The other day John, my husband, had to listen to one of my little pity parties that I hosted for myself…be glad you were not invited. My party’s theme was “I am Second” and jealousy and envy were the hosts. Now, I’m not referring to the big powerful “I am Second” movement of motivational people and inspirational stories. My theme was way more self-centered, negative and ridiculous; definitely not what the true “I am Second” is all about. My “I am Second” pity party was about my jealousy and envy towards my husband. Because, see, in my head, he is always first and I am always second and it has bothered me for years. It was finally time I gave my feelings a voice and allowed them to be heard.
Every good party has to start some way so I thought I would surprise John as he was rinsing out his water bottle in the kitchen sink the other morning. I walked into the kitchen and abruptly tried to convince him that everything he touches turns to gold. That’s when John turned off the water, rolled his eyes and asked, “By gold do you mean multiple rounds of inpatient treatment, AA meetings, never-ending prosthetic and counseling appointments?” I replied, “None of those! What I mean is that everyone wants to hear YOUR story, your trials, your triumphs. You can write a blog post and everyone wants to read what you have to say. I write a blog post and I feel invisible, like I am overshadowed by you and your testimony!” There, I said it!
This conversation paused and the room went silent as we stared at each other.
Since women are known to speak more words than men, I graciously opened the conversation back up by saying, “What I mean is that I wasn’t in a fatal car wreck. I didn’t lose my leg. I didn’t find my only sibling dead. I haven’t completed half marathons and triathlons on one leg. I don’t deal with chronic pain. I haven’t been on tv shows and movies. I also haven’t struggled with multiple addictions. People always want to hear about you, your struggles and your accomplishments. They want to know how YOU are handling everything, how YOU are doing. What people don’t understand is that I have stood right by your side deep in the trenches and have gone through hell alongside you. Everything you have been through, I have been through, too! My struggles and my pain through everything is simply overlooked. That’s what I’m talking about.”
Again, awkward silence swarmed the air.
John, being quick to listen and slow to speak, cautiously asked, “Are you wishing you could switch roles with me?”
Why would he think such a crazy thought?!? Of course I wouldn’t want to go through all the terrible things he has had to face. It’s so sick and twisted to think that part of me is jealous of my husband’s testimony. Please understand, I am so incredibly proud of my husband and I love that he is an inspiration to others. He is a wonderful person who has been handed unimaginable circumstances. He has never given up, keeps fighting the fight, and continues pushing through all the obstacles in his path. But at the same time, I have also been through hell and back and I don’t have People Magazine or Access Hollywood knocking on my door asking to interview me. Nobody has given me special treatment for having two legs or told me I was an inspiration when I work out. I am a wife of an addict and a mother of three kids who has worked my hiney off to hold this family together by the grace of God and I think finding time, and motivation, to workout is a big deal in my world.
(John used to go by his middle name Clint…hence the picture above.)
Jealousy and envy are powerful forces. They can surely blur one’s clear, healthy outlook on life. Why am I jealous about things that I don’t even seek in life? If you know me, you know I have never wanted to be in the spotlight. I like to read People Magazine and watch Access Hollywood. I appreciate physical fitness and working out, but I have never had the desire to be steal the spotlight or do an Ironman triathlon…or a 10k run for that matter.
So why was it bothering me so much that John was getting all the attention and I was not? Simple, I felt overshadowed. I felt invisible. I felt unheard. I felt like my purpose in life was to hide behind my husband as I sat on the sidelines watching him be glorified. This idea did not sit well with me and I was not willing to accept that as my only role. Maybe I didn’t experience the first-hand traumas that my husband had, but I experienced my own form of secondary trauma. I, too, have a powerful testimony to share about hope, trust, unconditional love and obedience. My soul has its own light that needs to shine in order to glorify God, not my husband or anyone else. Like Matthew 5:16 says, “ In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
I seriously debated whether or not to share this piece of myself publicly in fear that people might think I’m cold-hearted toward John’s situation or that I don’t love him. What my pity party allowed me to realize is that I actually do want to be second. But I want to be second to God, not someone or something else. My struggles of jealousy and envy towards John have been obstructing my soul’s inner light to shine more brightly. I mean, how can I glorify my Father in Heaven with my good deeds when I secretly felt a sense of competition and internal battle with my husband in the game of life? I couldn’t. Basically, what has changed is my perspective. I am still second. But, instead of feeling unheard or invisible to others in the shadows of John’s struggles and accomplishments, I can stand more firm in myself knowing God hears and sees my desire to be closer to Him through these experiences. And for that, I am glad to be second.
Just so I am clear, I want to make sure you understand that I love and support my husband. I honestly want him to achieve far greater successes than he already has in his life. He has a uniqueness about him and he needs to continue to move God’s kingdom further. I know that as long as we are on the same page, unobstructed by the views and opinions of the world, that our lights will shine brighter than we could ever imagine.