I admit. Sometimes jealousy just won’t leave me alone. It grabs my attention and then asks my heart to be sure to notice the unfairness of the fact that someone else has the: great shoes, house at the beach, rocking business, stellar career, gorgeous website, wonderful neighbors, vacation without kids, toned legs, heck – some people even know what they are supposed to write about…the list is long people. I’ve figured out a way to deal with this because something had to give…
Roll with me, here…
I like to make strawberry freezer jelly. My mom always made it and I always make it. The task of making jelly has many steps, too many steps sometimes. There’s a part of me that always dreads it a bit because it just seems like I will never reach the desired end – gorgeous red in jars.
Steps for making jelly:
Buy containers if needed, sugar, Surejell
Drive 90 minutes round trip to pick strawberries
Clean and trim strawberries
Measure and mix with sugar and let sit
Boil Surejell, water and add to strawberry and sugar, stir for 3 minutes
Put jelly into jars
Clean outside of jars because I am sloppy
Clean red juice and sticky sweet from all surfaces
Let jelly sit for 24 hours
Stash in freezer
Enjoy for the rest of the year!
Whew! That is quite the list. It is usually sort of fun in the midst of it, especially knowing that I am moving towards the finish line. There are a few steps that are longer than others, the picking and the cleaning seem to be long. The clean up tends to be a step where I have to summon my strength – it is the final push to being done – because everything is sticky and so many pots are dirty. Once I’ve made everything unsticky, I am almost to the enjoying for a year part! The end is in sight! Until next year, when the process starts all over again.
REMEMBER NO ONE GETS TO SKIP THE STEPS
As I get older, (and wiser?) I realize that life is like making jelly. Seriously.
Let’s say that someone has a relationship with their spouse that you envy – their relationship is warm and they exude a passionate energy. What we don’t often think about are the steps that it took for them to get to this place. The long talks, the sorting through feelings and false assumptions, much like cleaning the strawberries and throwing out the bad ones. We don’t know the sticky, messy situations that they have had to work through and clean up. I guess sometimes I assume that other people are always in the phase of ‘Enjoy for the rest of your life!’ “Isn’t that nice, for them to have all that good stuff stored up to enjoy…” This leads me to a bad place – a place where everyone has it better than I do. There is no happiness or joy here, nor is there impetus to find it. It is important to remember the steps that it takes to get to the ‘Enjoy’ phase. When I remember the steps I notice a difference in my outlook and in my relationships with others.
The other thing that it is important to remember about jelly and life is that you must always return to the steps. To make more jelly you have to repeat the steps and start the process all over again. Someone who is in the ‘enjoy’ phase is there just now as you are looking at them, but they have been cycling through the steps of making a life, a career, a home again and again. They don’t allow themselves to get stuck on the steps that involve hard work, self-denial, or biting your tongue. They do it and get to the next step even though wading through the mess is their least favorite part – they push through again and again. No one gets to skip the steps. Perhaps the friend you envy is about to start over on some aspect of her life and return to harvesting berries. Unfortunately,strawberries are out of season and so she has a long wait ahead of her.
Life is like that. In relationships, in careers, in caring for yourself well, there is always a starting over. No one gets to stay in the ‘Enjoy for the rest of your life!’ phase forever – disappointment takes over, job changes enter, and what used to work for self-care no longer cuts it. We are perpetually making jelly. But there is always a reward, no matter how short-lived it might be – it’s there.
OUR LIVES ARE MULTIDIMENSIONAL
When it comes to life, there is one more thing to consider about jealousy and jelly, and that is that life is multidimensional. Have you ever envied someone to discover later all the hard things they are walking through? There is always so much we don’t know. We jump to conclusions, thinking that the neighbors down the street should just go ahead and be on the front of the magazine with everything just so. It is possible we don’t know them all that well if we are willing to assume that their lives are just perfect. Don’t be so quick to believe that you have nothing in common with them. Just go ahead encourage, celebrate and be happy for the neighbor’s perfect new job. This will allow you to be there for the other areas of life that are not in the ‘enjoy’ phase. You can be genuinely happy, just like you would want someone to be genuinely happy for you. Our hearts can do this, we can have big, generous hearts and celebrate well with others.
We are multidimensional people and life is unfair and unkind to all of us. Before I am tempted to be jealous I need to remember that different parts of each of our lives are in different steps of the process. The mom who has the bomb legs that I wish I had (she works hard for that muscle tone) wishes she was in the clean-up phase when it comes to her relationship with her mom.
JELLY AND LIFE
When I stop and think about the steps it takes to get to the ‘enjoy’ phase and the fact that we are multidimensional people I can eliminate jealousy and envy. I can celebrate with someone that right now, they are relishing the fact they are in the ‘enjoy’ stage. It was a journey to get there, they’ve earned it and so my response can be, “I will celebrate with you”. I can choose that. I don’t have to choose envy. After all, jealousy isn’t one of the ingredients used when making gorgeous red jelly.