Echos of the Heart
Creative Meditations for the Developing Soul
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the most important city in the Jewish world, he arrived riding on the most humble animal, a donkey. Crowds formed around him as he rode, and since they were in Jesus’s presence, the people began shouting in exuberance & delight. The people picked up large palm branches and began waving them in the air in celebration, shouting, “Highest blessings to the one who comes in the name of the Lord!“
Yet, right before the crowd had formed, Jesus wept for the city. In the midst of this celebration, Jesus knew that in a matter of days, this city would become the burial ground for his death. Less than a week after he entered the city with a triumphant celebration, Jesus would walk out of the city surrounded by these crowds, stained in his own blood from governmental abuse. He would stumble, carrying the cross he would die upon.
Even though Jesus knew this would happen, I believe in a Jesus who, as he entered the city surrounded by a celebrating crowd, he smiled at them. I believe in a Jesus who, on his donkey, would reach out to touch and greet the widows, the crippled, the poor. I believe that as the children danced in joy around him, Jesus laughed. I believe that as the people threw their garments on the ground to carpet where his donkey walked, Jesus told them “thank you.” I believe in a Jesus who, even in the midst of the commotion, peacefully locked eyes with men, women & children, and gazed into their faces with love. I believe that as the people celebrated, Jesus was engaged with them, full of gratitude for their expression of love towards him.
I would like to believe that Jesus soaked in this moment, despite the impending evil that would happen to him, because the reason that Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem at all, the reason he entered a city that would cause his death, was for the sake of giving himself in love to all of the people.
Have you ever heard a fellow believer say, “If only Adam & Eve would not have eaten the forbidden fruit.” This statement is often accompanied with sighs of remorse and wishing for a reality where we had never been separated from God due to sins and evil. It is easy to say to oneself, “Life would have been better if we stayed in the Garden of Eden.”
But, if Adam & Eve had not eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, who’s to say Cain or Abel wouldn’t have eaten it themselves? God, in His omnipotent kindness and love, gave us the ability to make choices. Our choices are based in our desires. With how quickly Adam & Eve seemed to disobey God, I wonder if they had mature love for God?
When I consider the garden of Eden, God had ordained one wedding, between Adam & Eve. There was never a marital union between Jesus and man. Did the Father know that humanity not ready to be betrothed to His most precious Son, Jesus? When I consider Adam & Eve, they were like spiritual newborns, birthed in perfection, prone to curiosity and naïve, unaware of the pains of separation from God. In Adam & Eves immaturity, we faced the consequences of being an immature bride & lover of God. Humanity needed to be prepared for their wedding day.
In the Old Testament, the book of Isaiah, Jesus was prophesied as the Bridegroom for Gods covenant people. Isaiah says, “For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”
But, what if Jesus also needed to be prepared as a Bridegroom for His chosen people? By Jesus becoming the slain lamb for humanity, he was preparing us and himself for our wedding day.
In Revelation 19:7-9, it states: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then the angel said to me, Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
The marriage between humanity and Christ is specifically called “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” When Christ was obedient to die for humanity as the perfect slain lamb, in God’s sight, He became worthy for the highest glory in all of heaven and earth. The Father seated Jesus at the right hand of Himself and gave Jesus the name above all names. Jesus was granted greater authority from the Father after He victoriously lived on earth as a man.
In Philippians 2:8-11, it states about Jesus, “And being found in the appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus had to go through a process of humility: he lived on earth, endured suffering due to sin, and choose to follow the Father in love, before rising into greater glory. What if God is doing the same process for us? Just as Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice raised him to greater glory, God will use our suffering and sacrifice, to raise us into a higher position than what we had in the Garden of Eden. God’s plan is to use our difficult circumstances to make us a prepared and sanctified Bride: a humanity that is suitable for union with its eternal creator. What if God knew that humanity had a greater potential to mature and marry Christ, than if we had stayed safe in the Garden of Eden?
The Church is a lover of God who knows the pain of separation from Him, and yet we chose Jesus over and over again. We are being matured in our love. We are choosing to sacrifice ourselves for Christ, who sacrifices himself in return. Mature love is a personal choice to love despite difficulties. Mature love is reciprocal despite obstacles.
Do we remember stories of Adam & Eve sacrificing themselves for God? No. But the most compelling displays of love come with sacrifice. When Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross, he stated the words, “It is finished.” In Aramaic, those are two words that when spoken together, sound like the word “Bride.”
Christian believers today have something that far surpasses what Adam & Eve had in the garden: we have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us as a mark of covenant, a marriage promise, with God. Adam & Eve were surrounded by the presence of God in Eden, but we have the presence of God within us. Even though today we live in a fallen world around us, we have a greater love-covenant inside of us.
In the end times, we are not “returning to the Garden,” as we know it. We are receiving a new paradise, where our souls are divinely tethered to God in love. All of the people who are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb will be people who chose and love Jesus. Every person will be in agreement that Christ is the most beautiful lover.
Imagine our future renewed heaven and earth: there will be no wayward hearts, no apathetic followers, no naivety to the destructions of sin and evil. We will all truly believe, from the depth of our spirit, that God is the greatest goodness we have ever known. At the end of time, every soul that will stand before the throne of God will worship and adore Him.
Can you believe that through all of our suffering and heartache on this earth, God is welcoming us into something much greater than the original garden of Eden could have given us? Our God is not merely a God of restoration, He is a God that creates greater beauty than our former beauty.
If we, the church, persists to our end, we will be raised up to a position of honor that is greater: we will be the mature Bride of Christ Jesus. We will have eternal oneness, in spirit, truth and peace, with our God.
Watch the Presentation of this Artwork & Writing:
As the season of Advent begins, we reflect on the first coming of Christ Jesus to earth, and how His life changed history for humanity. As a Christ-follower, it is imperative for us to continually meditate on the person of Jesus. He is the mirror-image of the Father, and we are invited, through the Holy Spirit, to become reflections of Jesus and the Father as well.
In December 2020, His Church Anglican (Livonia, MI), commissioned me to create paintings that would be incorporated into their Lessons & Carols service on Dec 19 & 20, 2020. The paintings were inspired by seven symbols of Jesus Christ that are described and prophesied in the book of Isaiah. The seven symbols of Jesus are the following: Emmanuel (God with us or God became man), Cornerstone of the Temple, Light & Word, Shepherd, Branch of Jesse, Herald of Good News & Bridegroom.
Symbols in the Paintings:
Jesus Golden Face:
I decided to gold leaf Jesus’ face, to represent the dichotomies within His incarnation. Jesus was 100% man, which was represented in my paintings by the remainder of His body being human flesh & skin, but he was also 100% divine. I wanted to visually represent His divinity and holiness within his human form.
As an artist, I did not want to create a pictorial representation of His face, for a few reasons: All of us have different ideas of how Christ may have looked, and many of us gather our understanding through artwork we have already witnessed that has attempted to pictorially represent him. There is artwork that depicts how we may subjectively perceive Christ to look, and that artwork causes us to be in awe and glorify Him. But there is other artwork that does not depict how we may subjectively perceive Christ to look, so it can create a barrier between us valuing the essence of what the artwork is trying to teach us about Christ. I wanted the viewer to be able to use their own imagination to think of how Christ may appear to them, in order to represent that even though Jesus came to earth as a Jewish man, He, in His divinity, represents all men as the new Adam for mankind.
Jesus is Emmanuel, the Cornerstone for the Temple, the Light & Word:
In the first set of three images, Mary is the main person of focus. We can see Jesus in her womb, and He is close to being born. Mary is gazing into the eyes of the viewer, who is also aware of the coming birth of someone extraordinary, in the womb of a seemingly ordinary girl, in the midst of humble circumstances.
The dove represents two moments where Mary encountered the presence of the spirit of God in the midst of her pregnancy journey. The first was the annunciation, where an angel visited her to announce that she will give birth to “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1: 26 – 38). As stated in Luke 1:35, “The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” The Holy Spirit was the one who began the holy process of incarnation. Right after this moment, Mary travelled to visit her relative Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. Luke 1:41-45 states, “41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby [John the Baptist] leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” After Elizabeth celebrated in the joy of the Holy Spirit, Mary also responded in song, inspired by the Spirit of God. Even when Christ was in the womb, they were experiencing the presence of God.
I painted the background as a dark, starry night, to represent how the people of Israel were living in a hopeless era, where they had no land to call their own, no prophets and God had felt distant and silent for 400 years. The Israelite people were surrounded with the darkness of oppression from the rulers and authorities of the Roman Empire, as well as the Jewish religious leaders, who would conspire with the leaders of Rome, to gain financial, social and political power. When Israel fell to Roman rule, the Romans would specifically tax the Jews to invest that money into a temple for their Roman god, Jupiter, as a way of saying “Jupiter reigns above the God of Israel.” The Temple in my artwork is multifaceted: it represents the active and corrupt presence of the pagan temples where the Romans worshipped many gods, as well as the Jewish religious system that did not have a full ransom sacrifice to set people free from bondage.
In redemptive symbolism, the temple also represents the person of Jesus, who comes to rebuild the temple with Himself as the cornerstone, the foundation of all holy and true spiritual practice. Once, when Jesus visited the temple in Jerusalem, he referred to His own body as a temple by saying in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” He was referencing His own death, that would lead to His resurrection, and subsequently building His followers as new “temples” for the Holy Spirit.
Christ was coming to be the light, the daybreak in this dark time. Christ was a living manifestation of the Scripture scrolls that were inside the Jewish temple. He brought illuminating revelation to the holy Scriptures by explaining the words, and demonstrating how to live the words properly.
Jesus is the Shepherd, the Branch of Jesse, and the Herald of Good News:
I picture these next three images to be representative of when Christ dwelt on earth & the long-lasting effects of Christ’s spirit in humanity. The sunset colors represent the spiritual changes that happened as Jesus entered the world, and light began to radiate over humanity. For the “Good Shepherd” image, I painted Jesus tenderly holding a sheep in His arms. I was inspired by Isaiah 40:11, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Christ carries all of humanities sins to the cross and became our self-sacrificial lamb. We were not spotless sheep, and yet in Him, we are renewed to life. He was the spotless lamb, and subjected himself to blood-stain and death to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
For the Branch of Jesse image, I painted intricate roots of the tree going down into the soil, to represent the long lineage of Jesus’ ancestry. The “shoot” I painted is a grown tree, bearing fruit and restoring what was lost. Jesus represents our new tree of life. The fruit I painted on the tree are pomegranates, which are a symbol of righteousness. Pomegranates are a common fruit in the Holy Land, and certainly a fruit Jesus would of eaten, similar to how an apple is a common fruit in the United States.
The last image on this tryptic is “Herald of Good News.” This image represents those that Jesus set free in his lifetime and the people that He continues to set free today. Jesus came to multiply freedom to all of the peoples of the earth. We, Christ’s followers, become conduits of distributing that freedom to others. The mountains that the women is facing are reminiscent of Jesus famous words to His followers from Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” The Good News empowers us to do the impossible that is stated in Isaiah 61:1-4, to bind up the brokenhearted, give liberty to those in bondage, bring comfort, joy and praise to all who mourn, and rebuild the devastations of many generations.
Jesus, the Bridegroom of His Bride, the Church:
This final image ties together the visual elements of all of the previous pictures, to create an image of Jesus at the end of time, meeting His Bride, the Church. The dark sky is being pushed back by the radiant sun rising from behind the mountains. The sun represents the presence of Father God in the picture. Twice in Revelation, it states that God will be the light for the new Earth. For example, Revelation 22:5 states, “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will be their light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
In this moment, Christ meets His beloved Bride, the church that His Father God faithfully matured to make her presentable for Him. Jesus’ hand is on his heart and his arm is outstretched, lovingly welcoming her into eternal union with Himself. The Father and Son can now live fully reconciled and united with the humanity that was restored through the Holy Spirit. The Father breathed His life into every person in humanity, and Christ gave His life for every person in humanity. The Son and Father rejoice in receiving their desired reward--the souls of the people who love them in return.
The Brides face is also gold-leafed, to represent her likeness to Christ and the Father. Her face is glowing in radiance, a church that went through the refining fire of suffering and had emerged as purified gold. The Bride is holy, matching the trinity that she loves.
The mountains in the background represent the mountain-moving faith of the church, the believers, in this moment of union. Ephesians 2:8-9 states, "8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast." We have received the gift of God's grace and we respond to God in faith. The lily flowers represent purity, fresh life & rebirth. At the end of time, everything will be reborn into new life and what will remain is everything pure and lovely. The Bride will present herself to Christ in purity and she will be received by Him in eternal love, communion and fellowship.
Symbolic Connections between Image 1 & Image 2:
Since I was a child, I have been keenly aware of my emotions and understanding others emotional experiences. I had an intuitive sense of others feelings, gauging how it affected the way that they related to me, others, and how they behave. As I have matured, I have found an interest expanding my ability to describe and visually depict emotions.
I believe that being able to recognize and define our emotional state, can assist with developing three of the five forms of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy. “Seth J. Gillihan, a clinical assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, states, ‘When we label an emotion, it might make it more manageable. It might not change the emotion, but it does allow us the possibility of choosing our response.’” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201601/odd-emotions)
Accepting the current reality of our emotional state is the first step in being able to know how to regulate our emotions. As I became interested in using words, colors and shapes to describe emotional experiences, I became fascinated in the symbolic language that we use communicate our feelings. Humans use symbolic language to describe our emotions, such as our “hearts dropping” or “jumping” and “stomachs twisting,” even though that is not what is physically happening. These symbolic phrases are commonly used in art forms, like songs and poetry, as well as our everyday conversations.
In most cases, our internal organs are not physically moving within us, but our bodies experience emotional stimulation, caused by chemical and electrical interactions within and between our cells. Within my art pieces, I have represented 5 Primary emotions, and how our organs may “feel” like they are moving, shifting, shrinking, expanding, (etc.) while we are experiencing emotional stimulation. I believe that becoming more aware of how our organs and body feel when we experience different emotions can be cues to help ourselves regulate and respond to our emotions in a healthy way.
I wanted to connect to others in my creative art process, so that I could understand how others may experience or relate to these same emotions. I interviewed over 20 people about how their bodies and organs feel when they experience these emotions. I asked them to associate colors, sensations and symbolic images to these feelings. These conversations served to be catalytic and enlightening for me to comprehend others emotional experiences, and the conversations were soothing for my interviewees, since we spent time identifying and accepting their emotional states. As an artist, my goals are to display what it means to be human, to cultivate self-awareness in those who experience my work, and ultimately provide cathartic healing or clarity.
Emotions are incredible cues that our body does use to communicate to us our cognitive, physical, spiritual and psychological reactions to sensory information. Acknowledging and accepting your emotions is a form of self-care. Personal emotional regulation can have a positive affect on other people, as you process what you are feeling and respond in a way that is appropriate in your relationships with others, and constructive for your personal development.
Hello Curious Creatives! My name is Natalie K. Ziemba! I welcome you on a healing & creative journey. For years, I have taught others simple art activities that help them connect to their inner voice & access emotional healing & wholeness. Now, I want to make these art activities available to you! I will teach you simple art activities that will equip you to take a personal journey of self-discovery & growth!
Every month on Patreon, I will release a “Visual Art For Healing” activity in the form of a written prompt, that leads you through a creative art-making activity. Many of these visual art prompts will encourage you to think about your life, relationships & belief system, in order to cultivate a stronger sense of self. There are not many requirements for your journey. All you need is some scrap pieces of paper, simple art supplies, and most importantly, your curious mind & open heart.
When you sign up to receive these art activity prompts, you are stepping into a community. I will invite you to be a member of our secret "Visual Art For Healing" Facebook group. On this page you will meet like-minded people who are on a growth journey, who spend time creating the same art activities as you! You will be able to share photos & personal reflections of the Visual Art Prompts you have completed.
Along with the Visual Art Prompt, I will post a list of 5 simple "Art For Healing Questions." These questions will help you express, in words, your experience while creating the artwork. Over time, it will serve as an easy method to record your art-making thoughts, feelings & epiphanies!
As an artist, I create artwork with themes & concepts that are meant to give others perspective, self-realizations & ultimately heal their soul. Your contribution to my Patreon allows the financial investment for me to continue to create more soul-inspiring work (in & out of my studio) & facilitate Art For Healing / Spiritual Art gatherings in my community.
I am here to help you awaken to the sound of your inner voice & create artwork that heals your soul. In the midst of your journey, I will be present with you to encourage, guide & inspire you as you are growing! Let's experience this creative journey together!
- Natalie K. Z.
As I reflected on the imagery that I wanted to paint for the Detroit based organization "Six Feet Over," I was reminded of how when I was 16 years old a friend of mine had committed suicide. I was devastated, but it elicited a response within my soul that was unprecedented. That feeling was a deep desire to love others. When I lost my friend, I had a realization that I may not be aware of the quiet pain that a person is going through. If there was the possibility that my smile, hug or kind word could give hope to someone in the midst of their pain, then I did not want to miss an opportunity to share that type of love. In the midst of my hurt, I allowed myself to grow, because I knew that people in this world needed intentional love.
The thoughts that transformed me the most in that time was the fact that I maintained a growth mindset or an abundance mindset, instead of a fixed mindset. A fixed or limited mindset has the tendency to believe that "the current negative circumstances that I am living within is all that is possible for my life & there is no possibility for change." A growth mindset carries the perspective that anything worth pursuing in our lives can be cultivated and developed. This mindset believes that I am empowered to change in the ways that I need to, in order to be a better person for myself & for the people around me.
As I went throughout life, I realized that the way to maintain long-term change is to make sure that I am firmly rooted, with a solid foundation underneath me. The roots that we grow beneath us, in the soil, would represent our habits, our character, integrity, our self love, a strong sense of our identity and our life purpose. Allowing these traits to grow deep in every area of your life can help make you a grounded person. The more love, trust & self respect we have for ourselves, the more grounded we become, because we are not easily shaken. We must first give ourselves the honor, love & respect that we need, in order to authentically share that type of love with a hurting person. In real life, when you look at a tree, you can tell how deep the roots are because they are the same depth or deeper than the height of the tree. A tree is only as tall as its roots are deep. "The deeper the root, the wider the shoot." When we experience "winter seasons" in our life that feel cold & dark, we are like a tree. In the wintertime, trees focus all of their energy on growing deeper roots into the soil below them, so that when spring-time comes again, they can focus their energy on growing upwards once more.
Once we are rooted, we can start growing upwards, outwards & flourishing. We can display all of the health that we have cultivated in our personal lives to the world around us. With our deep roots, our tree is able to confidently take up more space and cultivate more fruit. In my painting, the tree on her head does look heavy, but because she is firmly rooted, she has the strength to carry the weight, grow & flourish with abundance. Then, with the fruits she grows, she can share the food of wisdom and lessons of her life with other people.
Like the seedling of a tree, you can always have a new beginning. Where can you start again?
One night I had a dream that I had a wound at the base of my spine. So, I went to the doctor. After he had cleaned up the wound, he suggested that I got a tattoo placed over it (similar to the black patterned tattoo on the girl in this drawing). He told me that I would be "making the scar beautiful.” When I awoke from the dream, I prayed to God about the meaning. He told me that He was the doctor cleaning out my wounds & then He would transform my scars into something magnificently beautiful. In that moment, God granted me permission to not have shame for the wounds that I have experienced.
In the midst of our sufferings, oftentimes we ask ourselves questions like, “What was the purpose of that? Why did I allow myself to go through that? I thought I ‘knew better?’” But, these thoughts deny us permission to claim our story (the good & the bad) as a part of our own story of transformation.
There is a beauty in taking ownership of where we have been, in order to allow ourselves to decide, from here on out, where we want to fly. Sometimes, out of shame, we want to abandon or ignore aspects of our story, because they hurt. But in reality, it was those hurts that created new understanding & wisdom to make your wings stronger to fly high—high above any of those conditions you’ve been in before.
Suffering brings about self transformation. As we age, we become more filled with knowledge of the world, but never less worthy of what the world has to offer us. With the help of a loving God, we have the ability to choose a life of healing, beauty & reaching the high heights of heavenly abundance. God can show us the way.
Claim who you HAVE been & create a vision for where you want to go. I hope & pray that where you are flying will ALWAYS be greater heights, greater legacy, an “up & up.” From transformation to transformation. Any new sufferings will not end us. We will be like an animal that sheds it’s old skin, in order to make room for a new, beautiful layer. The world needs your story of transformation. You are becoming stronger to fly!
I find that the people we are most jealous and judgmental towards are the same people that we don’t know how they would describe their life story. They are the people that we have not stopped to ask about their deep insecurities, struggles, or the trauma that they have endured. What we witness instead are the highlights of their life. Maybe we notice how they look, dress, or how they hold themselves. Maybe we pay attention to the way that other people like them, even assuming that others admire them more than us. Maybe we notice that they have a significant other or seemingly secure family relationships. Or, we like the job, house, & vacations they experience. But friends, this is all surface level information, because it says nothing about their soul. Who we have been & who we are becoming is found in the narrative of sufferings: the stories of our lives.
This summer I lived with 19 women in a Victorian mansion. Most of the time when I tell people that, they are shocked, & assume that drama was eminent. But honestly, it was one of the most vivacious, loving & healing community friendship experiences I've had the pleasure to live. How could that be the case? Well, within our first week of living there, we shared our life stories, and that vulnerability was maintained throughout the whole summer.
Now, I had some radiant women living in my house—stunning inside & out. By mere glance in a social setting, or more accurately on social media, I’m sure one could find reasons to covet their lives or be intimidated by them. But, since we had been vulnerable with each other about our life struggles & our big moments of overcoming battles with God, instead of comparing ourselves to one another, we had empathy. Instead of being jealous of one another, we were in awe over the miracle of each other’s lives. Since we were familiar with each others fears & weaknesses, we celebrated when we witnessed each other’s new victories. I had the opportunity to live in a house with 19 other women who had experienced great pain in life, and yet they were radiant! They were moving towards wholeness. They were gathering wisdom. I witnessed the women in my house using the strength that they had gained in their struggles to help uplift someone else in the midst of their suffering. Whenever I saw the women in my house shining, I was in awe of them and Gods ability to help them rise up again, to believe again, to love again.
This year I’ve had the great pleasure to hear the life stories of many other friends and share mine with them. Every time, I see an increase in the love that we have for each other. Our hearts say, “Wow, you made it through that time of suffering, and you're continuing to learn from it... you’re SO AMAZING! I’m so grateful that you have transformed the ways you’ve been hurt, into how you intentionally choose to love others.”
But, in my friendships where we share our life stories in a far too overdue moment, like when crisis strikes, my heart says, “Wow, I wish I knew that sooner. I wish I knew those triggers, those weak spots, that anxiety. Because now I can understand who you are deeper. Now I have a better idea of how to love you, & to assume where the boundaries lay, before I cross them. I can familiarize myself with your weaknesses. I can have grace & mercy for your moments of fear & insecurity.” The stories that we tell can help cultivate a mutual, thoughtful love for one another. If you are building a friendship with someone you are beginning to trust, don't hide your story.
So, next time you find yourself coveting someone’s 9am - 5pm job, or group of friends, or weekend activities, or talented skill, or personality trait, or physical health, just remember, you have no idea what their story was of how they became who they are. They had huge road blocks, disappointments & insecurities along the way. They need daily strength to sustain everything that they have in their life. There is no reward that manifested in their life that came without their personal investment. I’m sure you know what that struggle is like in your own story. Why not believe that the people you compare yourself to have intense insecurities and difficulties in life, even regarding the part of their life that you have jealousy toward?
Within the nature of who you are & the life that you are living, there is something that you have that is extraordinarily valuable to someone else. These miracles in our lives happen frequently to each of us. The story of how those miracles unfold in a lifetime is completely unique. Even when different people have a blessing that could be categorized similarly (like fame or family), no two blessings are the same. From person to person, blessings arrive & are sustained within our completely unique narrative. God made you because He takes delight in the storyline He is writing with YOU. God anticipates the miracles He plans to unfold within YOUR story. Believe in the fact that God is infinite and He carries all of the abundant resources in the universe. There are more than enough miracles from heaven and on earth for all of us.
So, maybe the next time you find yourself in a never-ending cycle of being jealous of someone else or their blessing, spend time thinking deeply about who they are and what expectations life may demand of them. Or even better, ask them a fearless question, and inquire about how they arrived in the place they are today. What internal or external battles did they have to overcome? What gives them the inspiration & perseverance to continue on their path? What are the struggles that they have to keep facing? I’m sure that you will be humbled & amazed by their story.