Part six of the 1 Corinthians 13 series.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.’
1 Corinthians 13:4
As soon as I read today's verse I knew I needed to share extracts of a story from one of my favourite books. In her book ‘Cold Tangerines,’ Shauna Niequist shares her honest experience of being possessed by the green-eyed monster.
“On Monday night at house church, a very unfortunate thing happened. Before dinner, right at the beginning of the night, someone mentioned a friend of ours, and mentioned, offhandedly, casually, that this friend of ours is meeting with a publisher about writing a book. And then we talked about other things, normal things. We ate pizza from JB’s, caught up on our lives, and I was part of the conversation in some vague way, nodding and interjecting occasionally. But there was a whole other thing going on inside me while I pretended to smile and listen.
While we talked, I was being absolutely consumed, eaten from the inside out with jealousy, like a million termites were eating out my bones and organs and I was about to turn to dust, hollow and dry.
The terrible thing that happened to me on Monday night is that I realised there is a person in my life against whom I cannot win the game. I thought I was holding her off, and Monday night, she beat me.
Secretly, I thought, I will write a book and will hold that book out like Kryptonite - ha! I wrote a book? You’re gorgeous? I wrote a book!
It was the last tiny bit of ground I had to stand on, because she had me in every single other area. And then Monday night, someone happened to mention she was writing a book, too. It made me want to pray. And by pray, I mean to stand up in the middle of dinner and shake my fist at God and demand, “How could you?”
And then on the other hand, at the same moment, I was painfully aware that I was in dangerous territory, spiritually. I was very, very ashamed of myself. This is a person I love. And I am so jealous of her that I can’t even eat my pizza.”
Have you ever had an experience like Shauna’s? Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to share it!
I have so much respect for the honesty and vulnerability displayed in this story. In dark, hidden places that we struggle to admit, many of us have lived through a similar experience to Shauna’s. A friend is chosen to take on a role in church we thought would be ours. Someone is asked to perform at a church event while we are overlooked again. We decide to dislike someone, not because of anything they have done, but simply because they shine a light on our inadequacies. Love doesn’t do any of these things. Love recognises that there’s a place for everyone’s gift and everyone’s voice.
Rather than building the church up through the use of their God-given gifts, the Corinthians were consumed by jealousy and pride. They didn’t realise that with patience, kindness and love, their gifts would combine to create something beautiful. They didn’t need to drag each other down, God would help them build each other up. Let's take that message into our churches this Sunday.
“There is an abundant need in this world for your exact brand of beautiful. Know it. Believe it. Live it.”
Niequist, Shauna, Cold Tangerines, Michigan:Zondervan, 2007 p.151-152