Choosing Cheer

Her Facebook status read, “I just got accepted! I’ll be moving to Africa.”

We can choose to be an encourager even when their success stings a little and reminds of all the ways we just "aren't there" yet. Or we can be jealous and wallow in it. I'm choosing cheer.

Two years ago, I sat in my office, surrounded by bare white walls. It was one of those restless, full-of-doubt days. I was too prideful to admit that part back then.

Truthfully, I wanted God to mail me a map and manual on how to do life well – exude joy and gratitude, inspire and influence others. And in my mind, those attributes equated to big, move-to-Africa sorts of things.

What I was doing, teaching cooking classes to high school students, was too small.

Deep down in the pit of my gut, I was aching for purpose and direction.

I quickly texted my now husband and told him the news, “Can you believe it? Can you believe what she is doing! Oh my goodness, I am so happy for her!”

Disclaimer: You know that part in Bridesmaids, when Kristen Wiig’s character hears her friend is engaged? And with a clenched jaw and fake smile tells her how happy she is for her?

Yeah. I think I sounded a little something like that.

I sat at my desk and got back to work, not long before it came. I could feel it way down deep in my stomach, lurking, teasing me. And then it slowly moved up my belly, all the way to my heart. It grabbed hold tight and covered it with darkness.

The darkness turned into a bucket of bitterness, resentment and anger that quickly moved to my throat and out my eyes.

I hurried to the bathroom to compose myself.

I prayed the same prayer in the bathroom stall I had been whispering on repeat, “God. Can you use me up too? When is it my turn? Send me a map please … or a plane ticket.”

I wish I could say I’ve grown out of this, dear ones. I wish I could say joy trumps jealousy every single time. But it doesn’t, y’all. Not even close. It creeps in so quickly and can linger so long. And I think, particularly in this season of resolutions and intentions and dreaming, it grabs hold of us tight.

How did she get her business going so fast?

How’d she lose all that weight?

How do they get to take so many vacations?

How is her house so clean all the time?

Lately, a few friends have had such powerful moments of God’s hand opening big doors. And my sin nature, my restless sin nature, is to choose comparison, choose jealousy.

But what I am daring to choose this year is cheer. It feels so good to choose cheer. Because here’s the thing I am learning, through falling on my face and getting back up again – even in our best moments, when all the pieces seem to be falling just as they should, when our cup is overflowing with blessings, there is still doubt and worry. There is still insecurity and pain.

There is still a longing for more.

We all struggle. That’s why we need to be on each other’s team. We need just one person waving a flag and banner on the days we’d rather just give up.

You might be in a job that has you questioning what’s next. You might want to throw the next baby announcement in the trash as you desperately wait to become a momma. You might dream of a grand adventure or escape as you stand over your sink washing dishes – again.

God uses the waiting. And maybe, our waiting is an opportunity to encourage and uplift and keep a friend’s head above water.

I’d dare to say every single one of us, even the ones that seem to have it all, sit back and ask, “Am I doing this life thing right?” There is no manual or map waiting on our front stoop, that’s why we need each other so desperately.

We don’t succeed on our own or in isolation, we succeed with His steady hand and a faithful tribe.

And if we’re all cheering, if we’re all jumping up and down, throwing confetti, then we each do our part to drown out those other sounds – doubt, jealousy, restlessness and bitterness. And with time, we might stop wishing for a different life or circumstance and just feel abundantly grateful for the grass we’re standing in, the people we’ve been planted beside.

We might just realize miracles happen in the small, selfless acts, and our life actually is one grand adventure already. When one of us wins, we all do really.

I’m cheering for you, friend.

***

MaeveI’m Maeve. A newly married twenty-something, living in Winchester, VA. My heart beats for stories, lifting each other up, and breaking bread around the table. I love coffee and dark chocolate and most foods you can eat with a spoon. I share musings on love, choosing brave, gratitude and seeking God over on my blog. Come say hello, I’d love to meet you!

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Here at Middle Places we LOVE a good story. Everybody is making their way through the middle of something and we'd love to hear about yours. Please send an email to editor@middleplaces.com or check out our Contact page if you'd like to share your story with us and our readers.
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  • Carol Brucks

    That’s a huge thing to admit to, but bringing it to the light will stop it in its tracks…and by sharing you will be helping so many others work on it as well! Thanks for sharing!

    • Maeve Rafferty Gerboth

      Thanks for reading Carol! I so appreciate your kind words of encouragement. You’re right, it is so scary. I often find the scariest moments I write are often the most honest. And when we’re honest, it just feels like we connect more with each other. Exactly, we bring it into the light – it can’t have a hold on us there. xoxo

  • Oh what a beautifully written post! I struggle soo much with jealousy. I’d love to take the challenge with you this year in choosing cheer instead. It is hard to admit those black, jealous feelings but you are not alone. Thanks for sharing!
    Katie

    • Maeve Rafferty Gerboth

      Katie! Please forgive my delay. Thank you for writing back and thank you for validating. It’s so easy to hide behind those feelings but when we talk about them & bring into the light it just makes it so much easier to let them go. Thanks for joining the challenge!! xoxo

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