Hebrews 10:23-25 (New King James Version)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Today was an exciting day for me. It didn't have much to do with the house being a disaster because the contents of our living room are overspilling into the dining room due to the new carpet installation. Don't get me wrong - its thrilling to have a plushy carpeted living room in place of living years on particle board. It also wasn't because my boys caught a mess of fish yesterday on their trek into the wilderness and my 17 year old (soon to be 18 this month) finished cooking them for me (though I was pretty happy about that too). It wasn't because my daughter did a huge variety of chores (though I am appreciative), or because my son "Art Dog" washed towering loads of ornery dirty dishes with a good attitude (what mother wouldn't be proud?). No, this was a day I never imagined I'd see. One I dreamed about, but scarcely hoped to live out.
Today, I met my friend Mist, and we increased our running routine. We're covering almost 5 miles of terrain and running over 3 miles in 1 1/2 mile stints. A month or two ago I truly didn't believe I could run a straight mile. This was a landmark event worthy of celebration.
As we jogged along chit chatting about children and husbands and housework, Mist said something that shot like a bullet into my subconscious. It was such a profound statement, and I don't think she even realized how much it hit me. Possibly because I was already a little blue and oxygen deprived from huffing and puffing. She also may not have noticed because I think my legs were trying to argue with her "you think we're some spring chickens?" They cackled. She kept on running not hearing their snide remarks. As I was saying, she off handedly was telling me about how she had the temptation to be jealous of her friends at times. She told me that instead, she focuses on using those things she would normally feel jealous of to inspire her. In other words, she aspires to be like the women she may feel envy toward. She uses the jealous feelings in a healthy way to make herself a better person.
As we kept on running (and I was near collapsing), my legs kept on making these snide comments to hers "does the word "slave driver" mean anything to you?". I told them to stop being so rude. I worried she may hear their callous remarks, but she didn't seem to.
As I was saying, as we kept on running, we discussed how men can be very competitive. In the same way, they can use that God given competitiveness to be inspired to be the best they can be. Sadly, some use it to tear down each other.
We were really on to something now. She said that in her friendship with Elasta Woman, she felt secure. Elasta Woman doesn't require anything of her. They have worked through and continue to work through feelings of jealousy toward each other. Because of the ongoing prayer and energy they put forth toward this, they have an incredible friendship. I could be jealous of the kind of friendship they have (but instead I chose to feel inspired). Its the whole David and Jonathon type deal.
Our conclusion was that we have to choose to feel inspired by one another and we have to choose to resist and pray through unhealthy feelings of envy. Wow!
As we came to the end of our run, she began sprinting saying "I feel like I really got a work out today". My legs lagged a few feet behind hers booing and making cat calls. Horrified, I begged them to stop embarrassing me with their air of poor sportsmanship. They kept moving, though they refused to sprint "don't forget that blondies legs have ten years on us" they moaned. I promised them a hot shower when we got home if only they could keep their opinions to themselves.
Without Mist, I would never be doing what I am doing. I would still be at home afraid to run for fear of becoming a mountain lion happy meal.
On Sunday, I wore a size 10 skirt and for the first time didn't have to worry about concealing spare tires under an extra layer of blouse. I don't expect to ever fully keep up with Mist. To be honest, I would be disappointed if I ever did. She's a beautiful, blond 22 year old with an amazing physique. I'm a 36 year old brunette mother of 5. Mist has inspired me to be the best that I can be. Her friendship has so enriched my life.
Driving home, I realized that if there is any one good and true thing that I can do for my friends its to inspire them. I need to provoke them to be the best they can be for God. It is an art to exhort a person without cultivating jealousy or resentment. It is truly great friend who can rule competition without letting it rule them. I may not have it all figured out, but I am learning a little more daily that I want to be a true friend.