID for and I don’t have the payments that all those new car owners have. Instead, when I am looking at the cars along the freeway as ‘car shopping’ for the next one when this one dies. That way I can have an idea of what I want ahead of time, and enjoy the ride as I ‘car shop’ on my to/from work. It has made my car rides a lot more enjoyable. We can long for these other things but if we dwell on it (one of you said that earlier) then we are placing our focus on the thing (covet) than keeping our focus on God, THE one we are to worship and glorify.

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  47. Wow, Carla, you did get something started here (I saw it on your FB status update…)
    As I read through the comments I started to think about two of my very best/dear friends. One is taller, thinner, a better v-ball player, a dentist, handsome husband, works 3 days a week for better balance in her life, dresses to the nines, travels to three exotic destinations a year and has been a significant part of my life for 18 years. The other friend has an incredible singing voice, is smart as a whip, freelance writes from home so she can spend a ton of time with her kids, is funny, has 750 FB friends and counting, is happily married, three beautiful children, a couple of masters degrees and has been a dear, dear friend for 28 years….I work 50+ hours a week, run children like crazy, only sing to my children,have little down time, am sitting among a pile of stuff to do (and distracting myself with FB and this blog) and could live in sweat pants and a sweat shirt. However, I could easily be jealous of these two women for all of the things they have. I am so thankful that I have been able to love them and be part of their complete lives so that what could be jealousy is love, respect and admiration. When jealousy creeps in I try to step back and count all of the wonderful things in my life (I love my job, kids, husband, friends, God and life) and trust that God blesses us all and challenges us all in many different ways. I am not trying to simplify this common emotion of jealousy, I am just trying to remind myself that sometimes the people that are so easy to be jealous of can turn into friends who bless my life.

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  48. Posted by Heather on February 17, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Kristi: Thank you, and I know what you mean… “it feels so great to admit my faults, admit that we can’t pay our electric bill, share that my husband and i fought all weekend, say out loud that sometimes i don’t like my kids.” It does feel good, though I’m not sure why.

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  49. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    So much wisdom here. And this has become quite a thread. So I’m sorry if this sounds repetitive.

    I’m trying to separate out some of what has come up in the postings. And I’m asking this question carefully and I hope humbly….because I know Paul talks about contentment in ALL things.

    Contentment over what one has or doesn’t have when it comes to houses/cars/vacations/boats is one thing.

    But what about the soul-shattering losses of infertility or the death of a child? And yes, I’m thinking of April’s sister and the story she bravely shared a few posts back. And I’m thinking of Angie’s comment.

    And I’m selfishly thinking of myself, too. As I single, I’ve heard the “be content” message my whole life. And it might sound envious or ungrateful of me, but I have to confess that it rings hollow, like people don’t know what to say, so they just say “be content,” or worse “God will bless you once you’re content” (huh???) instead of saying “I’m really sorry you don’t have a family. I think you would have been a great mom.”

    I think about one of my best friends, someone I could easily be jealous of. She has an amazing husband and three beautiful children. We have been walking this Christian road together for a very long time.

    And one time she looked at me and said: “I know we both really wanted families. And I don’t know why God blessed me with a husband and kids and not you.”

    And yes, I’m know I’m darn blessed to have her as a friend. You can all be jealous!

    Reply

  50. Posted by Delle on February 17, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    What a relief to read this blog and the comments! I actually called a counselor today to get in to talk about my depression regarding my own Facebook rejection and envy. It is the worst thing for me to see friends comment on everyone else’s profiles, comments, and notes, but not on mine! It brings back a life time of hurts and difficult times. Silliness really, but I let it get to me until it leads me into a downer that affects how I live my own life! My husband has already said he wished I had a better self image.

    I already feel very…I don’t know, perhaps relieved that I am not alone in this struggle. Thanks for assuring me that I am not alone! Now if we can all shake it!

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  51. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Delle — You are NOT alone! When I first joined Facebook, I remember feeling that way: Everyone is having fun but me! What’s wrong with me? But I’ve literally filtered out the comments/posts that aren’t as important to me (see the earlier link) and it’s been much more fun.

    And I’m convinced that some people in my circles try to outdo each other for the silliest status updates. It takes the “edge” off of the envy-inducing posts that are out there.

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  52. Posted by Bookgirl on February 17, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Bookgirl thinks all her friends should check out the mommy revolution blog.

    Bookgirl thinks Carla and Caryn and everyone on here are asking brave questions.

    Bookgirl is glad Steve’s wife is not dead.

    Bookgirl loves/hates Facebook at the same time.

    Bookgirl loves oatmeal but not roast duck.

    Bookgirl is logging off and is eager to see what people have to say later.

    Reply

  53. Al is coming late to this thread, but Al just wanted to share a Facebook group that identifies various Facebook personalities (including the Extrovert, the Activist and the Baby Show-off):

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=21467052554

    Al is also addicted to Facebook and is terrified that God will make him give it up for Lent.

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  54. Posted by Betsey on February 18, 2009 at 9:23 am

    What a fabulous blog, ladies! I wish the Internets had existed when I was in the thick of the childrearing years, living in a tiny house in an (often) smugly affluent “Christian” suburb, and struggling to reconcile my evangelicalosity with bad-girl attitudes.
    Now that my daughter is married and we were able to leverage our equity from the tiny house to a larger place, I’ll be honest: part of me does not miss those years. We are better off financially. For me, at least, life IS less stressful with a nicer place. I was never quite able to reconcile the reality I saw all around me with a seemingly-abstract affirmation of being “content in all things.”
    And I love having an adult relationship with my daughter, who is one of God’s amazing creatures. She has said that she thinks her compassion and insight stem partly from “when we were poor.” So here is a thought: perhaps God did not put me in those circumstances to make ME better — but to make HER better.

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  55. Posted by Lori on February 18, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Ah, facebook. Source of such angst. Blogs are another source of great envy for me. A few weeks ago I had to delete my link to someone’s blog who has such a beautiful life I was addicted to reading about it and sick with jealousy at the same time. It had to go!

    Facebook and blogs are tricky – whenever I try to be real and honest by reporting the not-so-pretty side of life, it sounds like I’m whining and negative. I just don’t have the knack for making these things sound funny and silly. (I’m so jealous of people who do! ha!) So I see it as a great way to look on the bright side and find joy in the little things. How great is it that a simple bowl of oatmeal has the potential to create a moment of peace and pleasure in an otherwise harried day?

    I think it’s important to not dismiss our desires as sinful jealousy. Rather than repressing our desires, isn’t it healthier to explore why we have these desires, what life would be like if we actually got what we want, and decide that either a) we don’t truly want these things after all, b) we do want them and should do what it takes to achieve what we want, or c) live in the tension of wanting something we cannot have by our own efforts. Obviously, living in the tension is the least desirable. Sometimes life just sucks. We don’t have to pretend that it doesn’t, and we don’t have to feel guilty for wishing it was different. Of course we want life to be better – why else do we have faith?

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  56. Posted by Juana La Loca on February 18, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I am coming late to this thread but the posts have been so full of wisdom! Thank you all. I am reminded of something my mother has on her fridge. It says something like this, “Almost all of our unhappiness comes from comparing ourselves to others.” I am now convinced that this is true. How much time do I spend doing that? Probably way too much. Facebook status updates do not help. They do help me stay connected with the people that I care about and they do stimulate conversation so I don’t want to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” so to speak. I have been thankful for reconnecting with old friends I lost touch with over 30 years ago and a cousin I now “talk” to every day instead of only once or twice a year. But I do want to strike a balance with reconnecting in a real way (not something artificial) and this tendency toward envy.

    The most helpful way for me has been to help those less fortunate. Then I am also struck with the comparisson of my life with theirs. I don’t know why it is so easy to compare my life with a life better than mine. That is the most natural comparison, right? But if I make an intentional effort to compare “down” then I have nothing to complain about. Contentment comes easily.

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  57. Posted by April's Sister on February 18, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Lori, I think you really hit the nail on the head for me when you said “Sometimes life just sucks. We don’t have to pretend that it doesn’t, and we don’t have to feel guilty for wishing it was different.”

    I think that when people just brush aside these desires with a half-hearted statement about contentment, they are failing to see the forest through the trees. Jealousy is not the same as coveting. Coveting is a sin and God tells us so. Jealousy, however is moreover discontent with where you are in life.

    What if everyone were content? There would be no innovation, no strive to make oneself any better. I almost get this idea of people just sitting there stagnating in life because we are all so content, why would we try to change anything?

    Pretending to be content with everything feels like trying to ignore the mosquito biting you on the nose. Your desire to bring things into your life that you don’t already have is very real and it isn’t wrong unless you begin to dwell upon it and let that jealousy turn into something dark and covetous.

    As I said earlier, jealousy is just a natural desire to acquire what you don’t have and I don’t think it is sinful. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with not being content either especially when there is a very real ache and longing in your heart.

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  58. I’m late to the party… What a great post. And you all got into a great discussion while I was on Amelia Island in a fabulous beach house with gorgeous views. You should all be very jealous. 🙂 It was an amazing trip & I’m so grateful to my friend who invited my children & me to be with her for a few days. I’m trying to not be jealous of the fact that her parents own this house and she can go there whenever she wants…

    Can’t wait until I have a chunk of time to sit and read through all of the comments here. Regarding fb… I often come up with status updates in my mind that I know I could never post, but wish I could. For example:

    Charlotte is so excited that her son can now wipe his own bottom after he has a bowel movement. She no longer has to deal with other people’s sh!t on a daily basis.

    (My apologies for the bad language. Sometimes I say bad words. I’m jealous of people who don’t. C&C–please feel free to delete this comment if you need to…)

    Reply

  59. i have a very funny friend who coincidentally posted a blog about this very subject today: http://amommystory.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/hannah-is-sooo-over-facebook/

    enjoy!

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  60. Posted by Bookgirl on February 18, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Think about Christmas letters. There are the sweet ones, and then there are the 3-page single-spaced bragfests.

    I skim the long ones and cherish the sweet ones. But the long ones are STILL hard. And with Facebook, we get the equivalent of holiday brag letters from all corners of our world, every second we’re on the computer….without even a cute photo to put on the fridge.

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  61. Posted by Bookgirl on February 18, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    April’s sister; I am loving how you draw a distinction between jealousy and envy….and contentment with what I would label apathy.

    I think the church has created a lot of confusion here. Because what’s often communicated is that contentment equals complete inaction.

    In extreme but very very common examples, singles have been told to wait and pray and be content and God will bring them a spouse. And yes, this is a whole other topic that fills up blogs and shelves in Christian bookstores. I grew up with this teaching. And you know what? Guys did, too. To the point that no one was asking anyone out….they were waiting and praying and being content. But no one was really content at all. They were confused. In some cases, they were using “contentment” as an excuse, covering up their fears.

    Now, I am not dismissing prayer or waiting on the Lord. Please do not misunderstand me. But imagine applying that to so many other areas of life.

    Don’t send out resumes. Don’t network. Just pray and wait on the Lord for a job. And be content.

    Don’t send out college applications. Don’t visit campuses. Be content. Wait and pray.

    The sad thing is that many Christians, including myself, I confess, get stuck in this thinking. And if we label it contentment, it gets blessed, somehow.

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  62. Posted by Bookgirl on February 18, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    And to Lori:

    I am loving this. Living in the tension of the middle place is SO hard, isn’t it?

    I think it’s important to not dismiss our desires as sinful jealousy. Rather than repressing our desires, isn’t it healthier to explore why we have these desires, what life would be like if we actually got what we want, and decide that either a) we don’t truly want these things after all, b) we do want them and should do what it takes to achieve what we want, or c) live in the tension of wanting something we cannot have by our own efforts. Obviously, living in the tension is the least desirable. Sometimes life just sucks. We don’t have to pretend that it doesn’t, and we don’t have to feel guilty for wishing it was different. Of course we want life to be better – why else do we have faith?

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  63. I’m not exactly sure how to categorize the thing on FB that drives me completely crazy. I don’t think it’s jealousy, necessarily, maybe more just an increased feeling of inadequacy. I was recently FB friended by someone who I haven’t seen since early highschool. We went to a small Christian highschool, so everyone knew each other (like graduating classes under 30 people). I didn’t have a particularly good high school experience either, so this mass friending by my past has brought up mixed emotions for me. This particular woman was younger than me and honestly when she friended me I had to dig through my memories and a few yearbooks to come up with who she was. But I accepted because what is the social protocol for stuff like that on FB? I still haven’t figured that out, but that could occupy a whole ‘nother post I’m sure. Anyway, I’m reading through her profile, cause let’s face it, I’m curious – gotta go through all the photos and info and try to reconcile these people from high school who I haven’t spoken to in 20 years with how I remember (or don’t) them. So I read through one of those FB get-to-know-you-better notes and she says something to the effect of “My kids have never spoken to me with disrespect – not once” and then she went on to talk about how thankful she is to God for this blessing whenever she goes to restaurants and observes other kids.

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! NEVER, NOT ONCE! First of all, I don’t believe her. Not for a second. I told another girl friend about this and she asked “Do you think she’s being sarcastic?” But I re-read the whole note and I think she’s entirely serious. I really should unfriend her, I mean who needs that sort of pressure in their life?? But on the other hand, she’s so over the top that I like to occassionally go over to her profile and get myself all worked up over other ridiculous things she has to say about her perfect life.

    Now, I find it reasonably easy to dismiss this woman’s measuring stick, but it speaks to more subtle stuff that I feel like I deal with every day. Comparing myself to other moms and coming up feeling inadequate. I have good friends, who I love dearly, who say things like “I miss my kids so much when they are at school” and “I could never send my ‘baby’ to all day kindergarten” “We can’t play today cause we’re going to bake cookies as a family” Moms that volunteer for every event their kids are in and go on every field trip. I love my kids, I know I do, but when they go off to school I don’t really think that much about them. If they have a playdate after school, I see that as an opportunity to get a few more things accomplished without refereeing fights. All day kindergarten — bring it on! 🙂 And cookie baking… I did it on Saturday with the 3 & 6 year olds — it wasn’t pretty. They were hanging over my shoulder and fighting and I could feel my stress meter climbing.

    In one particular relationship, I know the mom doesn’t want to make me feel badly. Though I get the impression that she thinks I’m not compassionate enough with my kids – is that a true reading of the situation or is it just my guilt? I don’t know. Am I just jealous that she feels that way about her kids and I wish I missed them more. I think it’s probably good that I don’t really struggle with letting them become more independent, but there’s still that guilt and inadequacy. I feel like often we are all trying to project an image of how perfect we are, which makes other people feel inadequate and we’re feeling inadequate because other people are projecting perfection…

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  64. Kim-I’m with you on this. You’re not alone. 🙂 In my opinion, I think it’s all of the above. I think some women probably judge us & think we’re bad moms, etc. I think some women are too busy thinking about how to live up to their image of the perfect mother to worry about how we’re mothering/viewing our children. I also think we have our own baggage that we project onto others–our expectations of ourselves are too high, so we assume others have those same expectations of us when they really may have more realistic expectations or no expectations at all. I’m so, so, so thankful for the few close friends I have where this isn’t an issue. One day I may be bold enough to speak up and talk about it with the women in my life who do give me that vibe. It might be good to let them know how it makes me feel to be around them & try to communicate about it all. Or it might be bad to bring it all up. I don’t know. Maybe I give them some weird vibe, too. Hmmm… Haven’t really thought about that part of the equation…

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  65. Posted by smile4ang on February 18, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Previously “Angie”
    Does anyone remeber “just do your best”? I found myself saying that to my daughter today. Isn’t that such good advise? Instead of being jealous of others, or so content we don’t act, If we all “do our best” I think that would help. We need to live our lives with intention and grace. Grace for ourselves, grace for others…. (I think that was a previous topic)

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  66. Posted by Bookgirl on February 18, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    And as long as we’re talking about FB: I’m guessing everyone has seen this.

    http://www.switched.com/2009/02/18/facebook-admits-defeat-retracts-terms-of-service/

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  67. Posted by Delle on February 18, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Growth results from assessing what hurts us, what we long for, and what our dreams are. Without digging in, how do we shape ourselves and attach ourselves to our dreams and goals? I do like the light at the end of that tunnel!

    In reality, I just need a few great friends that would be encouraging and honestly interested in my life! Ultimately, that is my goal; to be an encourager for people. I can give what I long for myself very easily.

    By the way, I admire your voices! Thanks for sharing!

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  68. Posted by Jennifer on February 18, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I was jealous of everyone with any form of pregnancy-related symptoms when I was infertile. Oh! For a taste of morning sickness! Now, pregnant, I cannot look skinny girls in the eye. Or worse, skinny, pregnant girls who still look cute and fresh. I could not be more pathetic! Or perhaps “vain” is a better word.

    Albeit, the former issue was from a deep desire that was not wrong, but the latter I really have no excuse for.

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  69. Posted by April G. on February 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Jennifer, it’s good to have you in the conversation! Welcome to the “revolution.”

    Along the lines of the facebook conversation: I recently uploaded a bunch of photos of my family (mostly the kids) taken over the last couple of months. I post a lot of photos on facebook because it is an easy way to share my life with my family, all of whom live in various other states. Lately I have also been going through quite the identity/mother crisis, as some of you may have recongnized via this blog. At any rate, the photos consisted of trips to various museums, baking cookies, playing outside, cute kid photos (my kids really are the cutest), and other activities. It occurred to me as I looked over the album that it made me look like I was some over-achieving mom (with all of the museum visits, etc…). I thought it was a little ironic considering I’ve been feeling less than adequate lately. My intention in posting the photos was very far from making me look good. And most who know me also know that I am honest about my struggles in motherhood. Though my status updates do often reflect truth about my ups and downs in mothering, glancing through my profile might give you a false impression of who I believe myself to be. So, if any of you happen to be my facebook friends, please don’t think I am more together than you are because I take my kids to museums. We leave the house so that my children don’t destroy it and I do not, in turn, beat them. Of course there is all that brain development stuff too, but really it is for our sanity and health. Happy facebooking!

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  70. Posted by Bookgirl on February 18, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Carla, you’re going to start twittering, right? Then we can be jealous of that, too!

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  71. Posted by Bookgirl on February 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    April G: I don’t think what you’re describing is the kind of over-the-top stuff that Kim is referring to.

    I know what she’s talking about because I’ve seen it. It’s almost ….disturbing. No sense of boundaries or privacy at all.

    It’s mostly younger people, but not in all cases.

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  72. Posted by Lori on February 18, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Delle, I think you’re on to something. Maybe if we’re all more encouraging of each other and voice our admiration of others rather than quietly resenting them, we’d all feel a bit better about ourselves.

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  73. April G. — I love to see all those photos that my friends put up. I’m a photographer my FB friends have the option of looking at about 39 different albums of photos of my gorgeous kids 🙂

    I’m definitely talking about the over-the-top stuff, where people just all out brag about how perfect they are. There are ways to say stuff, some ways work better than others.

    I’m really proud of my kids and I have lots of fun writing our Christmas letter every year where I talk about what our kids are up to. I try to do it with humor, a bit of tongue in cheek and also try to make sure it doesn’t sound like all I’m doing is bragging on my awesome life. Hopefully Carla will clue me in if I’m failing miserably in this endeavor and am just writing Christmas letters that make others want to hurl with annoyance!

    Anyway, I think that FB mom who bugged me could have written something like “I enjoy interacting with my kids” or something that focuses on what she enjoys about her children without passing judgement on a whole bunch of other people. But she didn’t do that. She made it about how her kids are superior to other people’s kids. Plus she said something that is just beyond the realm of ridiculous. I honestly wonder to myself how self-deluded she really is. Of course, I should probably also be worried about what insensitive stupid thing I’ve written on FB that someone else is ranting about somewhere on a blog 😦

    I think we all do this to a certain extent when we talk to each other in “real” life. At least I know I do this when I’m with another Mommy friend and we are talking “shop” — we’ll talk together about how we are raising our kids a certain way as opposed to “those other (generic) moms” who let their kids do the opposite of the values that we are trying to instill. It’s kindof this little club of “hey you and I are friends and part of this friendship is that we feel like we are both Moms who have similar philosphies” But on FB when you do that the implication comes across that you think you have it all together and that somehow you are superior to everyone else out there. If my conversations with my other Mom friends were broadcast to a really large audience I’m sure I’d come off sounding like a self-righteous bitty too. I’m hoping it’s not how she meant to come off, but that’s one of the joys (heavy sarcasm) of communicating with people over the internet where you can’t read their body language or hear their inflections!

    In her defense, she got like 10 or 12 comments where people gushed about how awesome she is. And maybe if I knew her, I’d feel the same way. That list might have come off very differently when read by a close friend rather than a complete stranger who happened to spend a year in the same building during high school.

    Reply

  74. Posted by karineyh on February 19, 2009 at 9:51 am

    April G…I am right there with you. I have often thought about what kind of life I am communicating unintentionally when I upload pictures of beach trips, playing at the park, making Christmas cookies, etc. It looks like we have fun all the time around our house. So NOT true! It’s just that when I take pictures we are usually doing something noteworthy. Maybe I should pull out the camera when my toddler is throwing a fit after I put his crayons up high on the shelf after coloring on the floor, table and playmat, or when I am cleaning the house before showering with bad breath and no make-up. That’s really more like what my daily life is like. Haha.

    I have a love/hate relationship with FB. I was a late-comer signing up because I had a mixture of curiousity and guilt over not doing it sooner. I tried it for about 2 months and often felt the same addiction/fascination/jealous feelings others have expressed. I moved three months ago and haven’t been on again, for no particular reason other than we had limited internet time for the first 2 1/2 months. After this discussion I have no desire to start the addiction back up again!

    What I struggle with is blogging. I live in another country right now and miss the U.S. a lot. I have the same love/hate feelings going on with my new culture that I shared earlier about FB. On days when I want to go home I can easily spend my son’s entire naptime on blogs of friends and strangers alike yearning for the life I see depicted. Wishing for the perfect American life just out of my reach across the ocean. On days when things seem pretty good here I find myself checking out blogs to keep up and share a little part of the lives I am missing. It’s these days that I log on with the right attitude. I think FB and blogs aren’t the problem, it’s usually what’s happening inside me the day I log on that can get me into the jealousy trap.

    I’m trying to find the balance between shared connections on a blog discussion (such as this) that can be so edifying, even if I don’t know some of the people personally, and living the reality of my life in the moment with the “real” people around me.

    I think striving for contentment is good, but also understanding we aren’t going to find it this side of heaven and letting that uncover a deep need for Christ is probably what God intends. Oh, how I struggle with this one on a daily basis.

    Reply

  75. i would like to interject (with a little fear of the backlash it might cause) that i love to cook (homemade stuff, bread from scratch, crockpot meals that take an hour to prep, with fresh herbs), i love creative projects (i am addicted to knitting right now), and i love taking photos that are artsy and sharing them on my blog.

    and i don’t think there is anything wrong with any of this. yes, i have to filter the blogs i look at and people i become true friends with because i want to be encouraged, not brought down. i want to be encouraged to leave the lifestyle of always wanting more, of striving to have more stuff, of being the skinniest, youngest looking, best decorated house, etc.

    my husband and i have been involved in some truly amazing church communities (unfortunately not at the moment…but in the past), and in these communities i don’t remember there being any pressure, any jealousy, just support and friendship and encouragement.

    i felt lonely at times, sure, and i am constantly frustrated with myself for not being a patient, loving, fun mom. but i have learned through sharing these feelings with close friends that EVERY mom has these thoughts, whether she’s rich, poor, pudgy, skinny, bakes/knits or works all day in the office while her kids are in daycare.

    and it’s only through encouraging each other that we will move past this wrestling with jealousy/guilt/envy and into a better place where we can celebrate the accomplishments of the moms in our lives.

    and if we can’t celebrate, and we see things that are making us envious, then i say remove those things from our lives. it could be a “friendship” that is empty or one-sided, where we do all the giving and the other person just sucks the life out of us or just constantly tries to compete. it could be facebook, which i am proud to say i closed my account yesterday! hooray! it could be blogs on our reader that are causing us angst when we look at what all those cool, stay-at-home, crafty moms do all day (i want to know what their husbands do for a living and sign mine up for THAT job…!).

    i do think that jealousy and envy are wrong, and when we don’t proactively fight against them, they will creep in and before we know it we’ll be consumed.

    Reply

  76. Posted by April's Sister on February 19, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I absolutely have to disagree, Kristi. I do not think that jealousy is wrong. As I’ve stated before, unless you start to dwell upon it and let it consume you, how is it wrong?

    These feelings and emotions that we have are the result of things that are missing in our lives and while I agree that we certainly shouldn’t sit there and stew about what we do or do not possess, brushing those longings aside is just as much a disservice to yourself.

    I ache for a child, but that doesn’t mean I am going to refuse to visit my FB friend’s profiles for fear that I will see pictures of them happy with their children. Yes, I’m jealous every time I see a pregnant woman. EVERY time! But I do not think that is wrong in any way, shape, or form. I think the jealousy is just a manifestation of the ache in my heart for something that one person has and I don’t.

    Sometimes, removing these triggers is much easier said than done. For me and for Bookgirl, that would probably involve secluding ourselves within our homes with no TV or internet. Obviously, that isn’t very realistic.

    The healthier solution, in my opinion, would be to accept these feelings of jealousy as a normal, God-given part of our lives and stop trying to pretend that they don’t matter or that we can simply “be content” with where we are at. It is possible to be happy, healthy, productive Christians while still experiencing the pangs of jealousy. It need not consume us unless we let it.

    Reply

    • Posted by WantMore on July 22, 2009 at 9:26 am

      ‘It need not consume us unless we let it.’ Wonderfully put, thank you! I sincerely TRY to overcome these feelings; it is a conscious effort to not let it consume me. I have a good life, but I also face jealousy and envy of most people I spend time with, mostly because I do not have children and am not married. My parents have been together for almost 40 years, my brother (a dentist) married a human Barbie doll (whom I adore and is one of my best friends) and they have 3 great kids and tons of money. My best friend is married to a doctor and only works when she wants to, and has a beautiful baby girl. All but 2 of my friends are married and have kids, and I feel like I have lost my place in our group. I still love them all and they love me, but when we get together I have nothing to talk to them about. One of my 2 unmarried, non-mom friends is in a long term relationship with an older, very wealthy man who already has kids, so she enjoys vacations, jewelry, romantic gestures, and his children without the labor pains and stretch marks :). It is impossible to avoid all situations that trigger these feelings of inadequacy; I am not a loner and refuse to just stay home and be antisocial. But I am 32 years old and still have a ‘boyfriend,’ no permanent home to call my own, and no immediate plans for the future once I finish graduate school. I have an impressive professional resume, lots of friends, a supportive family, and a man in my life who loves me, but I want to move forward! I’m so glad to read here that these feelings are OK!

      Reply

  77. Posted by Robyn on February 19, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I’m so sorry, April’s Sister! I didn’t mean to make you feel badly! I know I should just be content with my beautiful daughter, but sometimes it’s hard for me. I really DO NOT believe that God wants you to be in pain, and someday he will wipe all your pain away.

    Sometimes God chooses to withhold certain blessings from us in his infinite wisdom and according to his mysterious plan. (My situation.) Then, we just have to trust that he knows what is best for us and will use our lives for his glory.

    Sometimes we experience pain and loss because of someone’s sinful choices (murder, drunk driving) or because of our fallen world (disease, natural disasters, accidents). I don’t believe these are part of God’s plan for our lives, but he does allow them to happen. When they do, God is our comforter, our mother hen, our rock to cling to as he grieves our pain along with us. All we can do is cry in his arms and hold fast to our hope of eternity. You are not alone.

    Reply

  78. Posted by Robyn on February 19, 2009 at 11:35 am

    As for jealousy being wrong… isn’t one of the 10 commandments “Thou shalt not covet.”? Shouldn’t we at least TRY to be content? Is it wrong that I strive for contentment and acceptance?

    On another note… I found this study and I thought it was really good:

    http://www.lightalongthejourney.com/?p=355

    Reply

  79. Posted by Robyn on February 19, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Sorry for commenting so much, but I have one more thing: I HATE christmas letters. Hate them. I have always said that I will never write one. I know that people write them with good intentions, and I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. But I’ve rarely read one that is honest and forthright and balanced about the good and the bad, that doesn’t sugarcoat struggles, and that doesn’t seem like a bragfest to me. If you are close enough to me that I want you to know about our lives, then you are close enough to me that I have already told you.

    Reply

  80. april’s sister: i noticed your opinion before about jealousy not being wrong, which is why i finally spoke up to state a differing opinion.

    according to webster’s, jealousy (the most fitting definition for this blog) is “hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.” this sounds like it would be wrong to me.

    i understand that we can’t hole up inside our houses and never turn on tv/internet (well, we CAN but we have seen how some of those people turn out), but i don’t think it’s healthy either to fuel positivity toward jealousy and envy, or anything else negative in our life, for that matter.

    when i was first married, my husband drove me insane. (well, he still does…but i have learned how to live with him over the last 13 years) i was a teacher, and over lunch every day i would “vent” to my very dear friend and co-teacher. well, of course she empathized with me. she was going through a divorce at the time, and i was sharing only my side of the story. after all, it wouldn’t benefit me to share BOTH sides of the story.

    the more i shared, the angrier i got, to the point where i was just downright intolerant. i think as women (or maybe as humans, even) we sometimes choose to share our shortcomings and downfalls in an environment where we feel certain we will receive affirmation instead of exhortation. we don’t want to hear someone say, “well, that is probably not a healthy way for you to be living; go get help” or whatever it is we need to hear at the time. that’s what i needed to hear then anyway, as well as during several other dark periods of my life.

    on a lighter note, what i was trying to convey in my previous comment is that i think we have a choice in at least some of what we surround ourselves with. i have a choice not to look at some of those blogs, or not to have a fb account (believe it or not, there are other ways to communicate with the people in my life!), or not to read fashion mags because they make me obsess about being thin/trendy, or not to read parenting mags because they make me want stuff/obsess about what i’m doing wrong, or choose friends very carefully so that i know i can trust these women in my life to tell me when i’m being self-absorbed/whiny/whatever. i have only a few of these friendships, but i treasure them, and they make me a better person for it.

    one more thing: i never said “stop pretending these feelings don’t matter” but i do think we need to “constantly be working on being content where we are.” i firmly believe (and have some crazy, dark personal stories to back this up!) that if we spend all our time not being content in the present, we are missing out on everything good that is going on around us.

    and i also want to say that i am horrible at this. i dwell in the past, i worry and fret over the future. this is why i feel like i can say with confidence (to myself, to you) that we really are missing out if we don’t cling tightly to the present and try to be content wherever we have been dealt with in life.

    Reply

  81. Posted by Jennifer on February 19, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I am just wondering…. isn’t there some responsibility on the part of a facebook reader to understand that she doesn’t see the full picture?

    As I am awaiting to be able to take pictures of my daughter (I won’t take pictures of myself pregnant, it’s a little too traumatizing) I have a ton of pictures of my two dogs on my facebook page.

    Of course I am not going to put the pictures up of them peeing in the house, or eating my bra (yes, that has happened) or when I am so annoyed with them that I want to kick them in the butt (which I don’t so please don’t call animal control).

    I want people to get the best possible impressions of my pups. They are adorable. They are funny… so on and so forth.

    So wouldn’t that apply even more when it comes to our families? Facebook doesn’t exist to air our dirty laundry. It gives a snapshot of people lives who we may or may not get to see all the time. It’s like scrap-booking online. People are just putting their best face forward. Is that hypocrisy or just social etiquette?

    I don’t look to find something wrong or out of place in people’s lives, but I make the assumption that we are all struggling.

    I say, rejoice with those who rejoice. If someone has a beautiful family- great! If they have a great vacation spot I try to get to know them better so they will invite me (j/k).

    I am not saying I don’t get envious. It’s hard when other’s have what you long for. I just don’t blame facebook or my “friends”. I blame myself.

    Perhaps the problem is that with facebook we can be forced to look at (and try not to compare ourselves to) 200ish more people that otherwise may have faded into the background of lives and histories.

    Interesting blog topic… what to do when ex-boyfriends ask to be your friends. Whew, that really has thrown me for a loop a couple of times. Someone should write an etiquette manual for facebook.

    Reply

  82. Posted by April G. on February 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    I think we have a little argument over semantics going on here. Correct me if I’m wrong, sis, but I think what you are trying to convey (rather eloquently I believe – but I a biased) is that our God-given longings and desires are not wrong. And it is actually unhealthy to ignore them, even if they cause us to ache with pain because they have not been fulfilled. But, to choose to dwell on those longings until they become “hosile” would be unhealthy and detrimental to ourselves and our relationships. I think our general discussion about jealousy here has a broader definition than Webster’s “hostile” one. Of course, showing hostility toward those who do not have what we do would be inapproprate. But our initial feelings and thoughts are not sinful unless we choose to dwell on them and make them so. Feelings are not bad, they are God-given and may be revealing something deep that needs to be addressed. Some of the women on this blog are in life situations that are very difficult. Life-long desires have not been fulfilled, and the clock is ticking. It would be uncaring of us to tell these women that their desires are sinful and they should just sit by and be “content.” Again, semantics come in to play here. Contentment means some to some people and something else to others. We can choose to enjoy life and continue living in the midst of acknowledged disappointment and pain.

    Reply

  83. Posted by April G on February 19, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Jennifer, I may be overstepping my bounds here. But, I recommend you take a picture or two of your beautiful pregnant body. You may think you look terrible and unattractive, but there really is a lot of beauty in pregnancy, and you and your daughter may apppreciate it later. (You don’t even have to see them now!)

    Reply

  84. Posted by Jennifer on February 19, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    April… no you’re not overstepping any bounds. I know your right. I don’t have much time left. I’d better start psyching myself up for it :).

    Reply

  85. i am slightly frustrated by the turn the comments have taken on this post. actually, it’s more than slightly. i came to this blog because i read carla’s book and resonated deeply with the “myth of the perfect mother” we are taught in society and church. at the time, my children were 3 and 2, and i still had no idea what i was doing (and still don’t actually…).

    so when i found out she moderated a blog, i was so excited to join the conversation! i have already shared that i do not make mom friends easily; in fact, i have exactly ONE friend in town whom i can trust with being real as a mom. the rest of my friends are single or married with no kids.

    one of my closest friends has struggled with infertility, and most days it is tough to know how to comfort her, how to be a good friend. i remember finding out about our surprise baby #3 and instantly worrying about having to tell her, knowing she would be devastated, and also afraid about her feelings of bitterness and jealousy toward me.

    when we hang out, i am constantly on alert so that i don’t trample on her feelings, and what this ends up causing me to do is not mention my children at all. if i want to talk about how they are frustrating me, or how proud i am of them, or some other struggle i’m facing as a mom, i do not share it with her, because when i do start sharing, she immediately looks uncomfortable. this is me: i am a mom. i can’t help it. i can’t send my kids back where they came from (although there are days…!).

    so again, when i found this blog about motherhood issues, i was relieved to find a place where i could be real about mothering/motherhood issues.

    i have felt increasingly less comfortable being “myself” as the comments have proceeded. i have also felt more and more stressed out, because i feel silently judged for having kids, for feeling like we shouldn’t foster jealousy within ourselves or within others.

    i’m disappointed, because this is the second blog i’ve tried to become engaged. the first was a women’s blog for emergent-type people, and i felt driven away by the “regulars” who commented and judged anyone who had a differing opinion. here i feel like what i am going through as a mother isn’t really applicable, because the conversation in this thread seems to be more about what people don’t have.

    believe me, i have had my own share of suffering. yes, i have a husband and kids. but 26 months of the past 5 years my husband did not have a job. we used medicaid insurance for our children. our 2nd child was sick for more than 2 years, and no doctors could tell me what was wrong. i work from home, sometimes 40-50 hours a week, even 2 weeks after giving birth, because it was a necessity. there were many, many months when i had to beg to keep our utilities turned on. it was literally survival mode.

    the past 5 years have been the most painful i’ve ever gone through. and in the middle of it all, i hated when people told me “someday you will understand why you are having to deal with all this” or “suffering brings character.” and even now that we are on the other side of the suffering, i don’t understand it and there is a big part of me that is still bitter.

    but one thing i started doing in the midst of those years is trying to focus on the small things that were good in my life. some days are better than others, for sure, but blogging was one way of doing that, and cooking, and knitting, and i have another dear friend who is similar in this way. so i don’t do these things to show off or brag about “look what i can do.” i do them for survival. to keep myself from going insane.

    i guess what i’m trying to say is that some of the remarks on this thread have seemed judgmental and snarky, and i’m not sure a blog is the best place to vent. i think the original question was “how do you deal with this jealousy?” or something along those lines. and somewhere in the thread it seems like it turned from how to deal with this to “it’s ok to have these feelings and here’s what i need to vent about.”

    i have taken myself off the comment thread and am not sure if i am going to come back…

    Reply

  86. I just wanted to weigh in here to address something Kristi and someone else up there (sorry I’ve got a baby sleeping on me and I’m trying to do this quickly so I’m too lazy to scroll back up!) touched on about who’s responsible for our jealousy.

    I don’t think either Carla or I were trying to place blame on other people for our own jealousy. Certainly, there may be people who flaunt or whatever. But the old guy who talked about duck on the deck or my friend eating oatmeal were simply sharing a joy—and some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

    Clearly, my jealousy is my problem. Same thing with people who put up pictures of their fun family vacations or share a fun thing. They have every right to do that! And I’m glad people do. Why shouldn’t we be able to share the joys of our lives?

    I just posted on my Twitter (totally new for me today!) thing that I was getting my hair highlighted. Maybe someone (of my 6 followers) will read that and feel jealous because she (or he) is in the midst of a crazy day and nothing sounds better than having 2 hours of quite to read Twilight #3 and have someone lighten my dreary, winter, blah, turning-gray-too-quickly hair. I would’ve been jealous to me too were it not me.

    But like everybody else, that represented a tiny portion of my life. A life that contains a whole lot NOT to be jealous of. Seriously. A whole lotta crap to deal with over here, people.

    So I don’t know where I’m going with this, but just that, yes, jealousy should point us back into our own souls, to see what’s up with us—not make us burn about other people.

    Reply

  87. Posted by Bookgirl on February 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Incidentally, just as I was reading this blog today, the UPS man delivered a package. A friend just mailed me “Life Lessons,” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. I’m sure it won’t be “easy” reading, but I think that I’ll definitely have this blog in my brain as I dive in.

    And to Kristi: If you’re still here, and I hope you are….I’m sorry that this conversation hasn’t been what you had hoped. And I’m sorry for all the pain of the past years in your life. I’m sorry your friendships haven’t been what you hoped they would be. I’m sorry for all the pain of SO many stories on this blog. And I think God weeps with us, his precious broken daughters in a broken world.

    Reply

  88. Posted by April G. on February 19, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Kristi,

    I am also sorry if you feel the conversation on this blog has been hurtful. I think can speak for all of us in saying that was certainly nobody’s intent.

    And, in case it was my last post in attempting to clarify the jealousy dispute that was the last straw, I will try again to explain what I was attempting to say.

    My point was really that it seemed Kristi and April’s Sister actually AGREED. April’s Sister said that if feelings of longing got the the point of hostility or sin, that was not good. I am pretty sure she would agree, based on her previous comments, that the Webster’s definition of jealousy would be sinful, unhealthy, bad, whatever word you want to use. But, we were using the word jealousy in a broader way that did not necessarily mean hostility. My point was that we seemed to be disagreeing on something there was actually agreement on.

    Kristi, it seems like you, like a lot of us, have been through some rough times. I think you fit in here just fine. And your description of your friendship with your infertile friend would also generally fit the situation my sister and I are in, but we are learning to find a balance in all of that together. You may have missed the post where I stated that we had admitted our jealousies of eachother and yet we have been able, through that honesty, to strengthen our relationship further. We can understand your position and that of your friend. I hope our imperfect example of relationship can be an encouragement to you.

    And, I am sorry for my typos in the last few posts. I was using someone else’s computer and the keyboard was different. (At least that is my excuse – and I am over tired and have a headache.) Ugh

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  89. Posted by Bookgirl on February 19, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I’ve already posted enough, I fear, but this whole discussion prompted me to click on Bible Gateway and do a word search of jealous.

    I’m not going to pretend to be a Bible scholar. I’m not, by any stretch. And I didn’t look up envy, either. But I have to wonder about the root of the word jealous. Because there is evil, awful jealousy in the Bible (Cain….Joseph’s brothers, quarreling in the NT, Rachel and Leah). Then elsewhere God describes himself as jealous. And there are passages that talk about jealous love (human and divine).

    Just throwing that out there, humbly. Because perhaps one of the things that we’re snagging on is the word jealousy, the evil yucky monster that will destroy you.

    “Resentment” is the best word that comes to mind for me. It festers and consumes and eats you alive and won’t let you enjoy other people’s blessings. Ever. It is deadly. It is never satisfied. (So throw away the catalogs, limit the Facebook, ask God for help……and in the spirit of Kristi’s comment…any one have other suggestions, please?)

    And then there is loss, grief, restlessness …. And that is a different battle, at least I think so. You practice contentment. (I think it’s a discipline, not a status. Or a status update!) You pray. Or you try to pray. You build strong friendships, knowing that it’s a risk every time. You cry out to God. You pray that grief won’t turn into resentment and bitterness. You ask God to turn grief into compassion instead.

    I hope I haven’t muddied the waters even more. Because I think this is a great discussion. And the more we can talk about this stuff, and perhaps break down some walls and think about fighting insidious lies in our lives and building strong relationships with people we might have blown off because of jealousy/resentment, the better our own lives and relationships will be.

    My strongest friendships are those where we’ve looked jealousy square in the eye and wept over it and acknowledged and mourned each other’s losses. I love that April and her sister shared that they’ve done that. Maybe that’s rare? Maybe it could become less rare. Please God….?

    If this sounds preachy, please know that that’s not the spirit I’ve intended.

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  90. Posted by Bookgirl on February 19, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    OK. Weird. April and I posted at the same time. And we’re reading each other’s minds. APRIL…….stop reading my mind, OK? That’s creepy! I didn’t see her comments, but I’m saying AMEN to all of them.

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  91. Posted by Jennifer on February 19, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Bookgirl and April! Thanks for taking the time to discuss further. I really like what you wrote.

    Kristi (if you are still out there)- I almost lost a friendship because a dear friend of mine got pregnant on her first try and I was sick and in the throws of fertility treatments. Very tricky waters. We were both so self-conscious that we didn’t even know how to relate anymore. No matter how happy I was for her (I was very happy) her situation reminded me of loss.

    I wouldn’t even say I was “jealous” per say. I just didn’t know how to separate my joy for her from my own grief. She thought the grief was her fault and around and around we went. It’s better now, but I am not sure if that is because I got pregnant or not, or how it would be different if I was still infertile (I really hate that word, there has got to be something better. Barren is pretty darn harsh too).

    I will pray for your friendship, that you find a place of ease with your friend, that you can both talk openly and honestly. I know I really, really appreciated it when my mommy friends asked about my job, what I was reading etc. And I always made it a point to get excited about their kids and ask about them and their lives as SAHMs. I agree, no one should ever have to feel self-conscious or ashamed of where they are are at in life.

    I am not trying to sound “advicy”- You prob thought of this stuff already. I just thought maybe an objective voice from the other “side” would be helpful. If not, that’s cool too.

    Take Care

    Reply

  92. Posted by Cindy on February 19, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    For me, jealousy of the sort we’ve been talking about stems from my own sense of inadequacy and longing for validation. It also comes for hopes and dreams I had for my life, many of which haven’t materialized. I’m older now, 60 in April, and have teenagers at home. I’ve never been married and am a mom of three through adoption.

    When I was in my early 30s, I was in a start-up church where, for a long time, I was the only single. It was wonderful and painful all at the same time. These women were FERTILE! Babies here, babies there… I’d have to smile and babysit and nurture marriages, when all I wanted to do was be married and have babies. My friends would be tired, they’d be stressed, they’d be frustrated and expect me to do more than my fair share of church work because I was single and didn’t have the responsibilities they did. Yup, the 8 hours or more a day I worked weren’t, apparently, part of my day, and my house automatically cleaned itself, the laundry magically happened, all the tasks they had to do, plus my 8 hour a day job. They were all stay at homes, and took their kids shopping, to the museum and to the pool while I was at work. I seethed with jealousy because it was the life I wanted. It’s still the life I wanted.

    As I approached the bewitching age of 36, I told my best friend (and mother of 3) that someday, if I didn’t get married, maybe I’d adopt. She, being a friend, asked when I thought I might do that, getting old as I was. That started a 2-1/2 year process that ended up, eventually, in fostering and adopting three kids. My youngest was about three when I was walking down the hall at work and it hit me like a hammer, if I’d married, I wouldn’t have these three kids, they wouldn’t have me, and they would be a family. They’d be in the foster system, probably for life. I can’t imagine life without my kids. They’ve brought such challenge and joy and grief and entertainment and growth to me. I’m a different person because I didn’t get the life I thought I’d get; I’m a better person.

    Sorry for running on. I guess my point is that we’re jealous because someone has what we want and we focus on that. When I focused on what God wanted to give me, it was so different, and so much more meaningful and better, though harder, harder, harder. He has a specific task for each one of us, one that no one else can accomplished because he created us to be just right for that task. When we let him do it, it changes our heart’s desires and fills them.

    Sorry this is SO long and preachy, but there’s lots and lots of pain in this thread, but there’s also joy that can’t come without the pain–that’s bigger than the pain. In the end, it’s not all about me.

    Reply

  93. Posted by smile4ang on February 19, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Krisiti, I think you are on to something with your comments about copeing. Maybe content is not the word people should use. Making the best of your situation, copeing, or trying to find the good in every situation are all very different from being content. That is definately the way I “try” to be content, by copeing. I also agree that contentment can move people to inactivity and stagnation. I have been through some hard times myself, (believe it or not i am not considering the last 2 years part of them, even with all the loss..) We have to remeber that this world is broken and all God has really promised us as his children is that we will be held, not that it will get better, not that it will make us grow, but that he will be with us through it.
    Hopefully you will have a bunch of good friends too, because they really make being neck deep in poop, seem more like a party, somehow.

    Reply

  94. Posted by Bookgirl on February 19, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Cindy: Thank you for sharing. Thank you. Because I am THERE, single at a smaller church and babies everywhere and “you can do all this work because you don’t have any responsibilities.”

    Yes, I have more FREEDOM. I won’t deny that. But I have responsibilities in my life. Otherwise, well, I wouldn’t be alive.

    And I’m approaching 37. And regardless of how rational or content I try to be, biology can sometimes take over. I try to label it what it is, but it’s hard, darn hard. It’s hard to even talk about with my friends. I do, and every conversation with close friends has been worth it, but it’s hard. People used to tell me not to worry, that there was “plenty of time.” But I don’t hear that anymore. Because it’s not true. There’s time. Maybe? But definitely not “plenty.”

    It’s hard sometimes to even type it on a blog without getting teared up. And I just think: OK, God, you made me this way, with the desires and the clock and the hormones and the tears and all.

    I applaud you for adopting. I don’t think I could take that step by myself. I used to think I could. Now, I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it alone. (How’s that for vulnerable?)

    Reply

  95. Posted by Robyn on February 19, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Kristi, it would be very sad if you really left. Because I don’t think there is one ounce of snark, judgement, or hostility going on here. Everyone seems very open to conversation and accepting.

    I’m just going to voice my agreement that we are talking about two very different things, here: our own petty jealousies and envy about superficial things like designer clothing and vacation homes versus our very deep and real longings for significant things in our live such as partners and children. One is our own fault and should be suppressed and dismissed as frivolous and sinful. The other is not sinful and cannot be dismissed, nor should it.

    I was thinking more about the trials that we go through in our lives today, and I thought of Paul and his “thorn of the flesh.” The bible says that we will have trials. God uses them to refine us, to draw us closer to him, to make us strong, and, sometimes, he allows us to experience the consequences of our sins in order to discipline and chasten us. It’s perfectly normal and acceptable to experience grief and pain in the midst of trials, but also to hold tight to the hope we have as Christians.

    Reply

  96. Posted by Bookgirl on February 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Angie, I love that you have now added the words butt and poop to the discussion, and in both instances, you weren’t even talking about being a mom!

    Reply

  97. Posted by Cindy on February 19, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Bookgirl, I thought I sensed a kindred spirit. Yup, been there, done that. Years later, I can see the providence of God in my life. It’s not what I would have chosen initially, but he knew what needed to be done. I’d be glad to “talk” to you off this blog if you want. 37 is a really hard age for a woman. We start reevaluating everything we thought we were and what we thought would happen. Basically, the female mid-life crisis. It can be really depressing, or really freeing. No one can have everything she wants. Every time we make a choice for something, we make choices against something. Every time we decide FOR God’s direction for us, we sacrifice OUR direction for us. Then he does give it back, refined and different.

    A stupid example: my 18-year-old son has zero capacity for delayed gratification. We’ve been talking about getting a new computer. I told him to look at computers. So he kept sending me links to all kinds of lame $200 computers that didn’t even have operating systems, because he thought I might go for that. In the meantime, I decided on another computer that was much better. When I got him to sit down long enough so I could actually talk to him, I showed it to him. Oh. Now there’s nothing wrong with trying to find the right computer based on what he thought I’d be willing to do, but I had a different idea. I think God’s kind of like that. We present him with the plan we want and think he’ll go along with, and beg and plead and cry for it. He loves us enough to wait it out, if we’ll let him, and wait until we surrender our way to his, then he shows us his plan. For me from surrender to first baby was at least 4 years! Painful, gutwrenching years. And they just prepared me for the painful, gutwrenching years since, but I’m fulfilled in a way I would never have been. Adoption isn’t for everyone, but it was God’s plan for me, and for my kids. I wasn’t doing anything wrong (contrary to what my friends would tell me–lose weight, go to singles groups, change jobs, don’t be so independent), God had something different he needed me to do.

    Reply

  98. Posted by Bookgirl on February 19, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Cindy….I would love to talk to you outside of the blog. I’m not really sure how to arrange that.

    I keep hearing that these are the hardest years. It’s not much consolation right now, though.

    I don’t want to hijack a blog about motherhood with a zillion posts about singleness, but I love hearing everyone’s honesty and watching people break down walls.

    And yes, singles hear about everything that they’re doing wrong. (You’ve clearly “been there/done that” too.)

    Reply

  99. Posted by cindy on February 19, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    I’m on facebook. Cynthia Cronk. I’m not shy, I’ll just put it out there. I trust our friends!

    Reply

  100. Posted by Steve B. on February 19, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    100! Woohoo!

    Reply

  101. Posted by Bookgirl on February 19, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Bookgirl is jealous that Steve B. was commenter #100.

    Reply

  102. Posted by Heidi on February 19, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I came across temptation the other day. Your blog and all of these wonderful comments “saved” me. I didn’t know what I was jealous of, or even that I was jealous, but now I know I am coveting something that needs working on. These comments will be food for thought for days for me and are very helpful. Thank you.

    Reply

  103. Posted by April's Sister on February 19, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    I have so wanted to post earlier, but I have in-laws in town. Oy!

    Okay, firstly, Robyn I swear that I did not intend for you to feel bad about lamenting your current infertility. I would never do that. I was just trying to put into perspective about how we all have different longings and desires and how, for lack of a better phrase, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

    Secondly, Bookgirl, you’re not the only one who thinks April is a mind reader! She reads mine all the time! LOL Yes, sis, that is exactly the point I was trying to get across is the difference between the very real desires of our hearts, and envious coveting.

    And finally, Kristi, I promise you I was not trying to be snarky or judgemental in any way. If you knew me, you would understand that. I, too, have seen much pain and heartache and I was only trying to convey those thoughts and feelings here. Please don’t think I was passing judgement or trying to attack you.

    And in case it feels to some as though I was “stirring the pot” so to speak, I apologize. That wasn’t my intent.

    Reply

  104. Posted by Bookgirl on February 20, 2009 at 12:11 am

    And because FB and technology have been the launching point for this conversation, I’ll share this, which I found fascinating.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2009/02/08/the_end_of_alone/?page=full

    Reply

  105. Wow. This conversation exploded since I was last here.

    I wrote about jealousy on my blog today and backlinked here.

    To address what Kristi wrote, I’d like to add: Just because women without children are sometimes jealous of women with children, we aren’t insensitive to your difficulties in life. We know having kids is hard work. We’d welcome that hard work. And just like the main focus of a blog on motherhood wants to address the issues of how mothers are supposed to be, single and childless women would welcome living in a society that doesn’t project the belief that there is something wrong with a woman who does not have children by a certain age.

    Nobody is rejecting anyone or trying to be snarky or insensitive. It’s just a huge backlog of emotions that rarely have a forum for expression.

    Feelings aren’t anything to be afraid of. They’re just feelings.

    Reply

  106. Posted by Dianne on February 20, 2009 at 8:09 am

    I appreciate what Delle said: Growth results from assessing what hurts us, what we long for, and what our dreams are. Without digging in, how do we shape ourselves and attach ourselves to our dreams and goals?

    That is so good. That said, FB has felt like the saw they must use in open heart surgery, to crack open the ribs and expose the heart. I’m on there, with all of about – well, less than 10 friends. And I call them “now” friends, people I’m truly interested in keeping up with and that I believe care about what’s going on in my life. One girl and I have been using it as an accountability/encouragement tool of sorts. On the other hand, my mom is on there – with over 200 friends! It is weird to see her connected to everyone from my past life that I have NO desire whatsoever (Christian school). Between seeing her so “connected” (although I question the depth of those connections) and dredging up so many past memories, not to mention the jealousy factor (which I didn’t realize), this has opened up much that I’ve realized I need to deal with. In that respect, it’s been a good, but painful experience. I still ignore friend requests and wonder how long I’ll stick around there.

    More thoughts but I’ll save them for later.

    Reply

  107. well i’m bogged down with an editing project right now so i don’t have time to write a lengthy response, but i just wanted to say thanks to everyone who reassured me. it’s really difficult to sort through how we sound when we can’t hear a person’s voice.

    everyone have a great weekend…

    Reply

  108. Posted by cindy on February 20, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I was just re-reading the beginning of the comments (what a lot of them!) and wondered something.

    When we are jealous of someone, does longing for the thing that triggers that jealousy mask a deeper longing for something else, like connectedness, a place in the world, significance, being the most important person to someone else, a need to be needed, a longing to leave something behind that will outlast us. And instead of being able to accurately recognize what we’re longing for, we long for the symbol of that thing we see that someone else has. The longing is real and legitimate, but God may have a different way of fulfilling that longing for us than the thing we see on someone’s facebook status.
    I don’t know if this makes any sense at all, but I’d feel really bad about being jealous of someone’s straight-A student, but not so bad if I realized that the real longing was for my kids to find and exercise their God-given gifts. Yeah, straight A’s would be nice (heck, no calls from the dean would be nice), but I know what I really want for my kids is for them to be spiritually healthy adults.
    I also wonder what the economic situation will do to FB statuses (?). Who will be the first to put up that they got the ComEd disconnect notice today (comes in a red envelope, by the way) or had their Comcast shut off?

    Reply

  109. Cindy wondered how the economy will affect Facebook statuses. I’ve already seen several statuses announcing that people have just been laid off, or are looking for work or interviewing. And people have commented to help each other find leads. A few of my FB friends have just gotten new jobs – not sure if FB networking helped them to do so.

    Reply

  110. Posted by Delle on February 20, 2009 at 10:32 am

    This morning, Cindy mentioned “When we are jealous of someone, does longing for the thing that triggers that jealousy mask a deeper longing for something else, like connectedness, a place in the world, significance, being the most important person to someone else, a need to be needed, a longing to leave something behind that will outlast us. And instead of being able to accurately recognize what we’re longing for, we long for the symbol of that thing we see that someone else has……”

    I feel that is true. On my first post a few days ago I mentioned I was going to see a counselor. I have a rare morning to myself and have been doing some “prep” for Monday’s meeting with her. (Which likewise, will be a rare experience even though it would be so healthy for each of us to have yearly tuneups with counselors). Anyhow, some concluding thoughts that I have come to are: my overall need for affirmation in my own life; finding confidence in my choices, my voice, and my talents(and being able to share those even when they are different than others’); and dealing with the rejection when that hasn’t come. I listed a lifetime of rejection and hurts and can see black and white why I need and long for affirmation.

    I’m still enjoying everyone’s comments, and didn’t expect to post another comment per se, but Cindy’s just hit home with what I’ve been soul searching this morning and I thought I had words to share.

    Reply

  111. Posted by Bookgirl on February 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    To Al’s point: I can’t tell you the number of facebook postings I’ve seen about layoffs, cutbacks, unpaid “involuntary” vacations, and company closings.

    People reach out on Facebook for a lot of reasons, and I see a lot of people networking, too.

    Cindy: I love what you wrote. Someone wise recently told me that we all just want to BELONG. And as women, we REALLY REALLY want to belong. It’s how we’re wired.

    And sometimes FB (and the church, or the culture) can make us feel like we don’t belong. But we DO belong, to a bigger kingdom. We belong to Him. Maybe that should be my status update today.

    Kristi: I’m glad you’re back.

    Michele: Amen and amen and yes and amen. We might not have husband or kids, but we DO belong.

    And to Carla and Caryn: Thanks for letting this singleton camp out here.

    Reply

  112. I know this thread has taken various directions, but I thought I’d share some parenting-related Facebook statuses I’ve posted in the past few months. (Potential TMI alert!):

    Al is thinking, well, we really don’t need to watch DVDs anymore. Or videos, either. Thanks to Elijah for simplifying our lives.

    Al is convinced that Elijah waits for Ellen to be out of town to have his volcanic messy poops erupting out of his diaper and onto the bedroom carpet.

    Al washed the couch cushion covers after the green marker incident, and now they are the cleanest they have been in seven years.

    Al hopes he got all the poop off of the TV.

    Al thinks Elijah is ready for potty training. In the meantime, professional carpet cleaners are coming over this afternoon.

    Al ‘s son wrote, “I, Josiah Hsu, will try to help my family by cleaning my room, help cook the food, warn them when Elijah poops all over the downstairs floor.”

    Al was transposing first letters of phrases with his kids just to be silly, and inadvertently called popcorn “cop porn.” Oops.

    Al and Ellen said, “Josiah, go brush your teeth.” Josiah replied, “La la la la la – I can’t hear you! La la la la la – I’m not listening!” Sigh.

    Reply

  113. Posted by Mary on March 7, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Hi ladies: I just read your awesome article in Today’s christian woman on managing expectations and was so happy to find your website. Here’s the thing about jealousy — as I think you noted in the article, you never REALLY know what anyone is dealing with at any given time, so it’s easy to envy what you see on the surface since that’s all you’re seeing. You basically just make up the rest of the story.

    I have what looks like a rosy life to most of my neighbors. I have three kids who are smart, and talented musicians, and great swimmers. I have a husband who has a good job which allows us to live in a nice neighborhood and join a pool club and take vacations. I have a great job as a college professor where I write interesting articles, only need to be on campus a couple of days a week and occasionally get to go someplace interesting for a conference.

    However, our marriage has always been a struggle and the hardest part has probably been the violent and aggressive way my husband behaves towards me. We’ve been through therapy and anger management and prayer and grief. I’ve been physically, mentally and emotionally abused and I fear that my children have been damaged as a result. It’s the first thing I wake up with in the morning and the last thing I pray about every night. AND NO ONE KNOWS. I remember at one point last year when I would paste a smile on my face when I left my house in the morning and “act” my way through the day — before coming home to the crushing weight of all that had gone wrong in my life. And I remember at that same point, a woman in my neighborhood telling me that I was her “role model” because I seemed to have everything anyone ever wanted, I was so successful and I handled it all so well. And I remember thinking, “what would she think if she knew what my life was really like?”

    I used to be jealous — until that encounter with a neighbor. Then I realized that you never really know what anyone else is dealing with.

    Reply

  114. Posted by ann on March 9, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    What a great discussion. Jealousy has always been a burden for me. This in spite of an amazing life gifted with family friends faith and a fulfilling career. I can honestly say I have all I ever wanted. I have to believe God is using this to draw me closer the pain it causes could be a refining fire.

    Mary, I am touched by your honesty.

    Reply

  115. Mary, your comment came through on my Blackberry this weekend when I was out of town. I got numbing chills reading it in the elevator. I appreciate your honesty and your sharing with us.

    However, more than anything, I’m worried about you and your safety (and that of your children). I was going to email you but worried that wouldn’t be a good idea.

    You need to get out of that situation. You need to get safe. God doesn’t want this for you. This isn’t about divorce—so please no one else freak out—but about safety.

    Please email us (see the contact us tab) if you need some help or information on getting help. Just so you know, too, you are SO NOT ALONE in this. A mom (a Christian, married to a “Christian” doctor) of a friend of my child is going through the same thing. In fact, Today’s Christian Woman magazine’s cause of the year is Domestic Violence and you would not believe (or you probably would) the response they have. Violence against women in Christian households is shamefully epidemic.

    I know it is hard to leave. I understand that. It must be terrifying. But please seek help. Please. And let us know if we can help. We’ll be praying.

    Reply

  116. Posted by Sharon on September 14, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I came upon this post quite by accident…. after reading yet another status about one of my facebook friends being blissfully happy and another talking about how his wife is his best friend….bllaaahhhh…. As a single person with all but 1 friend either married with kids, engaged, newly married, or dating, I battle facebook jealousy quite often!!! I even hid a couple of people that I am friends with b/c they are in the beginning stages of dating, so their status posts are so nauseating I want to hurl my last week’s meals! LOL There was one girl from college that I “de-friended” b/c her life was just way too perfect and I couldn’t deal with hearing about how in love she was with her husband several times a day! 🙂 So I decided to see if anyone else deals with this, and I am glad (and sad at the same time), to see I’m not the only one!!!! 🙂

    Reply

  117. Posted by BornFreeMom on December 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I get jealous of Facebook updates that include massages and babysitters. Steel cut oatmeal could ignite jealousy if the person were having it with cheesecake or pomegranate juice… (not in it, but beside it.)

    Reply

  118. The Christmas travel plans of thousands of are in disarray after snow left Heathrow Airport all but shut. Thousands have been forced to sleep overnight in airports and there is disruption to road and rail travel with the Met Office warning of more snow …

    Reply

  119. Posted by Susan on November 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    This has me thinking about my own experience with FB.. which may be the opposite of what others are commenting on. I may be one of the annoying facebooker’s who posts on frequent travel including pictures. I’m sensitive to not boasting (trust me I’ve spent most of my life being on the other side of the fence – I know it well), but I’m recently retired, still in my 50’s, my husband and I are financially comfortable and although I don’t post a lot on facebook (on average once a day) when I do post pictures from our trips no one comments – no one. I don’t post about all travel. I post a link to a blog post I wrote about the trip – not one comment from my 62 friends. They comment on each other’s stuff, I comment on their stuff… I have to believe it’s envy. Ironic, most of my life people did not envy me -that’s for sure.

    I love to study people and sometimes am tempted to post something sad just to see what kind of responses I would get – more than I get now I would be willing to bet. Misery truly does love company and people don’t want to hear about other’s good fortune… truly facebook IS like high school.

    I would love to know other’s thoughts about my perceptions – am I off base? Maybe they just don’t like me… 🙂

    Reply

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