It was a particularly hot June, and I was two days away from my due date. I was overheated, swollen, uncomfortable, exhausted and desperate for this baby to make her exit from my womb. Then I heard the news: My friend who was due nearly three weeks after me had delivered her baby that morning.
I was unreasonably distraught and hysterical. It was my turn, not hers! Of course, pregnancy hormones may have dialed up this reaction just a tad, but we’re prone to this sort of mindset as humans, aren’t we? This idea that someone else’s good fortune is to our demise.
Growing up, I remember a sign a friend had in her kitchen: “Lord, if I can’t be skinny, make all of my friends fat.” I thought it was funny, but that’s a perfect illustration of our nature. I experienced the same envy as my friends were getting engaged in college. Despite being in a terrific relationship and being satisfied in that relationship, the moment that girls started getting diamond rings, I took a personal offense.
When we’re in a season of longing for something, it feels like a personal affront to see someone close to you receive the exact thing you want, particularly if they don’t appreciate it as much as you would if it was your turn.
Yet, there are individuals who seem to transcend into true joy and celebration for others when they are blessed, even if in their waiting. I’ve experienced the power of these encouraging celebrations, celebrations that helped me to understand the value of the blessing I was experiencing. Friends who celebrated the birth of babies in the midst of their own childless seasons of longing and divorce. Friends who stood encouragingly beside me on my wedding day, even as they suffered heartache. Friends who celebrated career successes as their dreams were dashed.
When someone is able to celebrate the victories and blessings of others, they understand that we’re all playing solitaire, not poker; the card you’re waiting for isn’t in someone else’s hand and still may be on its way to yours. Someone else’s blessing doesn’t take away from our own, doesn’t mean that our turn isn’t coming or won’t come, necessarily. In our longing, we understand more acutely the value of the blessing someone else has received and how significantly it should be celebrated.
Sometimes our turn never comes, but that doesn’t mean that our life won’t be a good one. It just means our story is different from the one we thought we were writing. Seasons of pain and longing teach us far more than the good seasons, and they don’t last. We have agency over whether we choose bitterness or joy in any given moment, even if it means we’re just going through the motions until the emotion settles.
We all want to live a joyful life, one filled with celebration and wonder at this incredible world we live in. While there are many things in life that are not within our control, we can choose to be the type of friends who celebrate the people we love, and by doing so, we get to live the life we always wanted.