When You Miss Out (But Others Don’t)
I’m scrolling through Instagram. I stop at the beach photos from last week on a friend’s feed. Multiple families crowded together. Breathing in each other’s laughter. Arms around each other’s shoulders.
I want to do that, too.
But I’m not. On purpose.
And something stirs in me. Something ugly. Envy? Resentment? Frustration?
Yes, yes, and yes.
Cue the Psalms. King David asked it back then, in his own way (see Psalm 73, for example): Why do people get away with doing wrong things?
I ask it now in 2020 words:
- Why doesn’t this beach crowd take the pandemic seriously?
- Why are they gathering like this when we’re not supposed to?
- Don’t they understand the guidelines are for everybody, not just some?
In other words, why am I bothering to social distance and wear a mask everywhere I go, when others aren’t?
Trying to live by best practices, listening to scientists, and watching the numbers isn’t fun. It causes us to miss out on things we planned for 2020.
And honestly? Part of our missing out is because others aren’t.
Life Isn’t Fair
Hopefully this isn’t how it is where you are. But here in Alabama, it’s as if many are driving while texting and drinking because they don’t want anyone telling them what they can or can’t do regarding coronavirus precautions.
The rest of us are having to stay off the road or dodge them to avoid being hit, forced to be more responsible as a result of their extravagance. Their choices are pushing the covid cases up and stretching the hospital staff thin.
Life isn’t fair.
Life has lots of inequities. Talk to your Black neighbors about that. Including with covid, they take the biggest hits. Data shows that Blacks and Latinos in the U.S. have been 3 times as likely to get infected with the virus as whites, and nearly twice as likely to die from it as whites. (And we complain about having to wear a mask?)
I complain about more.
Not only do I feel bad for what we’re missing out on, I also feel bad that I feel bad. I don’t want to feel resentful. I don’t want this anger.
What am I to do with these negative emotions stirred up in me? It’s a real struggle.
5 Steps to Get Over Resentment
Here are 5 steps I’m committing to, with God’s help, to get over this hurdle of resenting others.
1. TAKE A STEP BACK
Sometimes unfollowing or muting a friend on social media is the best way to preserve our friendship for the long haul in real life. If I’m not mature enough to handle their posts without getting angry, I need to temporarily disengage until I can grow up a little more.
God says to walk away from temptation. I need to capture my bitter thoughts and discard them before they take root.
2. TAKE A KNEE DOWN
I need more humility, less pride.
Things are more complicated than they appear. I shouldn’t overgeneralize other people’s motives. I don’t have all the facts. I have blind spots. I will practice saying “I don’t know” more often. I get a lot of things wrong. God knows this already; I need to remind myself of it, too.
Self-righteousness is a bad look on any of us.
3. DO WHAT YOU KNOW TO DO
I have my own work to do, and that doesn’t include judging others. “Chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline” (Colossians 3:12).
That’s enough to keep me occupied for awhile (like, my whole lifetime).
I’m deciding the best places to put my energy so I can stay the course, staying true to my values and faith, regardless of what’s going on around me.
4. GIVE AWAY FORGIVENESS
None of us have lived through a pandemic before. We’re going to make bad decisions along the way.
But we don’t have to hold a grudge against each other because of them. I want to build bridges, not walls, with those around me.
God can handle the consequences of others without my help. But I need his help. I want to give grace to others instead of judgment.
5. EXTRA CREDIT: THANK GOD FOR THE BONUS WORK
God is giving me lots of extracurricular spiritual work the past few months. During this lockdown phase, it’s been harder to make decisions on what to do and not do; relationships are tested in closer quarters; tensions run high as others handle things differently from family to family.
Trusting God’s presence in the present is an ongoing gift of surrender. Sometimes I give it; sometimes I take it back.
King David spoke of this too, often at the end of his lament Psalms (see the end of Psalm 73). But God always comes through. He did it for David. He’ll do it for me.
When this pandemic passes and we set our masks aside (the pandemic will be gone one day, right?), I don’t want to be left holding a bag of blame, regardless of how many get-togethers others experienced or how many I missed.
I want to ditch the bag now while I can, and trade it in for better things.
- Less bitterness, more beauty.
- Less guilt, more grace.
- Less dislike, more love.
Life may not be fair.
But we love anyway.
We are loved anyway.
This is what matters the most.
Have you struggled with handling the pandemic differently than others around you, too? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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